Idaho's Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Luna, seemed to run for the office last year as a "shake-'em-up" advocate of a hard-core No Child Left Behind testing regime - he was, after all, a public face of the Bush Administration's NCLB effort. Implicit was the idea that he would be a big-time budget-slasher.
None of which seems to have materialized. Educators around the state liked more than they disliked about Luna's first budget proposals this year. He seems to have been traveling the state and making more friends than critics.
And then we see this, yesterday, in the Twin Falls Times News editorial:
Mr. No Child Left Behind saying that Idaho's schools might be giving too many tests? That's news.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, whose previous job was working on the federal No Child Left Behind Act at the U.S. Department of Education, made that observation to the Times-News editorial board last week when talking about the future of Idaho's classrooms.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which was designed to make schools more accountable, has transformed public education in America. Schools now pay much more attention to preparing students to pass standardized tests, such as the Idaho Standards Achievement Test.
Critics argue that "teaching to the test" is no way to educate kids. NCLB forces teachers to focus on a limited subset of skills to boost test performance rather than concentrating on deeper understanding of the material, they say.
It's a fair argument, and although Luna is still a supporter of NCLB, it's significant that he's willing to at least consider tweaking the system to make it more responsive.
We've been a consistent critic of overtesting and teaching to the test - just the sort of criticisms noted here. That Luna seems to be coming around on the idea is, as suggested, news.