eSchool News has been so busy on so many fronts these last few weeks, we’ve hardly had time to find out who won the presidential election. This was really starting to worry us, too—until we found out nobody else knew either. Whew.

We’ve been hard at work pulling together the year-end issue you now hold in your hands (or behold on your screen). It’s chock full of news and information about how education is effecting the transition from old school to eSchool and how enlightened companies are helping to make that transition faster and smoother.

The editors have been laboring mightily, of course. But our eSchool News Conference Division has outdone itself in recent weeks, making important get-togethers possible for key players in the K-12 field. A special roundup of what went on at our annual conference in Orlando, for instance, is bound into this issue, as a kind of holiday bonus for busy readers.

We also hosted our first-ever “Superintendents’ Technology Summit” in Palm Springs, Calif. (look for our in-depth report on that one next month), and we presented a “Business to Education Technology Summit” here in Washington, D.C. At the latter conference, some of our closest friends and partners on the corporate side came together to talk about how the nation’s leading technology companies can improve their service to education.

At eSchool News, we think technology companies, by and large, are part of the solution. So we’re offering up our traditional December-issue buyers’ guide. But this year, “The Buyers’ Guide 100” comes spruced up as a sneak preview of our 750-page School Technology One Book.

Our One Book—bursting with information on companies, organizations, agencies, and other resources germane to school technology—will come in handy as the ultimate desk reference all year long.

With so much positive happening between public education and the private sector, it’s sad to have to note the darker side. But as we say around the newsroom, every silver lining has a cloud. And one especially gloomy shadow has slipped across the once-bright promise of ZapMe!, the folks who brought you that incredible offer of free computer labs. Well, guess what.

Another development to watch is unfolding right now in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in Charlotte, N.C.

School board members there actually are mulling whether to sell “naming rights” on an entire school. For me, the idea is breathtaking. But then, I still cringe during holiday bowl games to hear the announcer refer to contests like the “Kleenex Potato Bowl.” (And as a Washingtonian, I’ll never grow easy about swapping “RFK stadium” for “FedEx Field.”)

Still, the allure of money is understandable. When you read this month’s Technology Champions you might be caught up, as were we, with the vision of taking the old “Net Day” concept one step further—linking students’ homes as well as their classrooms to the internet. Public funding just won’t get you there, so it begins to appear pretty sensible to look for the money where it lives.

But I sense a full-scale backlash coiling just around the bend. Year’s end is a good time for predictions, so here’s one: “Commercialization of Education” will emerge as a big-time issue in 2001.

When it does, here’s something to keep in mind: Our politicians appear to be in a perpetual muddle, so the prospects are bleak for public funding adequate to complete the full transition to the eSchool. On the one hand, no nation or corporation can long endure without skilled, well-educated citizens and workers. On the other hand, it’s harder every day for schools to impart learning sufficient to produce either effective citizens or efficient workers without some form of help from the private sector.

So there you are. Educators, politicians, captains of industry—we need each other.

And yet, as we contemplate the corporate clinch of education in the year ahead, we might wish to think—but not too long—about the prickly embrace of amorous porcupines.

Question: How do you hug a porcupine?

Answer: Very carefully.