BOISE -- Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna will press lawmakers to allow school districts to hire superintendents without traditional academic backgrounds or experience.
The proposal is part of a plan to reform public education in Idaho, though the state Department of Education says it will be introduced to state lawmakers as a separate bill.
Luna unveiled the education reforms at the beginning of the 2011 Idaho Legislature in January, calling for the state to remove the requirement that school district superintendents have certification in addition to a bachelor's degree.
This will give local school boards the flexibility to hire the individual they deem the right person for the job, whether it's a former teacher, a CEO of a company, an individual with an MBA or another qualified candidate, Luna said.
The education reforms were introduced in the Idaho Senate on Thursday in the form of two bills, which total dozens of pages of legislation but do not include a push to remove the certification requirement for district superintendents. It will be introduced in a separate bill, said Luna spokeswoman Melissa McGrath.
Applicants will still be required to have a bachelor's degree and be at least 25 years old.
A similar proposal to relax hiring rules for superintendents has emerged in New York, after a media executive was picked to head the nation's largest public school system.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose former Hearst Magazines chairwoman Cathie Black to serve as chancellor over New York City schools amid outcry from many New Yorkers who opposed the appointment of a publishing executive with no background as an educator to head the school system.
The proposal will also likely draw criticism in Idaho.
I think any time you propose something that's new you're going to have people ask questions and some people may have concerns, McGrath said. But it's important for people to understand the decision will remain with the local school board on who they hire.
Idaho school districts are limited under current hiring rules and in rural areas, sometimes only one person applies for the superintendent's job, McGrath said.
If the local school board believes the best candidate is someone with an education background, they can still hire that person, McGrath said. This gives them the flexibility to hire someone with a different skill set if they believe it's necessary. '
The head of Idaho's public school system comes from a nontraditional background himself.
Luna was the president of an industrial truck scale company in Nampa when he defeated Democrat Jana Jones in the November 2006 election. He received his college degree online and has defended his lack of traditional college by saying: A pilot does not run United Airlines.
Luna defeated Democrat Stan Olson, who has a doctorate in education, to win a second four-year term during the November 2010 election.