A chastened Tom Luna? Idaho schools chief says he'll wait till 2014 for major reform

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's immediate reaction to voters rebuke of "Students Come First" was to call it a "bump in the road."

That was in November, a few days after all three "Luna Laws" were widely rejected at the ballot box. Since then, Luna's largely flown under the radar.

But he emerged Monday, joining the rest of the statewide elected officials seated behind Gov. Butch Otter for his "State of the State" address.

Otter, Luna's most important partner in the 2011 reform effort, could hardly have been more emphatic about heeding the voters message and waiting for a task force led by the State Board of Education to develop "broad agreement" on reform for the 2014 session.

"I’m convinced that acting too quickly or without due deliberation will generate needless distraction from our goals of improving efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability in our education system," Otter said.

"There was no electoral mandate for the changes we proposed on November 6th. But I also heard no clarion call for the status quo. What I heard was dissatisfaction with the process and a plea for more collaborative leadership. We must respond with appropriate sensitivity and care.

"Let me say it again: I am neither calling for nor expecting major school improvement measures this year. But I believe there are areas in which we can make progress, and I encourage you and all citizens to engage in that public discussion. It’s our very best chance to strengthen the foundation of our future."

KTVB's Dee Sarton was the first to speak with Luna as he left the House chamber after the speech. Satron began by asking about Otter's decision "not to push any major improvements," in her words.

"When it comes to educational improvement it's not a one-year or two-year effort," Luna said. "It's a continual effort. So, we'll see things happening this year, we'll see things happening next year."

Sarton pressed Luna to acknowledge the reality for 2013, saying, "But you obviously had an ambitious plan that got set back and now the governor's indicating that he's really putting the brakes on and doesn't want to see any major decisions until 2014."

Replied Luna: "I agree that you won't see major reform like you did in the form of Students Come First, which was very, very comprehensive. But you will see improvements."

Luna told Sarton his top priority was preparing more students to pursue higher education.

I happened to be seated next to Luna during Otter's speech. We chatted about the decision of my colleague, Statesman editorial page editor Kevin Richert, to leave the paper and join a start-up funded by a key Luna ally in reform, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

Richert starts at Idaho Ed News, which is housed at BSU, Jan. 21. In a tweet Monday, Luna hailed the online site as an independent and comprehensive source for education news.

"I wonder why he'd leave the Statesman," Luna said, in what I took as a gentle jab.

We then talked about Jennifer Swindell, who will edit Idaho Ed News. Swindell is another Statesman alum and my former boss.

"You know who her father-in-law is, right?" Luna said.

Yes, I replied, Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, a reliable vote for Luna.

Then we talked football. Luna said he was eager to watch Monday's BCS Championship between Alabama and Notre Dame. Both the superintendent and I allowed that we'd be rooting for the Irish. "I always root for the underdog," Luna said.

The luckless Irish looked horrible, as it turned out. But two months after his embarrassing defeat, Luna seems to be healing up and taking a more cold-eyed look at the world he now lives in.

1357674816 A chastened Tom Luna? Idaho schools chief says he'll wait till 2014 for major reform Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Mr. Luna’s comments are interesting. May be time for Idaho Citizens to read again Chapter 11 of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Citizens would be flying blind without the work of the Press. Keep digging Idaho Statesman and Treasure Valley Journalists.

We citizens are voracious readers and feel it our duty to stay abreast of current events.

I watched Ms. Sarton's interview with Mr. Luna

My first thought when he brought up the number of Idaho graduates that do not go on to pursue higher ed was: make higher education more affordable and then maybe more students will be able to afford to go on. As it is, the universities in Idaho are close to becoming private institutions in terms of who funds the cost.

Otter, Luna and the GOP legislators want to place the blame on K-12 for the lower number of kids going on to college when in fact, they need to look no further than the mirror to find the people responsible for the paltry funding provided higher education in this state.

Big money for a select few when Public Education is privatized..

Indeed. Idaho Legislators seem intent on defunding Public Education at every level.

Big money can be made by a select few when Public Education is privatized at the expense of Citizens, Taxpayers, Parents, Teachers, and students. How much did the troubled For-profit education industry, K-12 Corporation, Apollo Group/University, etc, funded heavily by tax payer dollars, Federal Student Loans and Grants, pay Idaho Legislators the past two sessions?

Jack Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!" Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002.


RP, What do you consider affordable?

A dollar amount perhaps? A percent of income perhaps? A percentage of expected future earnings (loan payback ratio)?

Please show Idaho university tuition vs our surrounding states' tuition?

Bottom line is Idaho university tuition is very affordable.

It takes good grades (for scholarships), effort to find scholarships and available money, parents saving, students saving and working, borrowing AND choosing a career that directly relates to the combination of the above efforts.

Not so if you have to sell cigarettes and beer at a gas stop.


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.

Salary $93,756.

Tom is paid $93,756 by tax-payers and voted in by tax-payers. Why does he NOT work for the tax-payer?

Unfortunately, Tom will make another push for "reform" in 2014 before a re-election bid in 2014.

What you're saying won't happen

If you think Luna's going to run - let alone get elected - in 2014, you don't know politics very well.

Com' on Slap

I know he won't run which gives him incentive to push this BS one more time.

I can see why you thought that with my previous post after re-reading it...My bad.

The R

next to his name on the ballot will get him elected again should he run.


And that is a good.

The link in the Statesman to Public Employee salaries is useful

Many of my fellow Republicans are tweaking our internal “autovote” mechanism that causes us to involuntarily vote for any name with an “R” after it.

The “baby steps to ethics boys” in our Idaho Legislature, Denney, Moyle, Nonini, Semanko, Labrador before he left for DC and their ilk embarrassed us as did Mr. Luna. The Abramoff and ALEC types served at the expense of Idaho Citizens.

For a Dem or an Indie, you rightfully feel poorly served. Many Republicans feel betrayed and poorly served by the aforementioned odd group of “leaders.”

The Two Party System may be the only effective remedy to counter the “baby steps to ethics boys” in our Idaho Legislature.

I thought it CREATED the mess. You a Tory?


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.

He's still in office?

Low profile Luna is his new name. Some spoiled little brats do run and hide after getting a spanking like Luna got.
Please Luna, leave office. You do not belong in politics at all. You have served no one your entire time. Please take Butchieboy with you.

Luna doesn't matter

The Legislature can still put into place whatever laws it wants, with or without Luna's input.

They need a front to try though.


Apple users, run the Gig of RAM your PC needs to have and read the dumb tech white papers, wrinkle your forehead and buy more food and toilet paper with the difference. The internet is a piece of junk anyway and your cats know this.