Vashon Island’s Experiment in School
Construction + STEM Learning
The Vashon Island School District faced two seemingly unrelated challenges shared by many school systems across Washington: it needed to replace its aging and dilapidated high school building, and too many of its students were struggling in math. So the district decided to tackle the problems in tandem. Read more in our latest STEM in Action story.
2014 Legislative Session Recap
Washington STEM and leaders from our regional networks worked hard throughout the Legislature’s session to educate lawmakers about the importance of investing in STEM. With the close of the 2014 legislative session last week, here is a quick recap of the STEM issues that were at play:
24-Credit High School Diploma
During the final days of session, ESSB 6652 passed by votes of 93-5 in the House and 45-2 in the Senate, authorizing a new 24-credit high school diploma. We are particularly excited about the addition of a third credit of science, which will help ensure that our students graduate ready for college and careers. The bill also allows students to more consistently earn math or science credit for Career & Tech Education (CTE) classes. Governor Inslee is expected to take action.
We are excited that the state provided funding for Washington MESA, one of our inaugural funded partners, and its Community College Program on six community college campuses across the state. MESA provides under-represented students with academic and transfer-support services to help them excel and ultimately attain two- and four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields. Originally funded by the National Science Foundation, the program started in California and has been successfully replicated in over a dozen states.
Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance
The Governor’s supplemental budget priorities and the Senate’s operating budget included critical funding for the work of the Governor’s STEM Education Innovation Alliance: helping teachers implement new math and science standards, exposing kids to STEM jobs through internships, and supporting the growing number of regional STEM Networks organizing around the state. Ultimately, the funding was not included in the state’s final budget. Recognizing this work takes time, we are pleased with the progress made and the support received from legislative champions.
K-12 STEM Capital Grants program
Recognizing the need to help schools design and build cutting edge classrooms that support high-quality STEM education, the Senate proposed the creation of a new K-12 STEM capital grants program with $50M in start-up funding. For the first time since 1996, the legislature did not pass a capital budget. As a result, this program was not created nor funded. There is significant momentum around this issue in Olympia and districts across the state. We were honored that key members of the Senate asked Washington STEM to play a role in this important work.
Washington STEM in the News
Washington STEM, along with several key partners, placed numerous op-eds and secured editorial board coverage regarding STEM issues during this legislative session in several prominent newspapers, including The Seattle Times, the Puget Sound Business Journal, The Olympian, the Bellingham Herald, Crosscut, and The Tri-Cities Herald. Read our news here.