We've been pretty focused on the education reform bill this session, so we should certainly mention that it passed both the House and Senate last night and is now on its way to the governor's desk.

There was a lot of noise about the bill, both because education reform—or upgrading the quality of teachers, really—has turned into a cover story issue this year (e.g., the latest New York Times Magazine and Newsweek). The bill has also been getting attention because there was a skirmish between reformers and the teachers union over a few amendments that would have mandated stricter teacher evaluations—and better positioned Washington state for President Obama's Race to the Top money. Those amendments failed in the Democrat-controlled legislature, which refused to buck the union. However, Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36)—a dedicated ed reformer—did pass an amendment that would make it easier to remove bad principals, lowering the legal standard  for firing principals from the tough "probable cause" to the more sane "valid reason."

And then last week, the Senate objected to a House proposal from Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-47) that merged last year's reform bill (which expanded the definition of basic education) with this year's by calling for $1 billion in K-12 funding as a practical step toward meeting the new mandate on basic ed.

The Senate and House reached a compromise yesterday, agreeing that the funding would be phased in. They didn't, however, identify a funding source.