Contrary to repeated publication, Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's degree is not in measurement science. He has a bachelor of arts in liberal studies, says the spokesman for Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey.
I wrote last week about the Wikipedia dustup over Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's biography, noting that his spokeswoman's editing prompted more than 60 revisions in two weeks.
Revisions continue, with the latest coming today.
I'm hoping to help end the debate on at least one question: What does Luna's diploma say?
"His degree is a bachelor of arts in liberal studies," Joe Guzzardo, communications director at Thomas Edison, told me this morning. "Measurement science" is not a specialty earned by Luna, Guzzardo said.
That's contrary to the Wikipedia bio, which says Luna holds an "online bachelor's degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in measurement science."
The original Wikipedia bio on Luna was created in February 2007, a month after Luna took office. It introduced the error, saying, "Tom completed his college degree in 2002, obtaining a degree in Measurement Science from Thomas Edison State College."
That first entry had no source citation, but one was subsequently added, though, it too, is wrong. The current bio cites the
2006 Idaho Public TV "Idaho Debates" page, but the IPTV document only says that Luna has a bachelor of arts. IPTV makes no mention of measurement science.
Luna owns a weights and measures company, Scales Unlimited, which appears to be source of the mistake. Luna's degree was based, in part, on his business experience. He also attended Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) and Boise State.
Luna's spokeswoman, Melissa McGrath, has played a role in perpetuating the error. When she ignited the Wiki war Aug. 27, McGrath edited out two references regarding Luna's degree, first that it was obtained "online" and second that it was "in liberal arts."
Wrote McGrath: "He graduated from Thomas Edison State College in 2002 with a degree in measurement science." A Wikipedia editor restored the references to "online" and "liberal arts," as well as the incorrect "measurement science" specialty.
I followed up on this because I had two calls Friday questioning whether Thomas Edison State College offered such a degree.
Even McGrath seemed confused, telling me Thursday, "I just don't know the specifics of exactly what his degree was in, so I just left it with online (sic) degree with an emphasis in measurement science." (McGrath later acknowledged removing "online" and said the change was an oversight.)
Luna's official bio is agnostic on the liberal arts/measurement science question, saying, "Tom originally moved to Idaho with his wife Cindy 30 years ago to attend college at BYU-Idaho (formerly Ricks College). Tom also attended Boise State University and later graduated from Thomas Edison State College."
Having talked with the Guzzardo at Thomas Edison, I'm hoping to put this to rest.
Luna has a general liberal arts degree, like hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans. Maybe McGrath doesn't like the word "liberal." Nevertheless, what matters is that in the same year his name first appeared on the ballot Luna satisfied Idaho's legal requirement that candidates for superintendent hold a bachelor's degree.
FYI, I looked up how we've covered the Luna degree. The first mention in the Statesman was on March 30, 2002, shortly before the May primary, got it right. Here it is:
Former Nampa School District trustee earns degree, right to seek office
Tom Luna, former Nampa School District trustee, has earned a degree in time to join the race for state superintendent of public instruction ("Nampa man wants to be state schools chief, " Sept. 21). One of the requirements for a statewide office is a college degree.
Luna, a Republican, received a bachelor of arts degree March 15 from Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, N.J., through the college's distance-learning program.
"I'm excited to have it done, " he said. "It was a lot of work and a lot of time, but it's worth it."
Luna said he attended Ricks College and Boise State University in the early 1980s, but left his studies to join the company he now owns, Scales Unlimited Inc. in Nampa.
Luna is seeking the post now held by Democrat Marilyn Howard. He recently stepped down from the School Board to focus on the race.
But by Sept. 27, 2002, we too had added the specialty, writing, "Luna is freshly graduated with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts emphasizing weights and measures from Thomas Edison State College, a New Jersey school that specializes in distance learning."
Why that amplification was added, I've no idea.
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