|Former candidate for|
|Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 4, 2014|
|Chief Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction|
|High school||Skyline High School|
|Bachelor's||Utah State University|
|Master's||Idaho State University|
|Place of birth||Bonneville County, Idaho|
Jones is a fourth generation Idahoan, raised in Bonneville County. She graduated from Skyline High School and went on to earn her bachelor's degree and master's degree in special education from Utah State University and Idaho State University, respectively.
Jones launched her career as an educator when she took a job teaching at Idaho Falls School District 91, a school she herself had attended as a child.
Jones served as chief deputy under former Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Marilyn Howard, who was succeeded by Tom Luna in January 2007. After Howard left office, Jones moved on to a different role within the field. She was hired by a national consulting firm to be vice president of an educational services practice called MAXIMUS.
- Graduate, Skyline High School
- Bachelor degree, special education, Utah State University
- Master's degree, special education, Idaho State University
Jones ran for election to the office of Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction. Jones was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the primary on May 20, 2014. The general election took place November 4, 2014.
Jones's campaign website listed the following themes for the 2014 race:
Transparency and Accountability
The current administration has created a huge trust deficit with our educational leadership. So many parents have felt left out of the process and that their children are just victims of the system. Jana wants Idahoans to start feeling good about their schools again. Restoring that kind of hope and optimist will require firm leadership, but most of all, leadership you can trust.
One of the main ways we will get to the kind of education system we want for all kids is to get everyone to the table. To that end, Jana’s administration will include a permanent, statewide, non-partisan coalition of individuals who have a vested interest in public education in Idaho. This group will include parents, educators, business leaders, and elected officials—all coming together on a regular basis to take the best ideas for education improvements and build support for them before making major policy decisions or going to the Legislature.
Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education
The Governor’s Task Force has submitted a wide-ranging series of recommendations to improve education in Idaho. The task force membership represented a broad array of educational stakeholders who worked in public meetings to reach their conclusions. The members deserve our thanks and this appears to be a good process for decision-making and building support to move education issues forward—one Jana will use.
As of now, the recommendations remain just that: recommendations. Some will require legislative action; some will take time to implement; and all will require strong leadership at the state level. Jana’s experience and reputation as a collaborative education leader who brings people together to get things done will be critical as the recommendations move forward.
Investing in our Schools
Some people like to say that money doesn’t buy a good education, and that’s true, but what money does buy are the things that make a good education: highly qualified teachers, modern, up-to-date classrooms, smaller class sizes, and so on.
Like most Idahoans, Jana believes that budget cuts have negatively affected the quality of our children’s education. Vital programs have been cut, Idaho is having difficulty attracting and retaining the best and brightest teachers, classrooms are over-crowded, over 40 districts have moved to four-day school weeks, and voters in over 90 school districts have had to increase local property tax increases just to keep the lights on in their schools.
The reality is that the Superintendent of Public Instruction can only request funding. The decision on how much funding is approved is made by the Idaho Legislature. The Legislature also decides what strings to attach to that funding, and the tension between legislative directives and local control has increased in recent years.
Part of Jana’s proposed coalition’s charge will be to study educational funding so that Idaho can finally get its arms around what our state constitutional mandate to provide a “uniform and thorough” public education system means from a funding perspective. When we can quantifiably define what it means, we can start holding our public officials accountable to their constitutional oath.
Idaho Core Standards
Despite some concerns regarding the process for adoption and the implementation, Jana supports the Idaho Core Standards. And she is not alone: Common Core is also supported by the Idaho education community, the Governor, the State Board of Education, the Legislature, Idaho Businesses for Education, the Idaho Education Association, and many others. Also, to date, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, which grew out of a joint effort led by state governors and chief state school officers. Adoption of these K-12 standards in mathematics and English language arts is voluntary at the state level, but clearly there is support for a set of uniform expectations that apply to students wherever they live and study.
The standards themselves are broad goal statements about what we want students to know in language arts and math at the end of each grade. An example of a language arts goal for first graders is, “Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print” by recognizing “the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g. first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).” How goals are reached—that is, which textbooks are used, how curriculum is organized, what classroom techniques teachers use—are decisions made at the school district and classroom levels.
Now that they have been rolled out, there appear to be some issues with the Idaho Core Standards. For example, there appears to be some gaps in some of the goals from grade to grade. Consequently, Jana is committed to bringing together a group of Idaho educators in the summer of 2015 to address the issues with the Core Standards. Additionally, Jana wants to see the resources committed so Idaho’s teachers have the professional development and the tools to use the Core Standards effectively.
At their best, the Idaho Core Standards ensure that when Idaho students graduate from high school, they will be competitive at the state and national levels and be able to create the futures of their choice.
As Superintendent, Jana will continue the Idaho Core Standards implementation process with as much public information and involvement as possible. Every question about the Idaho Core Standards deserves a full response; every criticism leads all of us—parents, teachers, legislators, and others—to a fuller understanding of the advantages of Idaho Core Standards adoption.
Everyone who has ever been to school knows that tests are a part of the process. At the classroom level, we test to find out whether students understood what was taught (and, just as important, teachers can check whether they did a good job of teaching the information). District-level tests show us which schools are excelling and which need help. National tests allow a state to compare the performance of its students with peers in other states. At every level, tests provide information about whether students are progressing as they should.
Whether to test is not the issue. What’s important is the balance between testing and teaching. No one wants Idaho’s students to be over-tested and under-taught. We need to restore the fundamental relationship between teachers and students where we let teachers teach and students learn.
College and Career Readiness
There is no denying the knowledge gap between what some of Idaho’s high school graduates know and are able to do, and the expectations of higher education institutions or the job market. Idaho’s businesses, colleges, and universities tell us they spend far too much time and money on remediation.
Implementing the Idaho Core Standards, with its emphasis on literacy and higher-order thinking, will go a long way toward addressing this discrepancy. Idaho Core expectations are rigorous and challenging; students are expected both to acquire knowledge and to apply it.
At a technical level, Idaho has an advantage. The State Board of Education is responsible for oversight of all levels of education, meaning that it can ensure that high school graduation requirements mesh with higher education entrance requirements.
But beyond that, we need to have stronger on-going partnerships among public schools, businesses, and higher education institutions so there is clarity about what is expected of high school graduates regardless of their post-school plans.
Early Childhood Education
Jana is well known as a strong proponent of early childhood education. In fact, pre-K and special education are her areas of specialty, and at one time in her life she owned and operated a private early childhood education schools in eastern Idaho.
Early childhood education has detractors. Some argue that children so young should be at home with their parents, and that early education is a parental responsibility. In a perfect world that would be true; parents are our first and best teachers. Unfortunately, not all children have that advantage. That is why there needs to be another option.
Other critics say that any improvements made through early childhood education wash out by the time a child reaches the third grade. Actually, that’s good news: without that early help, many of those children would reach the third grade behind their peers. Early childhood education is intended to make sure all children reach that starting point on equal footing.
More and more, increasingly sophisticated brain research makes it clear that most of a child’s brain development occurs before kindergarten. We can’t afford to waste that time. The earlier we can work with youngsters, the better their chances for long-term success in school and life.
Idaho has a wide variety of choices within the public school system: traditional schools, magnet schools, alternative schools, evening schools, on-line schools, and charter schools. Those choices need to be promoted in order to set every student up for success in their ideal learning environment.
When the Idaho Legislature first authorized charter schools, one of the goals was to “include the use of different and innovative teaching methods.” Charter schools can serve as learning labs where, with support of parents, new instructional methods can be tested and evaluated.
There’s a reason today’s students are often called digital natives. Most of them are already technologically proficient. For educators, the term technology is really a shorthand for developing higher-level thinking skills so that today’s students can use acquired knowledge in conjunction with the vast information they have at their fingertips to solve problems, answer questions, or create something.
Of increasing concern is the gap between technology haves and have-nots. Local school districts have the capacity to measure that gap and fill it in a meaningful and efficient way. That’s why it’s important for districts get back the flexibility to manage operating funds in a way that meets unique local needs, including bridging the technology gap.
Schools are responsible for preparing students with the skills they need to learn, to be critical thinkers, and to be problem-solvers. If schools do a good job of that, Idaho’s students will be able to adapt to living in the ever-changing high-tech world, whatever it looks like.
School safety needs to be a top priority—for our children, for their families, and for the teachers and staff in each building.
Schools and districts have worked hard to put school safety measures in place, including lockdown drills that are used whenever there is a threat. I support some of the recommendations of the School Safety and Security stakeholder group, but we need to make sure districts have the support and resources necessary to implement them. 
—Jana Jones's campaign website, (2014), 
Jones resides in Idaho Falls with her husband, Ross. She and Ross have adult daughters together as well as three grandchildren.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Jana + Jones + Idaho + Superintendent"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- The Idaho Statesman, "Jana Jones will challenge Luna," January 8, 2014
- Jana Jones for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed January 29, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Jana Jones for Idaho, "Issues," accessed October 30, 2014
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