Education Beat Podcast — Teens fight for the right to vote for school board — Listen Now!

News Update

Governor announces progress in closing digital divide for K-12 students

With the help of California-based tech giant Google, the state next month will go a long way toward closing the digital divide, Gov. Newsom announced Monday.

Ever since schools throughout the state closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Newsom, first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Google and others have been working collaboratively to raise funding and technology to provide devices and internet access to students for distance learning.

Newsom, with his wife nearby and Thurmond joining by telephone, said 100,000 free wifi hotspots donated by Google would be rolled out during the first week in May. In addition, more than 70,000 laptops, Chromebooks and Ipads have been donated, and the CPUC is making $25 million available to help provide wifi hotspots, plus another $5 million to pay for devices.

Also, Sacramento City Unified is converting seven school buses into mobile wifi hotspots as a pilot project, Newsom said. If that is successful, more school bus hotspots may be created in other districts throughout the state.

Thurmond, who is co-chairing a recently formed Closing the Digital Divide Task Force that will meet at 4 p.m. on Facebook Live to discuss internet access, said the group plans to create a blueprint to end the inequitable access to technology for students that has existed in California for decades. Newsom agreed that it is important to address the digital divide both short-term and long-term. “Even though schools are closed,” he said, “distance learning must continue.”