Friday, June 6, was my last official day as the Director of Assessment and Accountability for the State Department of Education in Idaho. Over the past 18 months, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of wonderful and dedicated educators across the Gem State. I have learned much from their experience and expertise, and my understanding of public K-12 education has evolved dramatically. I have gained a deep respect for the challenges and complexities of this grand enterprise. Most especially, I have a gained an abiding admiration for those who have devoted their lives to teaching and guiding our children, despite these challenges and complexities.
You may notice that this is my first blog post since beginning work at the Department. As an aide to an elected official, and because it has been my responsibility to oversee some of the hottest current political issues in Idaho education, I made the decision not to opine publicly via this blog. Out of respect for my former colleagues at the Department (most especially the wonderful PR staff), I will refrain from commenting on anything specific related to my work there – though all are free to browse through pages and pages of my public communication to schools throughout the state.
The only thing I will say about my time at the Department is this: I thoroughly enjoyed working with and learning from Superintendent Tom Luna. I did not know Superintendent Luna before I came to Idaho last year, but I am glad I got to know him. He has been an example of kindness, integrity, humor, and leadership to me. And while there are still many throughout the state who bristle at even the mention of his name, I predict that he will eventually be recognized as one of the most successful and forward thinking educational leaders Idaho has ever seen. I’ll be candid that I do not agree with Superintendent Luna on every philosophical point. I knew that would be the case coming in. But I have discovered that that’s exactly what makes him such an effective leader: He is willing to allow even those who disagree with him to have a meaningful seat at the table. Many of the reforms he has led, including the Common Core State Standards, more fair school accountability, increased transparency in government, and expanded use of educational technology, will have lasting positive impacts on Idaho’s students and Idaho’s economy. The people of Idaho, whether they recognize it or not, have been lucky to have Superintendent Tom Luna leading the state’s public education system for the past 8 years.
As my family and I head off on new adventure, I will always be grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to rub shoulders with some of the greatest people on earth.
Way to go, Idaho!