Tom Luna of Idaho Joins Chiefs for Change; Second New Member in December

By Andrew Ujifusa — December 23, 2013 1 min read
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Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna has joined Chiefs for Change, the second state K-12 chief to do so this month, the group announced on Dec. 20. Luna, along with Delaware chief Mark Murphy, who signed on with the group Dec. 10, brings the group’s total to eight members.

Luna seems like a natural fit for Chiefs for Change, which is an affiliate of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the advocacy group that favors A-F school accountability, online learning, and parent choice that is led by former Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush. For example, he’s an outspoken and unapologetic supporter of the Common Core State Standards, a key tenet for the foundation (Chiefs for Change officially supports “high academic standards” that are internationally benchmarked). In Idaho, that’s not necessarily the easiest stance for a statewide elected official to take. Luna, a Republican, also made a big push for digital learning and new technology in schools, although voters haven’t shown the same enthusiasm.

“I strive every day to make sure we are creating a customer-driven education system that meets the needs of every student in Idaho and provides the best educational opportunities to every child, no matter where they live or go to school,” Luna says in a statement on Chiefs for Change’s website.

When I wrote about Chiefs for Change earlier this month and described the group’s potential challenge in shifting from policy advocacy to policy implementation, there were six members. That was down from a high of nine when Louisiana K-12 boss John White joined the group in early 2012. New Mexico chief Hanna Skandera told me in an interview for the story that she anticipated the group would soon have new members, although she declined to name these possible new recruits.

Luna was first elected to his position in Idaho in 2006, and he won re-election in 2010. There was a petition drive to recall Luna in 2011, but it fell short.

One more interesting note—the two newest states represented in Chiefs for Change, Delaware and Idaho, both belong to the Smarter Balanced testing consortium, one of two such groups developing common-core aligned assessments. Until now, only states in the other consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, had been represented in Chiefs for Change (Oklahoma used to belong to PARCC, but has dropped out).

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