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.