eSchool News is five years old this month. So what?

Well, it’s the sort of milestone those involved in a venture like to take note of. In the publishing business about six in 10 new publications fail, mostly in their first year. Of course, publications can fail even after that. In recent months, we’ve seen two titles “suspend publication”—The Electronic School and Converge.

Sad as those passages are, they make us all the more grateful for your good support. Believe me: We are fully aware that making it to five is no guarantee, but to be thriving at five does suggest that eSchool News serves a legitimate need and that, if we keep working as hard as we can, it might mean we’ll be around for the long haul.

Back in March 1998, at the launch of eSchool News, we were an upstart little print newspaper with just 20,000 circulation. Now, although we still want to feel like an upstart, our print edition is read by upwards of 180,000 educators. Our initial circulation was strictly K-12. Now, we have a substantial number (nearly 12,000) of technology leaders from junior and senior colleges who read us right along with the K-12 elite.

Today, along with the newspaper, we offer educators a national newsletter and a prize-winning collection of books, directories, and guides, all carefully written or selected to help you and your colleagues make the most of your technology investments.

We’ve spent thousands of hours building the field’s most robust ed-tech web site, and every month we now serve news and information to nearly 130,000 unique visitors at eSchool News Online, the electronic companion publication of this newspaper. As we note in the column to my left (your right), we also provide online content every school day directly to more than 750 school web sites (and that number grows every week)—all absolutely free of charge. And just last month, we launched an online store designed to serve the more in-depth information needs of technology’s vanguard.

All around us, the technology revolution continues apace. As Rebecca Flowers—one of our founding editors stopping back for an encore—explains in this month’s Special Report (see page 21), peer-to-peer computing is opening vast new opportunities for collaboration and innovation, even as it poses significant perils. And—as we chronicle in yet another Special Feature in this issue (see page 15)—assistive technology is helping to eliminate some of the heart ache and hardship for our most challenged community of learners.

But as fast as some things change, others seem largely impervious to progress. Thus, the stories on Page One report how old foes of the eRate are large and in charge in Congress these days, and how the president’s calls for cuts in the 2004 ed-tech budget are stirring up controversy even before Congress has managed to report out the budget for 2003.

Our first five years have added up to a turbulent ride for eSchool News. We stepped in just as the tech bubble began to expand to gigantic proportions. Then we got splattered like everyone else when the tech bubble burst. And now, we’re settling in for tougher, but perhaps more productive times.

As thoughtful observers note elsewhere in this issue (see page 34, for example), the “Gee Whiz” era in education technology is largely behind us. Simulations and virtual reality certainly still promise a few marvels with the power to amaze. And, as we sadly report on Page One, space is still the final, perilous frontier and a place where genuine heroes and heroines are made.

But, by and large, we’re down to a quieter, more serious time in the history of education technology. Much of the infrastructure is now in place that will allow you to lift management and instruction up to a new level of magnitude. Educators today, in unprecedented numbers, have splendid new tools. Now, we need the commitment and patience to learn best how to use them.

The challenge of educating a new generation has never been greater. Along with all the traditional tribulations, you’re working in a world already transformed—and not entirely for the better. Worldwide communications and global trade not only make the world seem smaller, but they also make the world more complicated, interdependent, and far more precarious. All this serves to remind us yet once again that your work is more important than ever. The technology at your command is more powerful. But progress is once again seen to depend mostly on you. And that’s as it should be.

And that’s why we won’t be cracking open any champagne or slapping hands in the air. We’ve got too much work to do.

As we’ve done for five years now, we’ll continue to strive to bring you the technology news and information you need to succeed. The world, technology, and eSchool News are constantly changing, but as we said from the start, our objective is simple: We’re here to help ease your transition “from the old school to the eSchool.” Thanks for making it all possible.