Tom Luna

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Tom Luna
Superintendent of Public Instruction
In office
December 1, 2006 – December 1, 2014
Preceded byMarilyn Howard
Succeeded bySherri Ybarra
Personal details
Born1958 (age 59–60)
Santa Ana, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Alma materRicks College
Boise State University
Thomas Edison State College

Thomas Luna (born 1958 in Santa Ana, California[1]) is the former Superintendent of Public Instruction in Idaho.

Luna serves the Idaho Republican Party as the Financial Chair of the Executive Committee.[2]


Luna moved to Idaho to attend college at Ricks College in 1981[3] and later attended Boise State University.

He announced his candidacy for state superintendent in September 2001.[4]

In March 2002, Luna graduated from Thomas Edison State College.[5]



Luna expressed interest in running for Idaho's 1st congressional district in 2017.[6] On June 7, 2017, he announced that he would not seek the office[7] or any other for Idaho elections, 2018.[8] Part of his statement read "At this time, I want to continue to focus on my passion for education versus serving in Congress."[9][10]


Luna chose not to run for a third term in January 2014.[11]

2012 presidential election

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney named Luna to Romney's 19-member education policy advisory group.[12]

Luna was the only state superintendent to be chosen for the group.[13]


Luna was unopposed in the Republican primary.[14]

Luna defeated Stan Olsen, former superintendent of the Boise School District, with 60.5% of the vote.[15]


Luna defeated Steve Casey and Steve Smylie in the Republican primary getting 41.5% of the vote.[16]

Luna defeated former deputy of Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jana L. Jones with 51.3% of the vote.[17]



Luna is the owner of Scales Unlimited, an industrial truck scale company which he started in 1982.[1] He was later appointed to be President of The International Society of Weights and Measurement (ISWM) and as a voting member of National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP).[18]



Luna served on the Nampa School Board for seven years, three of those as chairman.[1]


In 2006, Luna was elected as Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction.[3] He was re-elected to a second term in 2010.[19] He was also appointed Commissioner of Idaho Achievement Standards Committee and Chairman of the Idaho Assessment and Accountability Committee.


From 2003 to 2005 Luna worked for the U.S. Department of Education as an adviser to then-U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige.[3][20] He served as Executive DIrector for the White House Initiative of Tribal Colleges and Universities and as the Director of the US Rural Education Task Force.[21]

While serving as Idaho State Superintendent, Luna was Named President-Elect of Chief State School Officers (2010) and was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) to help set policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).[22][23]


Luna is the Senior Vice President and Chief Government Relations Officer of Project Lead The Way.[24][25]

Idaho school reforms[edit]

As a member of the Nampa School Board from 1994 to 2002,[1] Luna supported school vouchers and tax credits for private schools as a means to increase competition in education.[26]

Running for the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Idaho position in 2006, Luna focused on promoting charter schools.[26] Columnist William McGurn stated that he found Luna's business experience and lack of education degree, "refreshing".[27]

Students Come First[edit]

The centerpiece of education reforms spearheaded by Luna following his 2006 election as Superintendent is a package of legislation known as Students Come First.[28] Among the reforms in the Students Come First package, passed by the Idaho Legislature in 2011, are:[28][29][30]

  • New limits to the collective bargaining rights of Idaho teachers
  • Raised the annual minimum pay for new teachers by $345
  • Established a performance-based merit pay system for teachers
  • Increase classroom sizes in grades 4 through 12
  • Phase out tenure, instead implementing one- and two-year rolling contracts for every new teacher and administrator, depending on experience
  • Requiring online course credit for high school graduation
  • Providing laptop computers for all high school teachers and high school students and classroom Wi-Fi

Luna's proposed reforms have been challenged though ballot initiatives.[29] Among the opponents is the Idaho Education Association, a state teachers union.[29][31] Petitions challenging the Students Come First legislation collected enough signatures to place the matter on the state's November 6, 2012, general election ballot.[29] There were three separate ballot propositions[29] because the reforms were passed with three legislative bills.[28] Voters rejected all three propositions on November 6, striking down the reforms.[32]

Personal life[edit]

Luna and his wife Cindy have six children and thirteen grandchildren.[3] Luna is a Latter-day Saint.[33]


  1. ^ a b c d Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2006 debate page, Idaho Public Television
  2. ^ "Executive Committee". Archived from the original on 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  3. ^ a b c d Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Idaho State Department of Education
  4. ^ "Take 2: Former Nampa School District Trustee Earns Degree, Right to Seek Office". 0F661F86776B199D. Boise, Idaho. The Idaho Statesman. March 30, 2002. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  5. ^ "Take 2: Former Nampa School District Trustee Earns Degree, Right to Seek Office". 0F661F86776B199D. Boise, Idaho. The Idaho Statesman. March 30, 2002. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  6. ^ Staff, KBOI News. "Former Superintendent of Public Instruction announces interest in congressional seat". KBOI. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  7. ^ Kruesi, Kimberlee (2017-06-07). "This just in: Tom Luna says he's NOT running for CD1 #idpol". @kkruesi. Retrieved 2017-06-07.
  8. ^ Kruesi, Kimberlee (2017-06-07). "FYI: Just got confirmation that Luna has no plans to run for any other political office in 2018 #idpol #idleg …". @kkruesi. Retrieved 2017-06-08. External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Luna won't run for Congress after all". Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  10. ^, IDAHO PRESS-TRIBUNE STAFF. "Tom Luna announces he won't run for Congress". Idaho Press-Tribune. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  11. ^ Press, Associated. "Idaho superintendent Tom Luna says he won't seek reelection". KBOI. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  12. ^ Press-Tribune, NATE GREEN © 2012 Idaho. "Mitt Romney taps Idaho superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna as education adviser". Idaho Press-Tribune. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  13. ^ "Luna named to Romney's new 19-member Ed Policy Advisory Group". Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  14. ^ "2010 Primary Results statewide". Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  15. ^ "2010 General Results statewide". Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  16. ^ "2006 Primary Results statewide". Archived from the original on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  17. ^ "2006 General Results statewide". Retrieved 2017-05-10.
  18. ^ "Two visions for Idaho public education". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  19. ^ "Idaho - Election Results 2010 - The New York Times". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  20. ^ "Idaho education firestorm sparks attempt at repeal" Archived 2013-01-27 at, Jessie L. Bonner, Associated Press, (reprinted by KBOI-TV), June 8, 2011
  21. ^ Richard, Alan (2005-02-02). "Federal Efforts Lacking, Rural Advocates Say - Education Week". Education Week. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  22. ^ Education_idaho (2010-12-27). "Idaho Education News: Superintendent Luna Named President-Elect of Chief State School Officers". Idaho Education News. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  23. ^ "Tom Luna Appointed as NAGB Member / NAGB". Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  24. ^ "PLTW | PLTW". PLTW. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  25. ^ "Tom Luna to take job with nonprofit". Idaho Education News. 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  26. ^ a b "Tom Luna's education reform plan was a long time in the making", Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman, February 20, 2011
  27. ^ "McGurn: Son of Scott Walker", William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2012
  28. ^ a b c Students Come First informational website & Students Come First Idaho State Department of Education website
  29. ^ a b c d e "Luna's Students Come First laws head for ballot showdown", Kristin Rodine, Idaho Statesman, August 26, 2012
  30. ^ "Idaho Votes to Phase Out Teacher Tenure, Restrict Collective Bargaining", Fox News, March 09, 2011
  31. ^ "Idaho Education Association". Who We Are. Idaho Education Association. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  32. ^ "Laptop and online mandates lose in all 44 counties.", Dan Popkey, The Idaho Statesman, November 7, 2012
  33. ^ "Transgender Woman Wins Idaho Primary". CNN iReport. Retrieved 2018-05-16.