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In and outs of the political campaigns, focusing on Michigan and Lansing, Tim Skubick will report regularly throughout the primary and then general election campaigns.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Education Turf War

        T-u-r-f.  It's such a simple little four-letter word but in Lansing, turf battles are complex and never pretty to watch.
        "Ladies and gentlemen.  In this corner Michigan's community colleges and in that corner Michigan's premier four year universities.  Let the battle begin."
          Recently the junior colleges, as the university folks like to call them, have wanted to offer four-year degrees which is what the state's 15 major universities do.
         The big schools call it "mission creep" and they don't like it one iota.
         The community colleges won't back down in their efforts to offer universi ty degrees in nursing, culinary arts and concrete technology.
       They are emboldened, even though they lost this same battle last year, because President Obama has mentioned J.C.s by name in his effort to create new jobs for the unemployed, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm has given preferential treatment to the two year schools in her budgets…much to the dismay of the big guys.
        So the lines are drawn again.
        "We will actively oppose it," the lobbyist for the 15 university presidents tells the Detroit News.
         But in these tough economic times, the community folks may have reason on their side.
         First a four-year sheepskin from a community college is cheaper since many students can't afford room and board and tuition, not to mention the beer costs, at a big school.  They can stay at home, get a degree and get a job.
        The universities counter they have satellite campuses all over the state and students can live at home and get that four year degree at those facilities without going to East Lansing, A2 or elsewhere.
        Here's the irony. The two and four year institutions profess that students come first in the mission to pump more educated workers into the economy.  But turns out for the four year types, it's a mission statement with an asterisk i.e. as long as it does not infringe on our t-u-r-f.


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