Students who want an elevated classroom experience, access to college classes at Eastern Michigan University, or need a personalized approach to fit their lifestyle can explore opportunities tailored to their needs through Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium (WEOC). To provide an expanded offering of educational choices, the community and the nine Washtenaw County public school districts collaborated to establish the consortium's first program in 2007.
The consortium offers unique learning environments for students in grades 6-12 and includes:
- Individualized instructional approaches
- Progressive educational techniques that spur learning
- Wrap-around services to support student success
- Focus on equitable opportunities for all students
- Full access to technology systems vital for further education or the workplace
- Students may participate in sports, music, and other extracurricular activities with their home districts
Programs provided by WEOC are available to all Washtenaw County students enrolled in public schools. Out-of-county students can access these programs through a School of Choice enrollment in a participating school district.
The group is governed by the WEOC Joint Steering Committee comprised of the superintendents of each local district and the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.
Formation of WEOC
Launching the WEOC was centered around the idea of creating diverse educational offerings for all students, particularly students who are marginalized.
The Eastern Leaders Group (ELG), a partnership of business, education, and government officials from Washtenaw County, Eastern Michigan University, and civic and private sector leaders began in 2006 to discuss bringing a fresh academic approach to the students in the county. The group grappled with the question of equity in Washtenaw County, which is one of the most educated counties in the United States. Yet, a significant disparity exists in education, economics, and resources among people living in the county's eastern side versus the more affluent communities to the west. The idea of early college programs was gaining traction, and ELG began to explore the “what ifs” related to an education option with the potential to remedy some of the quality-of-life imbalances. The vision took hold and installing the Early College Alliance at Eastern Michigan University made sense. Ypsilanti is where the greatest need exists, and the central location would reduce the transportation barrier for low-income families and open enrollment channels for EMU.
The ECA@EMU was one of three programs that came out of this discussion. Washtenaw International High School, an International Baccalaureate Program (later adding Washtenaw International Middle Academy), and Washtenaw Alliance for Virtual Education, an online academic program, were created to meet the educational demands for more differentiated learning environments. The consortium was formed to provide oversight, support, and governance.