By Brian Murphy
Several hundred teachers and supporters formed a ring around the Idaho Capitol on Wednesday afternoon to protest school superintendent Tom Luna's eduction reforms. Idaho lawmakers have passed two bills that are part of Luna's "Students Come First" package — one that reforms labor contracts and another that implements a pay-for-performance bonus plan for teachers.
The bills are headed to Gov. Butch Otter's desk for his signature.
Protesters wore red scarves, many over their mouths, to signify having their voices silenced by lawmakers. There was music playing and the crowded chanted refrains of "Respect. Fairness. Voices."
Several hundred protesters were at the statehouse, many carrying signs with their message of respect for teachers and against Luna. "Recall Luna. Idaho can do better," one sign read.
The protesters plan a rally at Capitol Park at 5:30 p.m.
At the rally, Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, urged the protesters to "stand by us and we'll stand by you."
"I thank you for your dedication to the world's most important profession," Cronin said.
When Cronin ended his remarks, the crowd chanted "Cronin for Governor."
Maria Greeley, a parent and organizer, said she is tired after two months of fighting.
"I'm tired of being told labeled as misinformed or misguided by the teachers' union," Greeley told the crowd. "... (Luna's plan) in no way benefits our students."
"In two years from now and four years from now, we will remember," she said. The crowd then chanted "We will remember. We will remember."