After a new round of fiery testimony, the state’s top school board late Thursday night endorsed revisions to the Common Core academic standards.
The changes cleared the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education with only one dissenting vote.
The dissenting vote was cast by Kathy Edmonston, of Gonzales, a longtime critic of the overhaul.
A final vote by the full board on what was technically a committee tally Thursday is set for Friday. However, all 11 BESE members were on hand when the debate began, and final approval is all but certain.
The revisions were recommended by a 26-member panel called the Standards Review Committee, mostly educators, after six months of study.
That panel was created by state lawmakers last year in a bid to end years of arguments over the standards after fights in the Legislature, state and federal courts and BESE.
However, as they often do, the revamped benchmarks in reading, writing and math triggered more bickering.
Alesia Blanchard, a nationally certified teacher and mother of three boys who served on one of the subcommittees, praised the process.
“We had very robust conversations,” Blanchard said. “I would say passionate conversations. We took it very seriously. And I am very proud of the product we put out.”
Critics of the proposed changes called them a rebranding of the current benchmarks. They also labeled the review a charade and claimed opponents were crippled in their ability to register complaints.
Leslie Truax, a teacher in Calcasieu Parish, quoted from a statement by a review committee member who resigned because she said “there was not a lot of give and take” when the standards were studied.
Truax also said BESE members last year campaigned with pledges to craft Louisiana standards to replace Common Core.
“We were lied to,” she said.
All the arguments took place at the end of a marathon day of BESE debates, including more than three hours of arguments on how state school aid is spent in New Orleans.
The Common Core discussion began at 7 p.m., six hours after the committee that included the issue was supposed to start.
State Superintendent of Education John White, a Common Core backer, said state law requires the board to approve the changes by Friday. However, he said those revisions are then subject to public comment and could spark public hearings. Legislative committees could also hold hearings in May or June.
Gov. John Bel Edwards also has the authority to endorse or veto the changes.
Any rejection would return the issue to BESE, while the current academic goals remain in public school classrooms statewide.
Edwards, a Common Core critic, has said any revisions need to be substantive.
An aide to the governor said Tuesday that Edwards has not made any decisions on the recommended changes.
The Standards Review Committee suggested changing about 20 percent of the 1,287 math and English standards.
Leaders said the new guidelines would give teachers more latitude and be more age appropriate.
The largest percentage of alterations — 28 percent — focused on math standards for students in grades three through 12.
Stephanie Desselle, who follows public school issues for the Council for a Better Louisiana, praised the changes.
“The upshot is we believe the standards remain strong for Louisiana students,” Desselle said. “They will help prepare students for college and careers.”
Leaders of the Louisiana Association of Principals and the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents said they have concerns on how and when any changes are implemented.
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