Closing remarks: Luna makes pitch for tiered licensure

There were a few moments of reflection, and a recap of the past eight years.

But when state superintendent Tom Luna made his final major speech to school administrators Thursday morning, he used the occasion to push for a controversial shift to tiered teacher licensure.

Tom Luna, Meridian, 10.1.13
Tom Luna

If Luna could wield a magic wand, he said, the one change he would make would be to establish a tiered licensure system — assessing teachers and moving teachers through the salary schedule based on evaluations and student growth.

“It would elevate the teaching career to a true profession,” Luna said during the Idaho School Boards Association’s annual convention in Boise.

The tiered licensure plan has drawn its most heated opposition from teachers themselves. They object to a system that would base licensing on local evaluations and standardized tests. They believe education, and advanced degrees, should be part of the licensing and salary equation. And they question whether the Legislature will actually come up with the $175 million needed to fund the salary ladder that would be attached to tiered licensure.

The State Board of Education is looking at several possible changes to the tiered licensure plan — and board members are expected to discuss them when they meet Thursday afternoon.

Outgoing ISBA board president Anne Ritter expects the tiered licensure plan to get a makeover. After Luna made his remarks, the West Ada School District trustee told colleagues that she expects the board to smooth over “rough edges” in the proposal.

Luna, a State Board member, did not address possible changes in wording — and spoke instead about the need to change the fundamental process of licensing and evaluating educators. He said the future will demand more of everyone in the education system, from teachers to trustees to administrators, “and rightfully so.”

“The world is demanding more and more from our kids,” Luna said.