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Would you like cheese with that,Mr. Boeing employee?

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Published on Wed, Feb 28, 2007
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Would you like cheese with that,
Mr. Boeing employee?

Somewhere among Lake Stevens High School’s nearly 2,300 students there’s a student with a 3.8 GPA and a 1200 SAT score who will not be accepted to the University of Washington.

Meanwhile, at the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, there are more than a couple sophomores with A minus averages getting turned down for slots in the U-dub’s engineering school.

Over at Boeing, company executives are telling anyone in Olympia who will listen that they are tired of importing 90 percent of their high-level degree holding employees from outside of Washington.

What does this mean? It means that our school system, top to bottom in Washington state is turning out college graduates who are only qualified to pack lunches for the engineers at Boeing or the programmers at Microsoft.

It’s not for a lack of effort, ability or smarts in our potential students – it’s a variety of problems. But first and foremost the time has come to address the opportunity angle by bringing a world-class, four-year stand-alone polytechnic university to Snohomish County.

Senator Jean Berkey (D-Everett) has authored a bill that will do just that. Senate Bill 5322 calls for the expedited creation of a four year independent university in the greater North Snohomish County region. The bill is supported by Senator Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, and the Chairs of the Senate Transportation and Higher Education committees.

The plan does not have uniform support. Community colleges are against it. The University of Washington is against it. They don’t want to fight for table scraps with another educational mouth to feed. But their interests don’t reflect what is best for Lake Stevens, Snohomish or any other growing community – their interests only reflect the desire to keep their budgets fat.

Washington is a dynamic state – so dynamic, in fact that we’re practically our own nation, as Governor Gregoire mentioned in her State of the State speech. With industry giants like Microsoft, Boeing and Costco coupled with unprecedented natural resources and unique trade ties to the Far East, Washington is a world class economic power.

It’s unfortunate that the minds required to feed this economic power are being developed elsewhere.

It’s time to aim high, while we have the chance and build a university worthy of our state’s status.

If King County can give the Seahawks, Mariners and possibly the Sonics world-class sports venues, why can’t Snohomish County build a world class university modeled after M.I.T, Cal Tech or Oxford. Studies show that for the price of one of the aforementioned sporting venues, the school could be a reality.

The time is now, and the outcome is in our hands. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t want to aim high, who are ready to accept the status quo. There are those who want to add on to community colleges and build more UW-Bothell’s. These are the same people who are tied to the UW and community college lobbies and interests. The fact of the matter is that the price tag on a new independent university and a new two year branch is virtually the same – but the impact is worlds apart.

The impact will be felt back on campus at Lake Stevens High School, where that 3.8 student we talked about earlier is going to be a little more motivated to earn a spot in the M.I.T of the west and a high ranking job at Microsoft than they are to take a commuter slot to ECC with the hopes of eventually making it the UW-Bothell campus.

The next generation deserves better. Let’s take action. Write your representatives, senators, city councils and newspapers and let everyone know it’s time for a world-class independent university in Snohomish County.

Kevin Hulten is the former Managing Editor of the Lake Stevens Journal. Send feedback or ideas to

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