Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to another term in office. Luna was first elected to the office in 2006 and won re-election to a second term in 2010.
“It seems that all my actions currently are being filtered through a re-election lens,” Luna said at a press conference at the Capitol. “Because of this, I believe there are some who currently support what we are doing, but who might feel the need to distance themselves from this work—or even oppose it—simply because they think it might benefit me politically in the future. I want to take that off the table. For that reason, I will not seek reelection in 2014. This is not a decision I came to easily, but I know it is the right decision for me, for my family and ultimately for the children of Idaho.”
The race to be Idaho’s next state schools chief is already shaping up to be a fairly competitive one for the 2014 election cycle among Republicans. On Friday, American Falls school principal Randy Jensen formally announced that he’ll be running for the position, and Grangeville teacher John Eynon has filed paperwork necessary to begin fundraising for a prospective campaign while his personal website declares that he is running for the office.
Eynon opposes the Common Core national academic standards agenda, while Jensen has said that he supports the agenda, but has concerns about its testing system. Jensen has also announced that he supports the recommendations of Gov. Butch Otter’s education task force; neither Jensen nor Eynon have details of their respective policy positions on their websites, although Eynon’s website displays a banner that reads “Common Sense, Not Common Core.”
Idaho Falls Democrat Jana Jones also declared her candidacy for the superintendent’s position earlier this month. The founder of the Progressive Day School early childhood education center in eastern Idaho, Jones previously worked with Gov. Cecil Andrus’ administration on education policy issues. She ran against Luna in 2006 and lost. According to her campaign website she now works for a national public education consulting firm. Her website does not specify positions on either the Common Core agenda or the governor’s task force recommendations.
Luna Monday spoke of what he believes are his greatest accomplishments while in the office, including the creation of the Idaho Math Initiative, connecting portions of teacher performance evaluations to student academic performance and “closing the digital divide” between rural and urban school districts by expanding the availability of online educational access statewide.
In an interview with IdahoReporter.com, Luna noted that he believes that among his greatest achievements was the fact that he made good on his original campaign promise from 2006. “As I go back and look at what we originally campaigned on in 2006, having an education system that is customer driven, expanded choices for students and parents, a system that has more local control, back then these things were novel.”
Today, Luna added, “we have these things embedded in our education system and we have legislation today that will move these things forward.”