NEW YORK -- Hundreds of teachers, politicians and students are in New York this week debating education and trying to figure out how we can improve the way students learn. It is all part of Education Nation, a weeklong event organized by NBC News.

A familiar face from Idaho is taking part in the education discussions. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is in New York.

In the past six months, there have been a lot of changes to education with the passage of the Students Come First laws. Not everyone has been happy about the laws and the changes they bring because they feel the laws discourage teachers and are concerned computers are not the way to teach kids. But Luna says those changes are setting Idaho up to be a leader in education.

Standardized tests, teacher pay, school budgets, if it has to do with education it will be discussed at Education Nation. One topic getting a lot of buzz is reform in Idaho classrooms.

Luna says other states are talking about creating their own pay-for-performance system and adding more technology to their schools, something Idaho is already doing under the Students Come First plan. But Luna says our state still faces a big challenge.

Idaho has one of the highest graduation rates in the country with 91 out of every 100 children graduating from high school but only 47 percent of them go onto post-secondary education and 38 percent of them drop out of their freshman year of college, said Luna.

Luna wants those post-secondary education numbers up but says it's less about the numbers and more about students being prepared.

Our goal in education shouldn't be to have students that are successful in school. We want them to be successful outside of school in the real world that they will live in, said Luna.

At Education Nation there will be countless debates on how to make our students successful. Underlying those debates is a universal desire to have them compete on a global stage. Luna admits the U.S. is falling behind. Right now, U.S. students rank 25th in math among 35 developed countries, and 17th in science.

We are not keeping up with the fast pace change of the world and if our children are going to compete in the world marketplace our education systems need to reform, said Luna.

Idaho's reform has already started. During Education Nation, Luna will once again become the student, taking in as much as he can and possibly bring back new ideas to Idaho classrooms.

Read or Share this story: