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Posts tagged: Tom Luna

Common Core ties to federal funding pop up in California, Indiana

According to Idaho’s top public education official, the Gem State would face no cuts in federal funding should it choose to end its participation in the nationwide Common Core academic standards agenda.

However, in states where policymakers have either abandoned or augmented their participation with the national standards agenda, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has used a federal law from last decade—the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) Act—to threaten those states over the appropriation of millions of federal education dollars.

“We did not receive federal dollars from Washington when we adopted the Common Core standards,” said Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. In an exclusive interview with in February of this year, Luna added that “we would not lose federal funding if we chose other standards.”

Yet in both California and Indiana, the USDOE has leveled threats in the face of those states altering their intended paths with Common Core. Last year when California considered the possibility of suspending student testing for a year (Common Core entails annual assessment testing), the USDOE reacted by threatening to withhold some $15 million in administrative funding from the state. More here. IdahoReporter


Educator Joins Superintendent Race

A Mountain Home educator is jumping into the open Republican race for state schools superintendent. Sherri Ybarra says she will focus on three areas in her campaign: providing students with 21st century abilities, not overtesting students, and providing students with a safe and supportive environment. I have proven myself as an effective leader with the commitment and vision it takes to make positive changes in education, and I’ve done this by being hands-on, experienced, dedicated and hard-working,” Ybarra said in a news release Wednesday. Ybarra has worked in several educational capacities over 17 years, as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, federal programs director and curriculum director/Kevin Richert, IdahoED NEWS. More here.

Question: A GOP candidate for superintendent of education with hands-on experience as a teacher, principal & administrator? What will they think of next?

Otter Told Luna To Hold Off Decision

Hours before Tom Luna made his surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election, Gov. Butch Otter placed a pre-dawn phone call asking the schools chief to hold off. State Superintendent Tom Luna, left, announces his decision not to run for re-election on Jan. 27. Luna is joined by (left, to right) his wife Cindy, Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill and Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde. “He wanted to know if I had really thought it through,” Luna said. “The governor didn’t say, ‘I want to talk you out of this.’ What he said is, ‘Can we take more time to discuss this?’” The night before, on Sunday, Luna called Otter and key lawmakers to tell them he would step down when his term ends. After staying up most of the night thinking about it, Otter wasn’t sure if Luna was making the right move/Clark Corbin, IdahoED News. More here. (AP file photo: Luna announces decision not to seek re-election)

Question: Butch was ready to back Luna, despite all the controversy, the wifi snafu, and the rejection of Students Come First laws? Really?

WiFi: Feds Could Force State Payment

If the federal government voids an Idaho broadband project contract, Idaho could be forced to pay back nearly $13.5 million to the feds, state Department of Administration director Teresa Luna said Thursday. Funding for Idaho’s high school broadband network is in indefinite “limbo,” as a federal contractor reviews the state contract. And based on the experience in Idaho school districts, this review could take months or years. Luna updated the Senate Education Committee on the Idaho Education Network’s funding plight Thursday afternoon — and urged lawmakers to support $14.45 million in supplemental funding to keep the program afloat through June 2015/Kevin Richert, The EDge. More here.

Question: $13.5M from Luna snafu. Possibly $27.4M from Treasurer Ron Crane snafu. Aren't Republicans suppose to be the party of fiscal responsibility? What's happening here?

SR: Idaho Needs Education Fix

The current state of education in Idaho could be condensed into one of those melodramatic movie trailers: “In a world where 60 percent of jobs require some post-secondary education, fewer than 40 percent of Idahoans have any credentials beyond a high school diploma.” In fact, that’s the message state schools Superintendent Tom Luna delivered to a special legislative committee on Thursday. With an above-average high school graduation rate, the state might seem like it’s doing well, but the “stark reality,” Luna said, is that the high rate is the product of low standards. The proof is the low percentage of Idahoans who seek to further their education, whether at college or in a technical school. Plus, a high percentage of those who do enroll in colleges need remedial course work to catch up. But the good news is that Idaho leaders are not satisfied/Spokesman-Review. More here.

Question: Do Idaho Republicans finally have the political will to fix the education system that they've allowed to languish during the Great Recession?

Luna Has Friends’ Backs, Vice Versa

It doesn't get much cozier than this. Education Networks of America would not have a five- to 15-year contract to install WiFi in Idaho's high schools were it not for state school Superintendent Tom Luna. Now that Luna is in trouble over the deal, ENA is returning the favor and surrendering one of the most lucrative features of the arrangement - a fixed rate that guaranteed the company the same $2.11 million a year regardless of how many high schools signed up. Instead, it will bill only for services delivered - a change that could deduct more than $225,000 from ENA's profits. “In my mind, what they've done is totally changed the terms of the contract,” retired purchasing agent Scott Sherman told the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell. Sherman handled purchasing matters for Philips Petroleum when it ran the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Do rank-and-file Republicans still support Luna?

Luna: Kids Meet Too Low Standards

Idaho’s education system faces a “stark reality,” state schools Superintendent Tom Luna told a special legislative committee this morning: “Kids are meeting our standards, but they aren’t the right standards any more.” The state has a “very high graduation rate, one of the highest in the country,” Luna said, but one of the lowest percentages of students that go on to further education after high school. “And then we see that of those that do go on, almost half of them have to take remedial courses,” he said. “Thirty-eight percent of them do not go on to their second year.” As a result, fewer than 40 percent of Idaho adults have some sort of degree or certificate beyond high school. “That’s in a world where 60 percent of jobs require some form of post-secondary degree or certificate”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Why don't Idahoan parents and students value college?

Luna’s WiFi Contract Is A Mess

Idaho lawmakers are pressuring state schools superintendent Tom Luna to rework the terms of a Wi-Fi contract he stubbornly authorized in July, but the larger questions of why this deal was done remain unanswered. Lawmakers were stunned when they learned that Luna was about to commit the state to a multiyear contract with renewal options for up to 15 years, at a potential price tag of $33 million. Many legislators didn’t know about the impending deal until contacted by a Spokesman-Review reporter. About the best that can be said of this mess is that public officials may be reluctant to procure services this way again/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.

Question: Is there anything left to be said of the way Superintendent Tom Luna handled the contract for Wi-Fi services with campaign donor Education Networks of America?

Oops! Idaho grad requirements

It turns out that when Idaho increased its high school graduations for math and science to require three years of each, the definition of classes that qualified didn't include advanced engineering or computer science classes. As a result, students who wanted to take those classes only got elective credit, and didn't fulfill their math and science grad requirements.

Now, state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna and the Idaho Technology Council have partnered to propose changes to the state rule to define dual credit engineering, dual credit computer science, or Advanced Placement (AP) computer science as eligible for the math and science credits.

The State Board of Education gave the rule change initial approval at its meeting in Pocatello yesterday; now, it'll go out for public comment, then return for final approval in November. It still would need legislative review, and wouldn't take effect until the 2014-2015 school year. Full story. Betsy Russell, EOB


Luna Seeks Student Data Protection

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna called on Gov. Butch Otter and legislators to safeguard data the state collects from public schools. In a letter sent Thursday to Otter, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, Luna called for an executive order or a bill to ensure no personally identifiable data on students’ or their families’ religious or political affiliations, voting history or biometric information shall be collected, tracked or reported to the federal government. The only exception Luna outlined was data legally required for the Migrant Student Database/Clark Corbin, IdahoED News. More here.

Question: Do you agree with Luna's concern re: protection for student data collecting from public schools?

Wi-Fi: How ENA Landed Contract

On Wednesday, we broke the story that Education Networks of America landed the controversial multiyear high school WiFi contract, even though four bidders beat the company’s price. The takeaway on what happened: The nine people who reviewed the 10 bids gave ENA a decided — and decisive — edge for experience and technology. The committee docked the company only slightly for a middle-of-the-pack cost proposal. Now, let’s take a little deeper dive into the documents that explain the process. Under the state public records act, Idaho Education News obtained the “scoring documents” used by the nine-member technical committee that reviewed the bids — and unanimously supported ENA’s proposal/Kevin Richert, The EDge, IdahoED News. More here.'


4 Bidders Beat ENI ‘Winning’ Wi-Fi Bid

The state Education Department received 10 bids for its controversial high school WiFi contract — and four bids were less expensive than the winning bid. Education Networks of America‘s price tag — $2,111,655 for the first year, $10,558,275 over five years — was by no means the most expensive bid for the project. But a Twin Falls company, Tek-Hut Inc., submitted two bids that beat the Nashville, Tenn.-based company on price. Tek-Hut was the low bidder on the project, according to documents obtained by Idaho Education News on Wednesday under the state’s Public Records Act. The Education Department released the “scoring documents” used by the nine-person review committee, which voted unanimously to award the WiFi contract to ENA/Kevin Richert, The EDge, IdahoEd News. More here.

Question: Curiouser & curiouser?

Rusche: Luna Doesn’t Follow Process

Rep. JMRusche (re: Wi-Fi Deal: State downplays error): “I worry about the State's ability to develop and manage contracts. Molina Medicaid, dept of ed longitudinal data system (x2), CCA or prison health, and the laptops contract (cancelled with the defeat of the referendum last fall)—all could have been much improved by a better process. That is why the legislature had OPE investigate contracting. And we asked the department of Administration to revise and strengthening its process. Unfortunately, the superintendent doesn't need to follow those best practices …”

Question: Can you imagine how loudly Gov. Butch Otter and the Idaho Republican Party would be screaming if a Democratic superintendent of schools had pulled the contract stunt that Luna did?

Wi-Fi Deal: State Downplays Error

When the state Education Department went out for bids on the controversial WiFi installation project, the department issued a list of 333 schools that could qualify for the service. It turns out that the state’s own list was inaccurate — inflated, by roughly one-third. But the list was just an estimate, Education Department spokeswoman Melissa McGrath said Tuesday, and bidders were cautioned not to use it for detailed cost estimates. The state issued the WiFi contract to Education Networks of America last month. First-year costs will run $2.11 million, less than the $2.25 million budgeted by the Legislature — but the contract could potentially run 15 years and cost the state $33.3 million/Kevin Richert, The EDge, IdahoEd News. More here.


54% Of Schools Seek State WiFI

182 of 340 eligible schools have signed up to participate in the state's new statewide high school WiFi contract, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced this morning; schools had until midnight last night to decide whether or not to opt in for the service. That's 54 percent of the eligible schools, which include all high schools, junior highs or middle schools in the state that serve students in grades 9 through 12. With an annual cost of $2,111,655 and 182 schools participating, the state's cost per school next year will be $11,603/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

Question: Are you satisfied with percentage of Idaho high schools that signed up for state-sponsored WiFi?

Poll: Luna Will Hire On w/Onliner

  • Thursday Poll: 39 of 84 respondents (46.43%) say Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna will hire on with a WiFi or online company rather than seek re-election. Another 18 (21.43%) said Luna won't seek re-election. 17 (20.24%) expect him to run for a third term. 10 (11.9%) were undecided.
  • Today's Poll: Which is the best job for Congressman Raul Labrador?

Luna: No Politics In WiFi Contract

Item: School Wi-Fi contract defended: State schools chief: No political influence involved/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: Idaho public schools superintendent Tom Luna said Thursday that the now controversial contract for Wi-Fi service in the state's high schools was developed according to the specific directives of the Idaho Legislature. Luna defended the process his department used in structuring the contract and awarding it to Education Networks of America, a Nashville firm. He claims there was no political influence in the selection of ENA. Critics have said the company was chosen because it made financial contributions to election campaigns for Luna and several state lawmakers

Question: Why didn't you believe me when I told you that there was no political influence involved in the 15-year contract awarded by Superintendent Luna to a campaign contributor?

Luna Faces Common Core Foes

Item: Luna explains Common Core: Idaho standards will be in place in schools this fall/Maureen Dolan, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: A group of North Idaho opponents of the Common Core initiative went head-to-head Thursday in Coeur d'Alene with one of the effort's leading proponents, Idaho public schools chief Tom Luna. The event, an informational meeting organized by Tea Party leader Pam Stout of Bonner County, attracted about 35 people to the Coeur d'Alene Public Library. Luna arrived a few minutes late for the morning gathering, and as he walked to the front of the room, past the waiting audience, he smiled, apologized for being late, and said, tongue-in-cheek, “Am I in trouble?” From the chairs, a man shouted a comment that set the tone for the rest of the one-hour meeting: “Hey Tom, you are in trouble, because you're pushing something we don't want.”

Question: Ya gotta give Luna props for going into the lions den and defending Common Core, right?

Durst: Luna Getting Ready To Bail

“And now, Luna has signed a multiyear contract with ENA to provide wireless internet in Idaho high schools, despite not having the legislative authority to do so and ENA clearly not having the best bid. Luna has also appointed Quarles, his longtime ally to become Deputy Superintendent. But the other shoe is yet to drop. Despite recent reports to the contrary, the fact is that Luna has already informed key State Department of Education staff he has no plans to seek re-election. Instead of running Luna will likely be hired by ENA or K12 to attempt to push the same policies to other unsuspecting GOP dominated statehouses and Quarles will no doubt run to replace Luna and continue the duping of Idahoans. The picture is becoming clearer by the day, I just hope we wake up and see it before it is too late”/Idaho Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise. More here.

Question: What do you think of Sen. Durst's scenario, predicting Superintendent Tom Luna will be hired by ENA or K12 and his deputy superintendent/ally will take his place?

Officials: Don’t judge wireless pact on price

Idaho officials concede the five-year, $2.1 million annual contract the state Department of Education signed Wednesday with a Tennessee company to install Wi-Fi service in public high schools may cost more per-school than deals districts negotiate on their own, the AP reports, but they insist that simple numbers don't tell the whole story.

For instance, the Coeur d'Alene School District was planning to spend $18,000 annually from local tax collections to hire a company to install and manage three high schools' wireless service, or about $5,666 per school, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Under Idaho's pact with Nashville-based Education Networks of America, by comparison, the per-school cost could run nearly four times that amount, or nearly $23,000, on average, based on 93 high schools state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said have so far signed up. More here. Betsy Russell, EOB

“If all 340 high schools in Idaho were to participate in the ENA contract, the average per-school charge would drop to $6,200.”

Sold yet?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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