Establishes “Community Broadband Study Commission”
A 850 (Chiaravalloti, Karabinchak, Reynolds-Jackson) NJEA believes all students must have equitable access to technology. While we have always known there is a digital divide in New Jersey, the quick transition to remote learning brought the issue to the forefront of our conversation around learning. As school buildings across the state shut their doors last spring, thousands of students lacked devices and broadband access. Especially at our community colleges, some students had nowhere to complete their work without access to the Internet at their campuses and Starbucks. Educators found themselves in the same place. New Jersey residents who relied on libraries and other sources of free WiFi found themselves unable to easily access their bank accounts and bills.
For education, whether K-12 or beyond, access to the Internet is more important than access to a copper-wire phone line, but our statutory and regulatory framework does not treat it as such. We need to ensure that all students and educators have that access. Community broadband would help ease the digital divide; establishing a commission to study the feasibility of community broadband networks is a first step to addressing the problem in a long-term sustainable way.
NJEA supports A850 and asks that you do the same.