BOISE -- For the first time after the Nov. 6 election, Idaho Superintendent of Public instruction Tom Luna sat down with the media. He answered every question about his education reform laws after voters repealed Propositions 1, 2 and 3.
Luna talked candidly about the election and what he believes is going to happen now that the Students Come First laws will be stripped from the books. But he also seemed eager to start work again.
His biggest statement Monday was that education reform is needed in Idaho and moving forward he would like to see the process be more transparent.
Luna told reporters Monday he couldn't help but feel exhausted.
“I was,” he said. “I was just mentally and physically done, and so I just had to take some time and sleep.”
But Luna said that doesn't mean education reform stops.
“I think that it’s critical that we work together and identify parts of the legislation that have support among all stakeholders,” he said. “I think that's easy to move forward in this next legislative session, what those are? I don’t know just yet.”
Although the votes didn’t go in his favor he said Idahoans are talking about the future of students, and that is something good.
“So we can’t wait, our kids can’t wait for adults to figure this out. So we are going to have to set aside our emotions and set aside our egos and as adults work together to do what is best for our children, and waiting is not what’s best for our children," Luna said.
He believes there are positive things in Students Come First that he would like to see carry over into the next legislative session, such as teacher merit pay and laptops.
“For example, we currently have students in high school that are earning college credits paid for by the state. Those programs are gone by November 21st,” Luna said.
Going into the election, he knew Proposition 3, the technology in the classroom law, was standing on unsteady ground.
“I really believe that if a third of our schools had the laptops, and people saw the benefit of that, that it would have changed people’s opinion of Prop 3. But I think that because we had not been able to implement it, that I think it created a heavier lift,” he said.
Now, Luna says some school districts will lose money they already had in their budgets and jobs will get cut.
“There are tens of millions of dollars that districts are expecting this school year that we don’t have the legal authority to distribute,” said Luna.
Luna does have one regret, and that was using the phrase “union thuggery.”
But he says that was frustration that came off the heels of three different incidents. His vehicle was vandalized, a live TV interview was interrupted by someone from the opposition, and an angry teacher knocked on the door of his mother’s house -- all in just 48 hours.
Since the election, Luna said there have been phone conversations with representatives of the Idaho Education Association, and they are set to meet in person in the future.