April 15, 2019
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Boeing and Washington STEM celebrate signing day at the Capitol for students committed to STEM



Athletic signing ceremonies are often big news -- so why not similar energy and excitement for high school students who commit to high-paying, rewarding careers in technology and engineering?

That was the logic behind the second-annual STEM Signing Day in Olympia on Friday, as one student from each of Washington's 49 legislative districts attended a lavish ceremony in the basement of the state Capitol to officially commit to academic studies and a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Supporting these incredible students, and events like Washington STEM Signing Day that celebrate their success, is part of Boeing’s ongoing commitment to the communities where our employees live and work,” said Bill McSherry, vice president of Government Operations at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “By investing in these future leaders, we are helping to create a promising future that serves us all.”

Executives from Boeing joined representatives from Washington STEM and the Washington Opportunity Scholarship (which Boeing, Microsoft and other Washington firms help support) to greet the students and congratulate them on making a smart choice.

Monish Naidu, who received a Washington Opportunity Scholarship and is now pursuing his master's degree in computer science, spoke to the group.

"You've made an excellent decision for your future," Naidu said. "Washington needs you. Armed with your high-tech degree, employers can't wait to hire you."

The idea of the day is to "recognize, celebrate, and lift-up" high school seniors who are interested in pursuing a degree or career in STEM, organizers said.

Students signed "letters of intent” to their chosen STEM field.

One of those was Maleeha Nizar, a high school senior who is also a full-time Running Start student at Green River Community College. She plans to attend the University of Washington-Tacoma to study biomedical sciences, with the ultimate goal of becoming a general physician or psychiatrist. She said that signing the non-binding letter of intent to pursue STEM would be a permanent reminder to her to remain faithful to her goals, even when times get tough.

"You sign it and you stick with it," she said.

See some of the excitement from the day's ceremony on Twitter at #STEMsigningday.



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Spring Meeting
State Funding


Lifting levy lid violates spirit of McCleary deal

By The Columbian Editorial Board

Efforts in the Legislature to remove a lid on local school levies represent a step backward for school funding in Washington. Rather than invite a return to inequitable funding and open the door for lawsuits, lawmakers should provide state funding where necessary and adhere to a hard-fought agreement.

Following the 2012 state Supreme Court ruling in McCleary v. Washington, lawmakers took five years to hammer out a compromise in which the state would fully fund public K-12 education. That compromise limited local levies to $1.50 per $1,000 in assessed property value or $1,500 per student, whichever is less.

That was the promise lawmakers gave to taxpayers in 2017 -- state property taxes would increase in order for the Legislature to live up to its "paramount duty" of funding basic education. In exchange, local levies would decrease. The adjustments would prevent inequalities between districts that were at the heart of the McCleary decision; local levies had been used to fund basic expenses such as teacher salaries, creating disparities between wealthy districts and poor districts.

Now, school districts want the Legislature to keep both state and local property taxes high. Senate Bill 5313 would allow districts to tax up to $2.50 per $1,000 in assessed value -- a 67 percent increase from the current law -- or $2,500 per student, depending on a district's enrollment.

Passage of such a plan would put the state on the road to McCleary 2.0. It would invite the return of an unfair funding system that triggered the lawsuit in the first place and that had the amenities of a public education determined by a student's ZIP code.

Read the full editorial in The Columbian
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