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Washtenaw Community College is a Certificate School

The US Department of Education collects a lot of data on higher education institutions. One data tool it publishes is the College Scorecard, which allows users to compare schools based on common characteristics. As it turns out, it’s not easy to compare Washtenaw Community College with other community colleges in the area. The US Department of Education classifies schools like Henry Ford College, Schoolcraft College, Monroe County Community College, Lansing Community College and Wayne County Community College District as “two-year schools.” Washtenaw Community College, on the other hand, is a Certificate School.

According to the Department of Education classification, WCC is more comparable to truck driving schools, cosmetology schools, and for-profit schools.

If this doesn’t sound right, it’s not, but it is the way the US Department of Education looks at WCC. WCC no longer issues enough associate degrees to qualify as a two-year school. Think about that. The taxpayers of Washtenaw County have invested literally billions of dollars into WCC since 1966. We have spent enormously and generously to create a top-rated two-year college.

Instead, we have a college that more fairly compares with truck driving schools and beauty colleges.

A Certificate School limits Washtenaw County’s economic prosperity

This is by design. This transformation to a Certificate School was accomplished with purpose.

This is the “change” that the Board of Trustees have sought from the current administration. Evidently, the current Board of Trustees is not interested in creating economic prosperity for those who attend Washtenaw Community College.

The Trustees accomplished this by hiring an administration that, by-and-large, does not live in Washtenaw County. WCC Administrators do not live here, or pay taxes here and have no investment in this community. They come here to spend OUR educational dollars and then they go home at night. They do not care that they are literally destroying the institution that taxpayers here have generously funded and built since 1965.

This reckless approach of recasting WCC as a Certificate School does two things. First, it guarantees that people who earn certificates instead of two-year degrees will never experience any meaningful economic mobility. In other words, it keeps poor people poor.

Second, it keeps poor people where they are. By terminating the mechanism to economically enfranchise people, it caps the economic prosperity of the areas of county. Actually, I should say that it limits economic prosperity to areas of the county not inhabited by the economically disadvantaged. The other possible outcome is that it causes people living in ALICE households to move out of Washtenaw County altogether.

The WCC Board of Trustees has reduced WCC to a mechanism to create an “economic greenbelt” around Ann Arbor.

Is this what you want for WCC?