BOISE – Close to a thousand teachers, students, parents and concerned citizens circled the Idaho Capitol in Boise in a human chain to protest education reforms now progressing to Gov. Otter's desk for signing.
Similar protests were held across the state. Those who participated in the rallies wore red gags, that they say symbolized the fact that their opinions and voices were not heard by lawmakers.
“I just feel that it's our right as American citizens to have our voices be heard and I feel with this legislation we weren't allowed to sit at the table," said Yoli Gonzales, a Boise area teacher.
Some lawmakers spoke to the crowd, saying their voices did fall on deaf ears.
“I'm here to tell you, that despite reports to the contrary, there are folks in this building who respect, appreciate and listen to you -- I am one of them and there are many more," said Representative Brian Cronin (D-Boise).
Earlier Wednesday, the Republican-dominated House passed a pay-for-performance plan for teachers that is opposed by the Idaho Education Association teacher's union. This comes after Tuesday's passage of a bill to eliminate tenure and restrict teachers' collective bargaining rights.
Although there were many in opposition to the passage of the two bills, Governor Butch Otter said he believes the education reform was the best option for the state.
“I appreciate the angst, all the debate the hearing, everyone's efforts to make sure that we've given every chance to everybody who wanted to speak on these bills -- and of course they're not going to make everyone happy, but we had three options and this was the option we chose, to reform education,” said Governor Otter.
Another key piece of Tom Luna's education reform, Senate Bill 1113, which would add online classes and technology to Idaho's education remains in a Senate committee undergoing revisions.