Luna's education plan: Read the highlights, hear the interview

Our editorial board spent 90 minutes this morning interviewing state schools superintendent Tom Luna about his sweeping school reform plan, Students Come First.

Here's a link to the Luna interview, in full.

A few higlights:

• Luna says this plan is essential now, after $200 million in budget cuts over the past two years, because it could take a decade for K-12 funding to rebound to its pre-recession level. "The new normal is what we're experiencing now."

• During the fall election, Luna said he might seek additional money from the state endowment reserves — or push for new money from repealing sales tax exemptions, taxing Internet sales or hiring new auditors. That seems a lower priority now, as Luna is touting a plan that would reform education without new taxes. "I think people made it very clear on Nov. 2 that they do not want their taxes raised."

• He acknowledged that the biggest question about his plan centers on increasing class sizes in the upper grades. "I think that's a fair debate." But the plan to increase class sizes also allows the state to eliminate some 770 teaching jobs over two years — which enables the state to invest in new technology that should help teachers accommodate larger classes.

Comparing Idaho's performance with neighboring states — some with smaller class sizes, and one, Utah, with larger class sizes — Luna says he sees no correlation between class size and student performance.

• Luna believes attrition should cover most of the teacher cuts. Generally, over the course of two years, about 3,200 teachers retire, move or leave the profession.

• His plan to provide students with laptops would cost roughly $7 million a year for computer purchases, and about $6 million for support and maintenance, which a private contractor would handle. Students would be responsible for the condition of the laptops while in school, but would be able to keep them upon graduation.

• Luna defended his plan to eliminate tenure for new teachers and make them work on two-year contracts similar to principals' contracts. He says it is important to reward good teachers and identify poor teachers, and the current system makes that difficult.

Existing tenure agreements would be grandfathered, and Luna said he rejected the notion of eliminating tenure entirely. "That wasn't the most productive path to take."

• Regarding the prospects for passing his sweeping reform, introduced Wednesday, "We're optimistic about the response we've gotten so far, but I'm not naïve." Luna believes the depths of the state's budget crisis, and a projected $340 million shortfall in 2011-12, may prompt lawmakers to try a dramatically different approach to education.

Coming Sunday: Our editorial board weighs in on Luna's proposal, and the president of the Idaho Education Association reacts to the plan.

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I don't know if anything Luna said would qualify as a highlight. Pretty grim outlook.

Hey Luna, how about pushing for a repeal of ag land

exemption? Naaaa, you'd be kicked out of the party over that one. Be a good lap dog now and sit up! Speak!
Good boy...

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

The Cliff Notes version of an Education by Luna

Could end up being a foretelling of Idaho's educational future...

"I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn't learn something from him." Galileo

Richert is doing it again.

My sister's children's future is at stake. Please stop that.


Happy Jesus Thing and a Chinese New Year

Class size is not the core issue

The real issue is Luna's statement that "me must have "customer focused education system" meaning student focused.

This explicitly says, without substantiation, that the current effort by educators, both staff and teachers, is not serving our students. The evidence is otherwise: Although underfunded and with large classe, Idaho education outcomes rank in the middle of the country. Why?

Because of the extraordinary and devoted efforts of our teachers and staff who put in hundreds of hours per year beyond what is "in the contract".

If Mr Luna had a background in teaching and had taught for a while, his vision might be drastically different. His statements like "there are no credible studies that show class size affect education" shows penchant for being a politician rather than an educator.

Why? WHY? Don't you know?

You're the poster trying to explain something and you didn't?

rectify that now

won't you


Happy Jesus Thing and a Chinese New Year


Luna got his "education" off line by sending in his 50 bucks and they sent him a degree.

End goal run all the teachers out of the state to Nevada and Wyoming ( they start at almost twice the pay a teacher in Idaho gets after 5 years. Then he can use the 9th grade and up laptops to fund the Virginia based online school that funded his campaign.

Tom's vandalism

When is Tom going to come clean on his vandalism issue months ago. Rumors in the Nampa School district have it that it was someone from his own church (non-teacher). Oh, also it will be handled internally. As I think about my 18 furlough days and my 18% pay cut, I can't help but think about all that money and man hours of investigating a "CRIME" that our State Superintendent is COVERING UP.

Tom: I don't trust you with my children's education and I don't trust you with my job. How much do those apples weigh? I understand you are really good at weights and measures.