Key Common Core bill glides through Louisiana House _lowres

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- Republican State Rep. Brett Geymann, of Lake Charles and chief opponent of Common Core, casts his vote Wednesday in favor of his legislation to review the academic standards.

In a drastic change from previous debates, the Louisiana House voted 99-1 Wednesday for the key bill in a compromise aimed at trimming arguments over Common Core.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, after earlier reservations, also endorsed the accord that appears to be zooming through the Legislature even amid disputes about its impact.

The chief proposal, House Bill 373, would revamp the steps by which the standards are reviewed and would add likely volatile public hearings in each of the state’s six congressional districts.

“It lays out a clear, public process,” said Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, the sponsor of the measure.

“I think that is what was missing in the adoption of Common Core,” Geymann said after the vote.

The proposal next faces action in the Senate, and Geymann said he expects the issue to unfold there much as it did in the House — with little controversy.

Despite earlier concerns that the bills might face a veto, Jindal’s office said Wednesday the governor now backs the accord.

On Tuesday, officials of the state Department of Education announced 92 nominees, mostly educators, to fill four review panels to be named by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“We are supportive of this compromise now that the superintendent and BESE have listened to the concerns of parents, legislators and the administration about the makeup of the standards review commission,” Mike Reed, a spokesman for the governor, said in a prepared statement.

Common Core represents new standards in reading, writing and math. It is designed to improve student achievement and make students more competitive with their peers worldwide.

Jindal opposes Common Core and has made the issue a favorite talking point during his national travels while he weighs a bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

However, aides said earlier that Jindal was concerned that the review panels would be filled with Common Core backers and leave the standards mostly untouched.

State Superintendent of Education John White backs Common Core.

BESE has twice endorsed the new benchmarks.

Geymann’s legislation is the main piece of a three-bill package that is supposed to end 21 months of often inflammatory controversy.

Whether it will do that is unclear.

Barry Erwin, president of the pro-Common Core Council for a Better Louisiana, noted that while the guidelines are being reviewed, they will remain an integral part of public school classrooms statewide.

“This is not going backwards at all on Common Core,” Erwin said of the three bills.

“If anything, it is solidifying Common Core as our foundation standards, the standards that are our default standards now and for the future,” he said.

Geymann has said the public hearings are the chief feature of his bill because critics of the standards thought they were denied much chance for input when the benchmarks were crafted.

The bill would require BESE to finish revisions to Common Core by March 4, 2016, which is about nine months earlier than the state’s current review schedule.

It also makes the process subject to rules that ensure checks by the House and Senate education committees and future governors.

Moments before approving Geymann’s bill, the House voted 99-0 for a companion measure — House Bill 542 — that would change procedures for the 2015-16 Common Core tests.

That bill would limit questions on the exams that stem from the controversial Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which were used in March.

It now goes to the state Senate.

Earlier in the day, the House Education Committee approved the third proposal in the package — Senate Bill 43.

That measure says that, when changes in the standards are reviewed by legislative committees and future governors, they can only be accepted or rejected as a package.

It has passed the Senate and now moves to the full House.

Geymann’s bill was finished in less than 10 minutes.

It sparked only brief comments and produced a nearly all-green tally board — yes votes — in the House chamber.

“Rather non-evental, considering what it took to get here,” Geymann said later.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/ politicsblog/.