I love Pocatello, warts and all. Great people, beautiful surroundings, lots of good restaurants, some progressive politics, enough free thinkers to counteract the religionists and the bigots, and a low cost of living. Sure, we have our Tea Baggers and other morons, but we have a University, Unions, and The First National Bar too. Yesterday I volunteered at the annual Riverfest and we had a great time, despite uncooperative weather. If you missed it, then you missed one of the events that makes Pocatello a great place to live. Here are some pics.
Category Archives: repeal luna laws
Larry Gephardt, fellow Rotarian and Pocatello resident, submitted the following commentary to the Idaho State Journal. Some his thoughts parallel my own as published in the Journal about a week ago. Larry is married to School District 25 Trustee, Janie Gephardt.
Idaho Education Reform…What’s Next?
Do you believe that education and the economy are connected? Do Idaho citizens and employers need effective K-16 education (high school plus job skills), higher education and life-long learning to compete in the globalizing economy? Are education and sustainable, high-quality living connected?
Tom Luna’s run up to 2010 election as Superintendent of Public Instruction suggested that Idaho’s K-12 system was good and should be funded. Then he changed his mind in early 2011, said Idaho teaching basically sucks, and ultimately offered three pieces of legislation to make things better. These bills were passed and signed into law but criticized by thousands of Idaho citizens in testimony, correspondence, and subsequent petitions. The Idaho State Board of Education is under fire by national organizations for ineffectively meddling in university financing and governance.
Some Idaho legislators told me that votes for the Luna plans and support of SBOE happened because no alternative approaches to better education at equal or less cost (or other funding options) were offered. So I hear this situation as a challenge for thinking through Idaho’s culture of learning and education then exploring adaptive change through collaborative processes. The Tea Party gained some popularity in opposition to top-down federal government. This is a chance to question top-down state government. A major flaw in Luna and SBOE leadership is that it is top-down, authoritarian, inviting little participation.
If we look through toilet-paper tubes solely at education funding, we will be fighting over pieces of the Idaho budget pie. Are there ways to think about making the pie bigger for everyone? Re-stated, how can we synergize education and economy to create more sustainable wealth and good jobs for Idaho? Presuming citizens will vote in referendum against the three Luna education bills in November, 2012, what will be alternatives that our legislators can then pass with good public acceptance?
Could greater Pocatello develop an education-economy model that might work? Do we as citizens have the courage and energy to at least try to create a design? Here are some questions. What is our culture of connected education and economy? What are our values, our beliefs, and our daily ‘habits of the heart’ or rituals about learning and work? What role models do children have at home, in the community? What motivates people to learn and to work? How can we provide better tools and methods for all of us to gain knowledge, skill, and abilities, and a sense of inter-connected wholeness to make sense of it all?
Older generation people were motivated by carrots and sticks, that is rewards and punishments. New neuroscience suggests that younger generations are motivated by a desire for some autonomy – a say in their tasks, teammates and schedules. They are motivated by a need for mastery – to be very good at what they do whether sports, hobbies or work. And younger generations are motivated by a sense of purpose – that is a higher good beyond just themselves. Could an education-economy model be built on these motivators?
There is growing evidence that mass collaboration in communities and groups can converge to effective consensus with real results quite quickly. Don Tapscott’s book Wikinomics cites a range of open-source and collaborative projects. The story of revitalized GoldCorp gold mining in Canada through an international contest with prizes reveals how a failing company is now valued at billions of dollars. Many people use the collaboratively developed Wikipedia as an information source. The Pilgrims and Puritans coming to America self-organized before the constitution to create very effective public, technical, and higher education that became a major lever for America’s industrial and wealth-creating enterprise. Modern Europe, India and China have learned lessons from America and are investing in education-economy connections.
How would a look at collaboration around an education-economy system get started? Some of Pocatello’s best changes begin with groups of interested stakeholders coming together in civil discourse, listening to, and thinking with each other. Who are stakeholders in this process? The K-12 system of parents, maturing children, teachers, administrators, trustees are some. Employers and professional associations, service clubs, and public media are others. Post high-school schools, Idaho State University and government or economic development agencies are others. There are some very wise and experienced retired folk in Pocatello.
A process of adaptive change can move toward win-win results by honestly stating visions and fears, asking ‘what’s in it for me?’ questions, offering to compromise and re-think when conflicts arise. If we don’t take this initiative as a community, will we be simply fighting over the Luna laws next year? Let’s get going.
1200 Aspen Drive
Pocatello, ID 83204
I was interviewed today by The Huffington Post. You can read it here:
Press release today from Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform:
Idaho citizens are eager to have a chance to vote on the three education laws passed by the Idaho Legislature. That’s the message sent by more than 48,000 citizens who have signed each of the three petitions to put the laws to referendum votes next year.
“We are announcing today that we have passed 47,432 verified signatures for each of the three petitions,” said Mike Lanza, chair of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform. The parent-led committee initiated the petition drives on April 8 and the Idaho Education Association joined the coalition a week later.
“We’re still collecting signatures because we know that many Idahoans still want to sign the three petitions,” Lanza added. “We know that people don’t want to see the larger class sizes, layoffs and unfunded technology mandates that these laws are already causing.”
“Our members have joined with parents and other working Idahoans to collect these signatures in just 40 days,” said IEA President Sherri Wood. “Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to vote on the laws until November 2012, but by then, Idahoans will have seen ample evidence on just how damaging these laws are.”
County clerks offices across Idaho continue to verify signatures. Organizers will deliver the petitions to the Secretary of State’s office in Boise and hold a news conference on Monday, June 6. The petitions will not be officially qualified until the Secretary of State’s office reviews them.
We must keep gathering to gather at least 60,000 signatures as there will surely be challenges from the so-called “Freedom Foundation” or other Right-wing Luna supporters. And Don’t forget we still have a month to gather enough signatures to Recall Luna. IT CAN BE DONE!!
In Idaho, the loonitarian right has taken over the Republican Party. This was made clear to me by the fact that the Local Republican Women are hosting a fundraiser in Pocatello, charging 10 bucks to see the incredibly unwatchable movie version of Ayn Rand’s incredibly unreadable novel Atlas Shrugged. The fact that Rand, a third rate writer with a fourth rate philos0phy, was an active atheist doesn’t even register with this band of white mormon/fundy/evangelical housewives and amway pushers. Rand spent the last years of her life on the dole, but that doesn’t seem to phase these folks for whom reality is an inconvenience, easily dismissed. At Huffington Post today Alan Krinsky posts an article “It began With Ayn Rand”.
Ayn Rand’s world is one without community, a place where rugged individuals achieve success all on their own. Rand is therefore blind to the societal infrastructure that makes the accumulation of wealth possible and makes a polity stable enough for an economy to function. I would suggest that the logical outcome of Rand’s philosophy is a fractured world, where the wealthy pay paramilitary forces to protect them in their gated communities. It is a world not of some ideal, free market competition, but one in which the absence of regulations leads to monopolization, the further concentration of wealth, and the breakdown of consumer protections. And in that sort of world, the production of wealth becomes more difficult, even for the wealthy. As trite as the phrase has become, it does take a village. Individual success and triumph often requires individual initiative and perseverance, but it also depends upon so much else and so many other people to create and maintain the foundations of a stable society.
Read the whole piece here.
Also, you might enjoy this
- Chuck Colson Warns the Right: Ayn Rand Hated God (reason.com)
- Ron Paul’s godless goddess of greed: Ayn Rand (thehill.com)
- Radical RAND: The Truth About GOP Hero Ayn Rand (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- William F. Buckley did not heart Ayn Rand (maureenholland.wordpress.com)
- Ayn Rand: The GOP’s Godless Philosopher (swampland.time.com)
- Senator Ayn Rand (duanegraham.wordpress.com)
I know of at least three or four petition/referendum signers yesterday who indicated that they had been on the fence but had been brought to the light by the actions and words of Tom Luna in the previous week. Thanks Tommy. We couldn’t do this without your continuing help.
A signature gatherer reported the following after yesterday’s work:
I have to tell you, Tom Luna’s Uncle approached me today at a site and told me he was his Uncle and thought he was a jerk. He signed the petition and said his @#*&!*# nephew (his words, not mine) needs to go because he is a liar. This man is in his late 80′s and can’t see well but he knows his nephew. [He signed the petitions]
I have written here before that Tom Luna is the single most reviled politician I have run across in my 25 years in Idaho. Apparently, he intends to help keep it that way. I’m reminded of a school board member a few years ago who liked to make public pronouncements and write to the newspaper, expounding on the dispute the district was in with the union. At the end of the year (after we had settled the dispute, mostly in our favor) I jokingly suggested that we should nominate her for a Friend of the PEA award because every time she wrote to the paper or opened her mouth we gained new members. Tommy Luna provokes much the same reaction, so I offer up my sincere thank you for a job poorly done.
- Educational-Industrial Complex, Idaho-Style (crooksandliars.com)
- Is a shift occurring? (ridenbaugh.com)
This great photo of Tommy Boy and his fellow graduates, Jimmy and Billy, appeared on the great blog, Clarence Worly’s Southeast Idaho Check it out but be prepared; if you are offended by profanity, Clarence certainly isn’t.
MEET TOM LUNA
AND HIS COLLEGE GRADUATION CLASS FROM
THOMAS EDISON STATE COLLEGE IN 2002!!
L – R: Billy Crowder- Certificate of Completion in Auto Body
Tom Luna- BA in Weights and Measures
Jimmy Carbunkle- BA in American English
My understanding is that Tom bought completed his 2-yr on-line degree in only 90 days, WOW!!
Be sure to put on next years’ calendar their 10 yr reunion !!!
There will be a block of rooms for the alumni, family and friends at Motel 8,
And the celebratory dinner at Denney’s!!!
Friend Susan Johnson thought this picture of the boys needed something so she added graduation caps. you can view that here.
- Surprise! Tom Luna is a liar. (billspeasoup.wordpress.com)
filed yesterday by Caldwell teacher Travis Manning. Bravo Travis!
Official Complaint Against Mr. Luna 5-16-11—page 1
May 16, 2011
Christina Linder, Director of Certification/Professional Standards
State Department of Education
P. O. Box 83720
Boise ID 83720-0027
Michael McPeek, Deputy Attorney General DOE
Office of the Attorney General
700 W. Jefferson Street, Suite 210
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0010
RE: Official Complaint, Violation of Code of Ethics by Mr. Tom Luna,
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to Principle IX d. of the Code of Ethics for Idaho Professional Educators, it is my
duty as an Idaho educator to report the following violations of said code by Idaho
Superintendent Tom Luna. “Having knowledge of a violation of the Code of Ethics for
Idaho Professional Educators and failing to report the violation to an appropriate education
official” would be unethical and unprofessional. As a teacher in Idaho, I have “a
substantial interest in the matter,” as noted in the Code (14).
The first violation by Mr. Luna is found in his May 13, 2011, email
http://freepdfhosting.com/4a2b0d4e2e.pdf to Idaho District Superintendents, Charter
School Administrators and School Board Trustees, Subject: Political Activities on School
Grounds, which email was subsequently forwarded to thousands of Idaho educators:
“With the specific exception of elections for union offices, no ‘institutional privileges’ are
to be used for political purposes. This includes, but is not limited to, activities such as
using the school district e-mail system to coordinate political activities, creating and
printing political materials, engaging in political proselytizing to a classroom of students,
urging 18-year old students to vote a particular way in an election, using students as
couriers for political material and allowing the use of the school to further political
Official Complaint Against Mr. Luna 5-16-11—page 2
agendas in conjunction with any school activity or event, including after-school events.”
According to Idaho Statute
“33-601. Real and personal property — acquisition, use or disposal of same. The board of
trustees of each school district shall have the following powers and duties:
(7) “To authorize the use of any school building of the district as a community center, or
for any public purpose, and to establish a policy of charges, if any, to be made for such
School boards may designate schools “for any public purpose,” which may include
political activities. “Institutional privileges” do not cover events that happen before or
after regular school hours, on weekends, holidays, or during summer break when students
are not in school. Mr. Luna has overreached Idaho Statute, and in doing so places himself
in a precarious legal and ethical position. Schools are community and public buildings that
may be utilized by Idaho citizenry when school is not in session for whatever purpose they
deem appropriate, and for which they have receive permission from the local school board,
or its designee.
Referring again to Mr. Luna’s email dated May 13, 2011, Idaho students who are 18 years
of age or older and a registered voter may, of their own choice, choose to participate in
whichever political causes they deem worthy and appropriate; many, who are seniors in
high school, fall into this category of being “a qualified elector.” See the Idaho
Constitution in this regard, “Article VI Suffrage and Elections”:
“Section 2. Qualifications of Electors. Every male or female citizen of the United States,
eighteen years of old, who has resided in this state, and in the county where he or she
offers to vote for the period provided by law, if registered as provided by law, is a qualified
If 18 year-old students volunteer to participate in political activities, without any sort of
prompting from state employees, they are protected by Idaho Statute in doing so. To deny
18 year-old high school students the right to engage in political discourse and activism
sends the wrong message, not only to Idaho voters, but to future Idaho voters, that they can
only be actively engaged in education or other issues if they are choosing to support the
current state official in power, and her/his political agenda. Democracy works when we
follow all prescribed rules as outlined by state law and other legal, guiding documents.
Under “Aspirations and Commitments” in the Code of Ethics, “The professional educator,
recognizing that students need role models, will act, speak and teach in such a manner as to
exemplify nondiscriminatory behavior and encourage respect for other cultures and
Official Complaint Against Mr. Luna 5-16-11—page 3
Unlike the vast majority of Idaho’s “professional educator(s),” Mr. Luna did not
“exemplify nondiscriminatory behavior” this last legislative session with S1108 that
effectively ends collective bargaining between teachers and school districts, except for
negotiating salaries and benefits. Mr. Luna, general of a vast army of educators, turned on
his own troops. Out of spite for the Idaho Education Association, which publicly
supported his opponent Stan Olsen in the elections of 2010, he took measures to introduce
legislation to limit the effectiveness of the statewide teacher’s union. Mr. Luna’s behavior
was inexcusable and petty, and was debilitating for the morale of the Idaho teaching force,
both current and future. The respect that Idaho educators give to their tens of thousands of
students was not afforded them by the state superintendent of public instruction, Mr. Luna.
Principle V in the Code of Ethics:
“A professional educator entrusted with public funds and property honors that trust with a
high level of honesty, accuracy, and responsibility. Unethical conduct includes but is not
g. “Deliberate use of poor budgeting / accounting practices.”
Intentionally underestimating the state education budget by as much as 74 million dollars
is damaging to Idahoan children, schools, and families and is an example of “deliberate use
of poor budgeting/accounting practices.” Luna, along with the Idaho legislature and
Governor Otter, totally ignored Idaho’s veteran economist Mike Ferguson, who has since
retired. (See the Idaho Statesmen’s Jeff Richert at
Grossly underestimating the state budget has forced Idaho school boards to raise tens of
millions through levies in order to maintain current operating costs, which operating
budgets have already been scaled back well over 200 million dollars the two years
previous. The “fiscal crisis” Mr. Luna has been stumping on was grossly overstated, and
was used as an opportunity to institute pet projects, like requiring all high school students
to take multiple online courses.
Principle X in the Code of Ethics:
“A professional educator ensures just and equitable treatment for all members of the
profession in the exercise of academic freedom, professional rights and responsibilities
while following generally recognized professional principles. Unethical conduct includes
but is not limited to:
b. “Committing any act of harassment toward a colleague;
c. “Conduct that is offensive to the ordinary dignity, decency, and morality of others;
e. “Using institutional privileges for the promotion of political candidates or for political
activities, except for local, state or national education association elections;
g. “Willfully interfering with the free participation of colleagues in professional
Official Complaint Against Mr. Luna 5-16-11—page 4
Mr. Luna has not ensured “equitable treatment for all members of the profession in the
exercise of … professional rights and responsibilities while following generally recognized
professional principles.” Mr. Luna failed to include public school educators in the
planning stages of his sweeping plan to overhaul and reform education in Idaho. Mr.
Luna’s attitude toward Idaho teachers as a whole can be seen as “harassment toward …
colleague[s],” as well as “offensive to the ordinary dignity, decency, and morality of
others.” Mr. Luna has “willfully” interfered “with the free participation of colleagues in
professional associations” by demagoguing the Idaho Education Association. The only
portion of Mr. Luna’s education reform plan that he sought feedback for was the pay-forperformance
piece, and which the IEA only supported with “new money” – instead of
cutting positions, salaries and benefits to pay for it.
Mr. Luna’s refusal to debate IEA President Sherry Wood, a woman, at Timberline High
School March 11, 2011, is yet another indication of his disdain for the union. If the state
leader of education doesn’t include teachers and the teachers union in the dialogue on
education reform—willfully refuses to dialogue—s/he does Idahoans a great disservice.
And Mr. Luna’s actions have been a disservice to our great state.
Mr. Luna used “institutional privilege” to allow a practice ISAT question about the
benefits of online classes be used for English students. The controversial practice question
was brought to the attention of his office by a parent whose child took issue with it while
preparing for the state exam in his class at school. Luna’s office quickly removed the
question from the Department of Education website. Luna’s office claimed a third party
wrote it, but one has to wonder if he knows all that goes on in his own office.
Mr. Luna has repeatedly visited public schools and discussed his political perspectives and
viewpoints from this vantage position, both during and after school hours. Stumping in
public schools is unethical and is a violation of the Code of Ethics for Idaho Professional
Educators, which he should be aware of, as he lambasted Idaho teachers for the same thing,
again, in his May 13, 2011, email (see PDF link above). Apparently Mr. Luna can use the
campus of Idaho State University, a public school, for a Wednesday April 27, 2011
meeting promoting his political agenda, but if educators wanted to either hold a meeting
for or against his policies on public school grounds, they are violating the Code of Ethics?
Again from Mr. Luna’s email dated May 13, 2011, where is the evidence to substantiate
the claim that “there have been numerous reports” of unethical behavior? And if Mr.
Luna’s office has been receiving the reports and NOT recommending to the complainants
that they file a formal complaint with the Idaho Professional Standards Commission, then I
suggest that Mr. Luna and his staff are violating the ethical standards cited in his e-mail,
which states that “having knowledge of a violation of the Code of Ethics for Idaho
Official Complaint Against Mr. Luna 5-16-11—page 5
Professional Educators and failing to report the violation to an appropriate education
official is a violation of subsection 10d of the Code of Ethics.”
“Aspirations and Commitments”:
“The professional educator regards the employment agreement as a pledge to be executed
in a manner consistent with the highest ideals of professional service. He believes that
sound, professional, personal relationships with colleagues, governing boards, and
community members are built upon integrity, dignity, and mutual respect. The professional
educator encourages the practice of the profession only by qualified persons” (4).
Mutual respect? I suppose that includes respect from both the top and bottom of the
education food chain, from Mr. Luna down and from educators on up? Then, why the
disrespect for teachers and teacher’s unions from Mr. Luna this past legislative session?
And, how is it that a state superintendent with an online degree in weights and measures be
considered a “qualified person”? Why is it that a state superintendent with no professional
background in education be allowed to run the state of Idaho’s public education system?
And, why are teachers lambasted when they are “discouraging toward Mr. Luna” for not
being an educator himself, as we are merely following the Code of Ethics for Idaho
Professional Educators, which, by rule, asks us to question his credentials, or lack thereof?
Finally, if for some unforeseen reason this Code of Ethics allegedly does not apply to Mr.
Luna, why is our top state education official not held to the same, high standard that
Idaho’s professional educators are? Why would Mr. Luna be above this Code of Ethics for
Idaho Professional Educators? And why is it that Mr. Luna would be held to a lower
standard? If this is the case, I need your help to negotiate these disparities.
Thank you for your assistance in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.
520 East Ash St.
Caldwell, ID 83605
P.S. Of note, apparently none of this Code of Ethics applies to classified staff—so
educational assistants, janitors, secretaries, and lunch room workers can politic to their
heart’s content within the four walls of our schools? Thank heaven someone may have free
speech rights in our schools. It’s about time classified employees got a little respect.
IEA Chief Counsel John Rumel has indicated that because Luna is an elected official and a non-educator with no need to be certified, the Idaho Code of Ethics does not apply to him. Certainly, I have never seen any evidence that Tommy Boy gives a damn about ethics.
Letter To The Editor: Republicans
lay siege to teachers group
One thing that amazes me as I gather signatures for both the recall and the referendums is the distaste that people show for Luna and what he is doing to students, to teachers, and to Public Education in Idaho. That,and the bi-partisan nature of the revulsion that I’m seeing and hearing has surprised me somewhat. About a third of the people I contact at these events are Republicans or independents, some of whom voted for Tommy Boy twice. I have reported before about the volunteer who encountered a man who claimed to have been Luna’s Sr. Campaign manager in a previous campaign and now regretted it, calling it “The worst mistake I ever made.” He is no longer and Idaho resident and couldn’t sign the petitions although he wanted to
My wife and I first moved to Idaho in 1985. (My wife was actually born in Pocatello but we were both raised in Nebraska.) A lot of political water has gone under the bridge since then and we have had many political figures, both loved and unloved. Superintendent Ann Fox was widely disliked and quickly replaced. One Republican Congressman did jail time. In that time, I have never seen a politician as strongly reviled by such a wide spectrum of the public as is Tom Luna. On a national level he has some heavy competition from various governors, corrupt mayors, and various Congress Critters, but in Idaho he is “A” Number One, King of the Hill, Top of the Heap. Congrats Tommy Boy. you have arrived.