As Ann Strosnider, reporter for the Kitsap Sun, said in her story Attorney says higher education needs citizen leadership, I told a luncheon gathering of Olympic College supporters Monday that higher education faces a crisis in Washington state, and the state Legislature refuses to show any leadership.

“The stakes are enormous,” the Bainbridge Island resident said, and that’s why it’s so important that citizens take matters into their own hands.

I spoke at the annual community luncheon, kicking off the campaign to raise funds for the Olympic College Foundation. The goal for the 2004-05 school year is to raise $150,000 for scholarships, programs and capital projects.

While the University of Washington and WSU are proud of the high grade-point averages of incoming freshmen, they are actually a barrier for many students.

“This year you had to have a 3.6 gpa to get into WSU or the UW,” he said. “If that had been the requirement when I went to WSU, I would not be standing here today. … College can’t be just for the rich and those with a 4.0.”

I’m a strong supporter of Initiative 884, which would raise state sales tax by 1 cent to create a $1 billion education trust fund for preschool, kindergarten through high school education and higher education. It would fund an additional 25,000 college and technical school enrollments and extend state Promise Scholarships to the top 30 percent of graduating high school classes.

“We’ve been pandered to for so long with the story that it’s better to keep our money for ourselves,” Marler told the gathering. “Now I have to ask, what are you doing to help? Will you show leadership?”