Idaho K-12 Chief Tom Luna Announces He Won’t Seek Another Term in 2014

By Andrew Ujifusa — January 27, 2014 1 min read
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Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced Jan. 27 that he will not seek a third term in 2014, according to the Associated Press. Luna, a Republican, said at his announcement that not running again would actually help the policies promoted by the state’s Task Force for Improving Education, which issued broad recommendations for K-12 changes last August. Those recommendations, which he planned to implement, would do better, according to Luna, if they weren’t attacked by opponents in the course of a re-election effort on his part.

“I’m going to be working hard for the next 11 months, not being distracted with a campaign,” Luna said. “Everything I’ve done this legislative session has been looked at through this [election] lens.”

Luna, a Republican, was first elected to the state superintendent’s job in 2006, and re-elected in 2010. He survived a recall push after that second election, but his tenure will always be remember in part for his failure to obtain voter approval for the “Luna Laws,” which the legislature passed in 2011. These laws, which included new restrictions on collective bargaining in the state and more money for technology in schools, were defeated as ballot initiatives in 2012 after stiff opposition from teachers’ unions.

This isn’t the first time Luna has expressed regret about how the political process has influenced policymaking. After his proposals’ defeat in 2012, Luna said he regretted not spending more time outside the statehouse and building understanding and support for his ideas around the state.

The survival of the Common Core State Standards might also take a hit with Luna’s departure at the end of the year. He’s been a consistent defender of the standards, which have aroused some opposition in Idaho.

The AP says that Luna has discussed the state superintendent’s position with a former GOP state senator, Melinda Smyser, although it’s unclear from the story if Smyser will run or not, since she didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Roughly a month ago, on Dec. 20, Chiefs for Change, an affiliate of the Foundation for Excellence in Education that promotes data-based teacher evaluations and school choice, announced that Luna had become a member. As it turns out, in roughly a year, it seems he’ll become a member emeritus.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.