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Earlier this morning, long-time Idaho political observer Randy Stapilus pointed out Democrats in Idaho fared worse than their brethren throughout the country in the big Republican victory. Noting that Congressman Walt Minnick is one of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives, he said that Democrat gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred and superintendent of public schools candidate Stan Olson were solid candidates who got stomped. Then, he points out that Democrats will some of the few seats they have in the Idaho House, concluding: “The point is this: Idaho Democrats are going to have to figure out a different way of doing things if they want to move beyond fringe status. Will they?”
Question: Is there any way for Idaho Democrats to return to respectability?
Olson accused Luna of failing to plan ahead for possible cuts. When Luna touted his efforts to unearth $22 the million of endowment reserves to help offset this year’s cuts, Olson dismissed it as a last-minute ploy and a poor precedent. And there was even some snark about academic credentials, as Olson made a point of reminding Idahoans that he has had to defend a doctoral dissertation. “I’ll have to tell you about that someday,” Olson told Luna/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: What role will the unprecedented budget cuts to public education play in the elections for governor and superintendent of schools?
Democratic Idaho State Department of Education Superintendent candidate Stan Olson, left, and Republican incumbent Tom Luna debate at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise on Tuesday in a statewide broadcast produced by Idaho Public Television. You can read Betsy Russell’s coverage of last night’s debate here. And: blow-by-blow coverage of the debate by Betsy on her blog here. (AP Photo/The Idaho Statesman, Joe Jaszewski)
Question: Who is the best candidate for superintendent of schools? Why?
It’s debate season, with major debates set in the coming weeks in Idaho’s top political races, giving voters who tune in a chance to see and compare the candidates. The Idaho Debates, which have been sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club and aired on Idaho Public Television live for the past three decades, kick off this week with tomorrow night’s live debate in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, and on Thursday night, debates in the contests for Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
- Monday Poll: Democratic challenger Stan Olson is the preferred choice at Hucks Nation for Idaho Superintendent of Education. 88 of 144 (61.11%) respondents preferred Olson over Republican incumbent Tom Luna, if the election was held today. 56 of 144 (38.89%) opted for Luna. Luna is ahead in the current election polls.
- Today’s Poll: Which is the better name for the week before the Boise State game, on the University of Idaho campus?
Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood speaks at a statehouse rally Friday for Stan Olson for state superintendent of schools. Betsy Russell reported over the weekend that 95 percent of Idaho’s teachers support Olson, who is challenging current Superintendent Tom Luna. Story here. (SR photo: Betsy Russell)
Question: Will Democrat Stan Olson be helped much by the fact that 95 percent of Idaho teachers support him over incumbent Republican Tom Luna?
Stan Olson, the Democratic challenger to GOP state schools Superintendent Tom Luna, is criticizing Luna’s move to do away with a standardized test on science as a graduation requirement in Idaho, a move approved yesterday by the state Board of Education. “Given the critical need in areas such as health care, high-tech, energy and agriculture there is no more important subject to a child’s development and their future opportunities than science,” Olson said. “By removing proficiency in science as a graduation requirement, Mr. Luna is not only selling our kids short, he’s endangering some of our economy’s most important employers.”
Olson said it’s not just yesterday’s move he objects to; he’s concerned that new science graduation requirements adopted by the state four years ago have languished, without leadership from Luna to get Idaho school districts ready to implement them. “The reality is that Mr. Luna focused his time on boondoggles such as performance pay initiatives or ‘Race to the Top’ or a number of other initiatives, and neglected the responsibility … that was before him, and more importantly before every school district in the state,” Olson said. “We’ve been talking for three or four years that districts needed support and consistent assistance from the state department and consistent resource assistance, to get ready for the deployment of those graduate requirements, and particularly what we were going to be doing in science.”
Olson is the just-retired superintendent of the Boise School District, where he served as superintendent from 2002 until June 30 of this year; it’s the second-largest school district in the state, with 25,000 students and a $200 million annual operating budget. He holds a doctorate in education from Western Michigan University, and started his education career as a high school teacher and coach in 1971, going on to serve in numerous administrative posts including district superintendent in Wyoming from 1997 to 2002. Olson, who is making his first run for office, is using the campaign slogan, “A real educator when we need one most!”
Luna, a businessman and former school board member, is Idaho’s first non-educator state superintendent of schools. He’s seeking a second term; his campaign slogan is “Measuring Success One Child at a Time.” Here are links to Luna’s campaign website and Olson’s campaign website.