As of 2012, Idaho was ranked 47th in the nation for education by Education Week. This ranking demonstrated that something needed to be done to reform the state’s K-12 schools. Enter State Superintendent Tom Luna and the controversial Students Come First laws, or the more commonly referred to “Luna Laws,” which were repealed during the 2012 election.
On Feb. 18, Boise State’s Politics for Lunch series featured Luna, where he gave a speech about what he has accomplished in the last seven years. The speech was followed by a Q&A session.
One issue Luna discussed was the importance of students gaining college credit while still in high school. He said this was a “critical launching point” for students’ success in college.
Teacher compensation reform, which will affect students currently earning their teaching credentials, was another talking point. Luna said compensating teachers solely based on tenure was unfair to teachers, students and the
“The most important factor in a child’s academic success is the quality of the teacher in the classroom,” Luna said.
Luna admitted some of the reforms he and is colleagues implemented have not been successful.
“Many of our efforts have been successful and some of them have not, but they have led us to where we are today,” Luna said.
Luna said he decided not to run for reelection this year because partisanship in the legislature was getting in the way of reform.
“Everything I was doing, people were looking at through the lens of reelection, so I thought, ‘I’ll just take that off the table.’ The mission and the ideas are far more important than me being state superintendent again,” Luna said.
David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy, decided to invite politicians to speak to students and the general public as a way to encourage civic dialogue and facilitate timely remarks from those public figures.
“It’s also a way of promoting public affairs, which of course is a key mission for Boise State University as tasked by the State Board of Education and it’s really the essence of the Andrus Center. And maybe most importantly, it’s a way of promoting government accountability,” Adler said.
Even though the university held the event, most in attendance were not students.
Melissa Kidd, senior anthropology major, attended because she wanted to get more involved with politics and saw this as the perfect opportunity to start that process.
“I had no basic knowledge of politics really, so I learned a lot. I learned about different policies and how controversial it can get. I’m surprised by how controversial it is,” Kidd said.
Upcoming speakers include Attorney General Lawrence Wasden on March 11 and Representative Mike Simpson on March 18.
If interested, RSVP by calling 208-426-3784 or emailing Cathe Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event starts at 11:30 a.m. and is free, but lunch costs $10. The Andrus Center is located at 301 S. Capitol Blvd.