Tom Luna, superintendent of public instruction, says he remains fully supportive of both components of Common Core–the academic standards themselves as well as the accompanying national student testing consortium.
While there is a way for the state to abandon Common Core, Luna, who has announced he will not seek re-election this fall, told IdahoReporter.com that it is not as simple as just saying no.
“I think it’s interesting to know that only four states in the country had their legislatures involved in the adoption of these academic standards,” Luna said. “Idaho is actually one of those four states.”
Idaho’s full Legislature never did vote on the Common Core initiative. The agenda was adopted through the “rules” process, whereby the Idaho State Board of Education recommended that the state join the initiative. Subsequently, the House and Senate education committees approved the recommendation.
Luna noted that this same process was utilized in adopting academic standards in 2002, and again in 2007.
When asked if the full Legislature should have a vote on the Common Core initiative, as some legislators are now advocating, Luna responded that the Idaho Constitution regards the State Board of Education as a part of the executive branch, and imparts to it certain powers.
“Graduation requirements, academic standards, all those types of things have been decided by the state board, and then they are presented before the House and Senate education committees. If people think that process needs to be expanded, I don’t have a problem with that conversation, but I think we need to understand what the constitutional responsibilities are for the state board and for the Legislature,” explained Luna. “Really, it’s about the executive and legislative branches, and the proper balance there.”
Luna also said that Idaho’s participation with the Common Core agenda is not tied to federal funding. “We did not receive federal dollars from Washington when we adopted the Common Core standards and we would not lose federal funding if we chose other standards,” he said.
Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, a member of the Senate Education Committee, has introduced legislation that he said “would require that the Legislature ratify by statute any effort of the Idaho Department of Education to collaborate with any multi-state consortium or the federal government as it pertains to student testing, curriculum and data.”
After Fulcher presented his legislative proposal, Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, chair of the committee, commented that he has some of the same concerns as Fulcher, but added, “I have problems with the constitutionality of this and the balance of powers on this. We will be discussing this in committee in the days ahead.”
Last month, Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, told IdahoReporter.com that she remains fully supportive of the academic standards of Common Care, but has concerns over the testing component of the initiative.
Luna maintains that if Idaho chooses to abandon the Common Core initiative, the same process that was used in the initiative’s adoption would need to be engaged; that is, the state board would need to present to the Senate and House education committees a different plan for academic standards.