School supporters want to stop dramatic cuts that were caused by an agency that almost everyone now admits was a disaster and needs to be abolished
By Tim Redmond
NOVEMBER 10, 2015 — City College faculty and students will rally Thursday to oppose far-reaching cuts in the size of the school – just as the state’s college governing board is prepared to fire the accrediting agency that created this entire problem.
The rally starts at 1:30pm at the downtown City College campus, 4th and Mission, with a march to the Civic Center campus (1170 Market at UN Plaza).
The protesters argue that the plans to downsize the school will undermine accessibility and diversity. Some plans discussed by the administration include cutting the number of classes by as much as 26 percent – which would also mean substantial faculty layoffs.
In the end, the school may wind up discussing whether to consolidate and close campuses (and then there will be the inevitable discussion about what to do with that space, which in some cases is exceptionally valuable real estate.)
The irony: All of this – the declining enrollment, the imposition of a special trustee, the cloud over the school’s accreditation – is the result of the actions of a rogue agency called the Accreditation Commission for Junior and Community Colleges, which has been on a vendetta against City College for years.
And now, the state Board of Governors, with the support of the state Community College Chancellor, is prepared to vote on a resolution to dismiss the ACCJC as the state’s recognized accreditor by next year.
At its Nov. 16-17 meeting, the board will consider a resolution that condemns the ACCJC in strong and unequivocal language and states that
The current structure of ACCJC, along with its lack of credibility as perceived by its peers and the public, no longer meet the current and anticipated needs of California community colleges.
The resolution directs the chancellor to come back in March, 2016 with a plan to replace the ACCJC and “establish a new model for an accrediting agency.”
Just about every single organization that represents community colleges or their staff in the state of California supports the resolution. So does the chancellor, Brice Harris.
Which means the odds are overwhelming that it will pass, and the state will approach the federal Department of Education (which has final say, and which also isn’t happy with the ACCJC) with a plan to eliminate the agency.
After all, the ACCJC is entirely funded by dues that community colleges pay. If there’s a new accreditor, then the ACCJC is no more.
All of which demonstrates that City College never had an academic problem – it had a political problem with a group of overseers who didn’t like the college’s mission and wanted dramatic changes.
Still, the damage remains. This out-of-control agency has deeply damaged one of the city’s most important academic and training institutions, and it will take time to get enrollment back up (which means convincing potential students that the school is not about to go under and that they will be able to get financial aid and graduate with valid degrees.)
I could certainly argue that the ACCJC is liable for the problems, and ought to pay City College what it takes to fix the situation. That’s impossible, of course – the Novato-based group only has the money that other colleges give it.
But somebody there should be held accountable.
And in the meantime, it’s up to the SF Community College Board to come up with a plan to preserve, not just cut – and to make a deal with the faculty union before things reach the point where the members feel they have to strike.