Take it from an industry that has struggled to adjust and adapt: The world has changed, and those who resist that change risk becoming irrelevant.
The newspaper business has finally stopped fighting the dramatic shift in the way information is communicated; its very survival depends upon creating excellent products and delivering them in ways consumers not only desire, but now demand. Public education faces many of the same challenges - and the same opportunities.
Proposition 3 on Idaho ballots opens unlimited possibilities for public school students to learn with help from technology that they neither fear nor misunderstand, which cannot be said of some adults. Education reform adopted by the Idaho Legislature in 2011 includes a mandate for every high school to have wireless Internet access and every high school teacher and student a wireless computing device. Further, by 2016, high school students will be required to take two credits of blended or digital learning as part of their minimum of 46 credits required for graduation.
Some see this transition to greater technology use as a threat to teachers' jobs. We see it as a vital tool that, with extensive teacher training included in the mandate, will only improve the quality of Idaho students' education.
As much as many of us love the printed page and the spoken word, the ability to combine multi-dimensional experiences with virtually unlimited resources takes learning to a new level. In that aging text book or even yesterday's newspaper page, a tiny amount of dated information can be imparted. Instead of reading a chapter on presidential elections or a story on a presidential debate, technology allows students access to reams of history and rare resources almost instantly. And instead of telling students about a presidential debate, the kids can actually experience it - with analysis from multiple sources and perspectives.
Critics of Prop 3 are correct that all this technology isn't cheap, and that enormous pressure is put on legislators to ensure adequate funding is procured. But we believe the overall cost is minimal compared to what's being lost if we don't help our students better compete in the classroom and in the real world. A yes vote on Proposition 3 is your approval for ensuring all Idaho students are given the basic tools they need to succeed.
The Press urges your "yes" vote for all three propositions on the ballot. Put as simply and clearly as we can, all three advance Idaho public education; repealing this progress would return students to a system that underserved everyone except the handful of those who benefited from clinging to the status quo.
By every comparative study we have seen, public education in the U.S. has assumed almost a Third World position in international rankings. And Idaho is far behind many other states despite social, cultural and demographic attributes that should give us an advantage.
What we did before was overdue for change. We acknowledge that change is hard. But we hope you agree: These children are worth the effort and the investment. Their future depends upon it.