Another school year is drawing to a close, and preparations are under way for 2001-2002. The school year just ending has seen substantial progress on several fronts, but painfully slow advances in other areas.

The same mixed reviews apply to the new administration in Washington. President Bush marked his first 100 days in office, but opinion is divided on whether the new chief and his team will be good for education in general and for education technology specifically. Several of the nation’s keenest observers weigh in with their “Viewpoints” on the administration’s impact on education so far.

The Bush Administration’s new honcho at the Federal Communications Commission is proposing a shift in how the eRate is administered, and you can read all about it starting on the Front Page of this issue. That’s also where you can learn why many of the authors of a report from the bi-partisan Web-based Education Commission are worried that foot-dragging by the Bush Administration is undermining the impact of their findings.

Less ambiguous progress was made this year on some fronts. After years of lip service and little else, the school year just ending saw some genuine progress toward improved professional development. Both within education and society at large, eLearning now is heralded as the biggest thing since email.

Training software now is so abundant, in fact, that the choices can be a little bewildering. Not to worry, though, your peers and colleagues ride to the rescue with the second installment in our series of “Readers’ Choice Awards.” Our readers rate the software available for training in nine categories, and you can compare your assessments with theirs.

The year just ending was tough on technology companies, especially upstarts and enterprises seeking to plow new ground in education. See Associate Editor Elizabeth Guerard’s no-holds-barred report on the condition of eProcurement.

Several fledgling school tech companies that started the school year with such bright promise winked out altogether in the year just ending. Assistant Editor Cara Branigan tells the unsettling story of one such company–Dotsafe–and what its demise means to many school technology programs.

Other corporate tales are more uplifting. As we report on the Front Page, the Detroit schools are investing $6.3 million with 4GL School Solutions company in hopes of saving between $36 million and $45 million by streamlining special education paperwork.

In spite of roller-coaster stock prices and widespread layoffs for even the most established technology companies, education continues to be a bright spot on an otherwise darkling plain. Compaq, for instance, inked a mega-deal to lease laptops to a forward-thinking Florida school district. And Apple, as we recount, signals a none-too-soon renewal of its commitment to education with the sale of 23,000 laptops to a single school division in Virginia.

Signs of new attention being paid to education technology were by no means restricted to the private sector, however. As Managing Editor Dennis Pierce reports, bright-minded superintendents and other senior executive educators are taking a more direct hand in shaping the nation’s school technology agenda.

At eSchool News’ “Superintendents’ Technology Summit” in Fort Lauderdale last month, top school leaders weighed in on the viability of application service providers (ASPs), the future of virtual schooling, and the delicate balance of security vs. privacy in education.

Virtual schooling comes in for still more in-depth analysis this month in an “eSN Special Report”. This end-of-the-school-year issue also takes a hard look at another timely topic. In the “eSN Special Report”, we provide a closer look at the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the leading internet-content filters available to schools. CIPA, you’ll recall, requires schools to have filtering solutions in place by October if they want to qualify for eRate funding.

In the school year just ending, technology, by and large, has meant progress. The gee-whiz era is fading fast in most school systems, and it is all but a memory in the rest.

Now, the important part awaits. The new school year demands real progress on integrating technology into the curriculum, streamlining administrative systems, and using technology to extend instructional resources, among many other priorities. The new school year will be just the time to put technology’s vast promise into practice.