Washington looks for better ways to fund higher education, the Seahawks claim the NFC West title and a playoff berth, and Mercer Island High's band prances through London's New Year's parade.
At 7-9, Seahawks Make Playoffs
With a 16-6 win over St. Louis at Qwest Field Sunday night, the Seattle Seahawks become the first team in NFL history to make the playoffs with a losing record, not counting the strike-shortened 1982 season.
The Seahawks had lost seven of their previous nine games going into the contest for the NFC West championship. That statistic (and a few others) have the New York Times' 538 blogger Nate Silver proclaiming the team as the "worst ever" NFL playoff team.
Sportspress Northwest reports fans can take heart from the performance of the team's #2 quarterback, who had to step in for Matt Hasselbeck:
Charlie Whitehurst got the start at quarterback in place of Hasselbeck against St. Louis and completed 22 of 36 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown without an interception.
Seattle's trophy for winning? A date at home on Saturday in the playoff opener against the Super Bowl champ New Orleans Saints.
Finding Better Ways to Fund Higher Education
We'll learn more today about how the state might better fund higher education, even as it faces a brutal budget deficit. A governor-appointed task force is holding an 11 am news conference to release their findings.
Gov. Gregoire asked the group to come up with ideas to increase college degree production by 30% over the next decade, and recommend more stable funding sources.
When she formed the task force last summer, Gregoire said she also wanted recommendations on higher ed's governance model, performance and accountability, and how to better fund it:
“This means having a higher education system that is more transparent, performing better and serving our students in the most efficient way possible.”
The task force is chaired by Microsoft VP Brad Smith.
Mercer Island Shines in London
A couple weeks back, KPLU's Rachel Solomon reported on Mercer Island High's marching band as the kids prepared for a performance in London. It turned out the trip to perform became a story of its own. East Coast winter storms stranded dozens of band members, as detailed by the Mercer Island Reporter.
Eventually, the group made it to London's New Year's Day Parade, and you can part of their performance here: