Technology Needed for Remote Learning is with almost all classes online.
schools in NJ have started the school year, but the state is not yet precisely how many currently lack the necessary tools.
The school year has already begun in much of New Jersey. With a large majority of schools teaching at least part of the week remotely.
And concerns about the digital divide have not disappeared.
And the gap may even be more comprehensive than previously reported.
The state’s top education official answered questions Wednesday at the state Board of Education meeting about how much progress the government has made.
To close the massive gap in access to technology in the home.
The state released a new report indicating that, as of June, more than 350,000 students, or a quarter of all enrolled students, did not have the necessary technology at home.
The Murphy administration had previously said that the June survey found 230,000 students without the technology.
But from the report, it appears that they were only low-income students. Either way, the state has not provided an updated count.
But Acting Education Commissioner Kevin Dehmer said: Wednesday that the Murphy administration’s $ 54 million grant program to help districts purchase devices and other technology had been implementing this summer.
And “most, almost all” of the district applications had stood approved. The department also said that more than $ 300 million in federal funds from the CARES Act were also available to districts for the pandemic.
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Some Success Closing the Gap
The department only released some totals Wednesday.But not how much money stood awarded or how many districts received assistance.
Dehmer said only that his department had heard from the communities that the funds had helped meet their needs.
“Districts have been able to continue their planning and purchases of devices and connectivity,” Dehmer said.
Technology Needed for Remote Learning is “One essential thing is that when we launched this grant program, we didn’t just look at the devices, whether they were portable or something, but we also looked at connectivity.
If you have a laptop and you can’t connect to the Internet, you can’t go where you need to be. ”
The number of districts that rely on home technology is growing, either as part of a “hybrid” class model that includes face-to-face classes or just remote learning.
At last count, Dehmer said 388 districts were offering a hybrid class model so far, 238 completely remote, and only 69 communities or charter schools were offering only full-time face-to-face classes.
Defenders are Watching Closely
One of the organizations that have been closely monitoring the process has been the Education Law Center.
This organization has spearheaded the Abbott v. Burke in the state, and that last month, he warned Governor Murphy’s administration for failing to address technology needs fully.
Nearly all Abbott’s so-called districts, among the neediest in the state, have opted for totally remote models, at least at this beginning of the school year.
“There has been no action by the Murphy management to seriously address this issue.
Beginning with publishing accurate and up-to-date data on where the technology divide is most acute and the barriers that cause it,” said David Sciarra, CEO from ELC, in an email Wednesday.
Technology Needed for Remote Learning,”It also highlights the need for the Administration to take full responsibility for any student who does not have an Internet connection and a device.
which is now essential to a public education,” he continued.
At the state board meeting, Dehmer acknowledged that the needs persist.
“I would like to say that everything is perfect in this,” said Dehmer.
Adding that there have been difficulties in obtaining the necessary devices from foreign manufacturers.
The Acting Commissioner highlighted a link the state Department of Education released last week.
A “virtual learning toolkit” that provides information and resources for teachers, parents, and students.
“This is an area that we are going to build during the school year,” Dehmer said. “We will continue like this. We are not going to give up on this. ”
Board members asked the commissioner how the state will track the progress districts are making, mostly remote instruction.
Board member Mary Beth Berry, a public school teacher in Hunterdon County, said she was concerned about the digital divide and the students who had the devices and connectivity.
They Ask about the Lack of Technical Support
“Looking at these numbers, we see that a lot of young people are going to be on Zoom or any other platform,” he said. “Are you working with companies? What measures exist if the system fails?
“This is how we will provide instruction, and do we have an infrastructure to make sure everything works?”
Dehmer said the tech infrastructure in this pandemic had become a bigger problem not just for schools but said the toolkit should help provide some resources.
“That is why it was so important to put everything together,” he said. “If this doesn’t work (for families), who should they contact? And to help the districts design those resources as well”.
The report provided Wednesday night included a series of figures from the June survey of more than 600 districts.
In addition to students’ needs, he said that more than 40,000 staff members in more than 200 districts .
He also noted that more than 540 districts had provided devices. And other technology to at least some students as of June.
More than 570,000 students in total – nearly half of all students – had received some technology from their districts.
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