Note: This is part 5 of a five-installment series of interviews with Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The series began Monday, Dec. 12.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna came under fire during the debate over his education reform package because some critics of the plan say he didn’t mention it during his run for re-election just months prior.

Luna says he has been talking about reforms for years and that his record shows as much.

The Republican superintendent also talked about his plans to fight three referenda that could overturn the laws in his reform packages.

Over the course of the hearings dedicated to Luna’s legislation, several critics and detractors expressed dismay that the superintendent didn’t talk about his plan to reshape Idaho’s public school system in his 2010 re-election run. Dottie Douglas, a mother from Boise, complained as much during a March 1 hearing on the plan on one of the bills. “I am not happy with what has been done with these bills. … Supt. Luna ran for election on unstated premises. He did not present his plan during the election, only after it,” Douglas said, as reported by Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review.

But Luna feels his record shows his advocacy for all parts of the reform plan prior to the election. “I don’t agree with the statement that this all came out of the blue,” he explained.  “Look at the things I talked about. Those were things I talked about over and over and over as a candidate.”

Interestingly enough, Luna did tell about his merit pay system about a week prior to the 2010 election, but he didn’t mention that he would pursue the plan in the 2011 session.

Still, Luna says he and Gov. Butch Otter decided after election to pursue the whole package to avoid a protracted education battle. “The governor and I realized we were going to get just as much resistance if we did one part of reform, as if we did the whole thing, so we decided to do the whole package.”

The Republican superintendent also told that he plans to defend his laws from the referendum vote slated for the November 2012 election. Otter has said essentially the same thing, vowing to personally campaign against the three referenda next year.

Luna can’t use his office to make direct political attacks on the referenda, but says he will instead tell the public the facts of the laws. “The thing that’s on our side is the fact that a year from now, basically, people will be going to the polls and they are going to see the results of Students Come First,” the superintendent said.

The effects of the laws will be felt in a positive way, Luna said, so much so that Idaho voters won’t be willing to overturn his reform laws. He said that the changes he made to the public school system will completely convince parents that his plan was the right one. “I don’t think anyone is going to want to go back to the old system when they make those comparisons,” he said.

It seems Luna may feel somewhat vindicated if his prediction about the defeat of the referenda pans out. “They (voters) are also going to see the doomsday scenario that was painted by those who opposed these laws, never panned out,” he said.

Note: Video for the series by Mitch Coffman,

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About The Author

Dustin Hurst serves as the Communication Director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He graduated from Boise State in 2009. His work has been featured by Fox News, Townhall, Public Sector Inc., the Daily Caller, Reason, Human Events, the Spokesman Review and more. He and his wonderful wife Julia have two cute kids. The family resides in Middleton.


  1. So he dug up some slight mention of it ahead of the election, did he? Mr. Luna keeps expanding the methodology of dishonest.

    Did he campaign on a program of reform? No, he did not. He campaigned for re-election on how great things were on his watch. And then pulled the Gomer Pyle out of his sleeve.

    As usual, he’s happy to confound getting away with something and “success.” If we don’t have doomsday before the election, then see, his reform was great! Ever the deep thinker.

  2. So much for transparency in government. In the 2010 campaign Luna touted the successes of his adminsitration inferring that Idaho education was just fine. He got elected on this basis. Not bad for a guy with an on line degree (Bachelor of Arts in Weights and Measures) from a school in New Jersay with credits for his work history. (Can you say dipoma mill) Then the 2011 session came and the three education bills were presented. Don’t try to tell us this wasn’t in the works with the Senate and House education chairs in concurrance many months before they were introduced. This was a conspiracy plain and simple.

    Since the Republican party is engaged in “purification” these days these bills passed against over overwhelming opposition from constituents who usually don’t get involved in legislative hearings. What was it something like nine or ten to one against.

    I was able to listen to some of the hearing a bit of the floor debate. I concur with two of the “lions” of our Senate, who opposed SB 1108, Dean Cameron and Denton Darrington neither of whom can be branded with the scarlet letter “L” (liberal). In the words of Senator Cameron, “I find nothing to like about this bill.”

    As an aside, I supposed its a good thing that Governor otter will activley campaign against the referendum. At least we’ll know he won’t be junketing in Hawaii or Florida or going to a rodeo. It’s clear the Governor likes being governor, he just has a tough time doing the hard work of governing.

  3. Listen to this interview and read Mr. Fang’s article. Mr. Luna hasn’t developed anything original with “Students Come First.” It’s right out of the corporate playbook for privatizing public education. Online learning has it’s place, but there is no credible research to support the assertion that online classes will improve learning, test scores, or anything else besides the bottom lines of K-12, Inc. and its industry peers.

  4. All those who are worried should look to moving to other states in which use 19th century tools and teachers.

    Here are a few states for you not to move to which are indeed trying for 21st century leadership:

  5. Tom Luna and Butch Otter have consistently said that opposition to their reforms has come from a few disgruntled liberal teachers and the IEA. But on Page 1 of today’s NYT, a former Marine who served in Iraq – and a Republican – is interviewed as a foe of the technology mandates. By the way, she is not an IEA member.
    Hmmmmm. Could the opposition be much deeper than they think? Could it be tied to the idea that Luna did NOT talk about these reforms before springing them on the state last year?

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