Making good on his promise to boost STEM education in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that his administration was awarding $2 million in state grants to 29 high schools so they could offer more computer science classes.
Officials said it was the first time New Jersey specifically funded an expansion of computer science education.
Speaking at Belleville High School in Essex County, which received one of the grants, Murphy said the money would be used “to set up these new computer science classes, to create importantly a diverse crop of new computer science students, and to support faculty professional development.”
The computer science grants were part of a larger initiative to boost science, technology, engineering, and math education.
Education Commissioner Dr. Lamont Repollet said additional computer science classes would be critical for students to compete in the job market.
“When we talk about a shortage of qualified applicants for jobs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, we know that many of those vacancies are specifically in the computer science arena,” he said.
The grants fund more than 900 seats in computer science classes across New Jersey.
Democratic state Sen. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, said the addition of computer science classes would help female and minority students get a leg up.
“We’re opening doors for women and men who are underrepresented in the field,” Ruiz said. “We’re aligning curriculum with the available jobs. We’re aligning curriculum with a high-growth industry.”