Last week, Washington STEM staff traveled to Olympia to meet with legislators to advocate for STEM education issues. We were joined by our regional STEM networks and partners to promote key opportunities to support STEM education for Washington students during this short legislative session. Together, we connected 65 attendees with legislators and held over 70 meetings.
Prior to our visit, the Washington State Legislature passed the capital budget that provided support for dozens of crucial K-12 and post-secondary STEM-related projects. This funding will allow schools and educational institutions across the state to modernize their classrooms and purchase equipment to increase their capacity and capability to team STEM education. We started many of our meetings by thanking the senators and representatives for passing this important funding.
While our conversations varied based on the specific needs of each region, as a group we focused on policies and programs that will allow more Washington students to discover pathways to high-demand careers. This includes increasing access to youth apprenticeships and fixing the full time equivalent (FTE) calculations and increasing funding to Career Technical Education (CTE), as well as generally supporting STEM education. The skills and exposure gained through a solid STEM education will help students excel in the unknown jobs of tomorrow.
Other priorities included:
– Updating the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship eligibility to include students in healthcare programs and technical degree and certificate programs. This would allow a large base of students to pursue a STEM education through the financial and mentoring support of the program.
– Supporting Washington MESA’s First Nations MESA program serving Native American students.
We are looking forward to seeing the results of the session and hope to see positive results for our priorities.
Want to help? Have questions? Contact Jesse Gilliam at firstname.lastname@example.org.