As part of his 2021 State of the State Address on Jan. 12, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy talked at length about “upholding New Jersey’s reputation for having the best public schools in America,” pointing out recent achievements and key efforts moving forward.

“We know we have room to do better and to bring more schools, more students and more communities under that banner,” Murphy said.

He admitted that “the digital divide was real long before [COVID-19] hit our state, but it became even clearer as the pandemic took hold.”

“In 2021, no child should be denied access to all the exceptional educational opportunities of the online word,” said Murphy, adding that 95 percent of the roughly 230,000 students who were lacking equipment and/or connectivity now have the tools they need.

“We’ve kept a close eye on the dwindling digital divide, and each positive report has provided relief, hope and opportunity for our educators and their students,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera in a statement. “I look forward to the day when Gov. Murphy can cross the words ‘digital divide’ off his list of topics to address in his regular coronavirus briefings.”

In his 2021 State of the State Address, Murphy also talked about ensuring students have the academic, social and emotional support they need “as they rebound from the stresses of the pandemic.”

“We’ve already begun to direct funding to school districts that need the most help in getting students back on track,” he said. “So please know this: We are the No. 1 state for public education precisely because of our strong support for attending to the education, social and emotional needs of our entire education community. We won’t let our students or our educators down now.”

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