One of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s signature public school bills moved within one step of final approval Thursday afternoon when a state Senate panel approved it.

The measure, House Bill 974, would make it harder for public school teachers to earn and keep a form of job protection called tenure.

It was approved by the Senate Education Committee without objection and next faces action on the Senate floor.

The bill was endorsed by the Louisiana House last week.

During committee debate no amendments were added to the bill.

If the full Senate approves the unamended measure without any changes, the measure would go to Jindal for his signature into law.

Any changes would require the proposal to return to the House, which backed the plan 64-40.

Under the bill, current teachers who are rated as ineffective would lose their tenure and could face dismissal proceedings.

New teachers would have to be rated as highly effective – in the top 10 percent statewide – for five out of six years to earn tenure.

Jindal and other backers contend the changes are needed to ensure top-flight teachers in every classroom.

“I am asking you to do what is right for children,” said state Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge and sponsor of the bill in his closing comments to the committee.

Opponents say that, while the state’s tenure laws may need tweaking, wholesale changes make no sense now.

“No other state, not one, is going down this path,” said Michael Walker-Jones, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators, a teachers’ union that opposes the bill.

When the Senate will debate the bill is unclear.

The committee is now debating the governor’s other key public school bill.

It would expand eligibility for some students to move from struggling public schools to private and parochial schools using state dollars.