BOISE -- For the first time today, the Idaho House is taking up education reform.

There was another big turn out of parents, teachers, and students who testified, along with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.

They testified before the House Education Committee.

The committee heard testimony on bills that concern merit pay and collective bargaining for teachers.

A majority of the people who testified are against the bills, but some came to support the legislation.

Some people arrived at the Capitol by 6 a.m. to make sure they would be able to testify.

Luna told the committee the Idaho education system is facing the third year of budget cuts and cannot continue on the same path. He says his plan will put students first and stop the cannibalization of their education.

He tried to clear up some misconceptions about the legislation.

Pay for performance is completely separate from the current salary system, won't lower base salary for teachers, said Luna.

The committee heard testimony from nearly two dozen people, with many more waiting to testify.

The bills do not put students first, I repeat, not put students first, said Dotty Douglas.

If it did put students first, educators would have been completely involved from the beginning, said Mary Gersema. The Meridian School District were my children attend, wages and benefits combined, they took a 2.8 percent reduction. My children took a 100 percent reduction in textbooks and school supplies.

The committee was supposed to meet until 11 a.m. By that time they had heard testimonies from 23 people, five of them were for the bills and 18 against. They still had 30 people who had signed up to testify, so they decided they would keep going.

The committee will hear more testimony Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the third bill in Luna's education reform plan is still in the Senate Education Committee. That is the bill that outlines paying for the plan and requires online learning.

The committee will meet at 3 p.m. to take up the bill.

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