Trying to end nearly two years of bitter disputes, the Louisiana Senate on Friday gave final approval to a bill that is the key measure in a Common Core compromise.
The legislation, House Bill 373, cleared the Senate 38-0 without debate or questions.
The bill earlier breezed through the House, and both votes reflected dramatic changes in how the issue unfolded during the 2015 Legislature compared to last year.
The proposal now goes to Gov. Bobby Jindal, a former Common Core backer turned opponent who supports the legislation.
“It is an incredible compromise,” said state Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, who handled the measure on the Senate floor.
Repeated efforts to scrap the standards and the tests that go with them failed during the 2014 session amid fierce arguments and lengthy hearings.
After the session, arguments spilled over into the courts.
It also sparked repeated controversy at the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and pitted Jindal against his hand-picked state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs Common Core.
But in May, the two sides struck an agreement that involved three bills, including HB373.
The key feature of the plan is the requirement that state officials hold public hearings in all six congressional districts during a monthslong review of Common Core by a special panel of educators.
Critics have long complained that the new benchmarks in reading, writing and math lacked critical input from rank-and-file taxpayers.
The bill also would require that, after BESE recommends any changes in Common Core, the modifications would be reviewed by the House and Senate Education committees and future governors.
It also directs the state school board to finish any revisions to the standards by March 4, 2016, which is about nine months earlier than the state’s current review schedule.
The legislative panels and the governor could reject any alterations but can only do so as a package and not single out individual changes.
Critics of the standards contend the bills will pave the way for the abolition of Common Core.
Backers of the academic goals predict the review will produce tweaks to the standards, not wholesale changes.
State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, chief sponsor of the bill and a longtime critic of the standards, said moments after the vote that he was pleased the measure is headed to the governor.
“It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work by many people,” Geymann said in a text message.
The two other bills in the agreement are nearing final approval.
One of the measures, House Bill 542, would change procedures for the 2015-16 Common Core exams.
It won final Senate approval 39-0 on Friday and returns to the House for consideration of minor changes.
The other proposal is Senate Bill 43, which makes clear that legislative committees and future governors have to accept or reject BESE-approved changes in Common Core as a package.
It won approval in the House on Thursday.
The vote was 89-0.
The bill, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, now returns to the Senate for review of minor, House-approved changes.