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UncategorizedCity College students, faculty plan rally as state prepares...

City College students, faculty plan rally as state prepares to fire accreditor

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

Students at City College rallied this spring against class cuts.
Students at City College rallied this spring against class cuts.

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.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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41 COMMENTS

  1. The LA Unions are behind this so do you really want your schools that poor quality? It doesn’t matter anyways since Commie Core is going down in flames. That means all the lazy students may actually have to learn something instead of getting a huge free pass!

  2. I am not even going to argue with dupes and have no idea why you are being led by the unions who DON”T GIVE TWO SHITS ABOUT YOU! By you people making ACCJC the new boogeyman is only going to keep things from changing for the better. It comes across to everyone who knows this issue that you WANT more lies and deception. That you WANT to keep education LOW quality and resist improving it which the students would benefit from. But NOOOOOOOOO, you say KEEP ME STUPID AND IGNORANT.

  3. I’m not claiming to know how to slice the pie (how to allocate the funds they have); I’m just saying the pie is getting smaller and something has to change. If you have a problem w/ technology or maintenance spending, that fight isn’t with me.

  4. Whatever. What you did say was that you lived in the SF Bay Area – this was when you were trolling using the handle of Oboed. I assumed you meant the East Bay.

    You may change your handle but we still know who you are Sam.

  5. Mike, when I wrote of unaddressed fiscal problems, I was not referring to the administration’s use of reserve funds for one year. There were many fiscal issues CCSF was postponing, often to concentrate on offering as many courses as possible and paying instructors. Not bad aims, but not fiscally responsible either.

    As to consolidating campuses — I raised that as a question, not a conclusion: are multiple campuses near one another fulfilling an academic, neighborhood, or other practical need? Or could we consolidate and still serve the CCSF student population well while saving money? Only after getting more information about whether consolidating campuses would be advisable, should we move on to your challenge as to what should be done with the closed campus buildings. For now, more questions than answers.

  6. So the campus had dipped into its reserves for one year. What’s the point of having them if not to be able to do so to weather the economic downturn the whole state found itself in. And, hmmm, what would you propose be done with the buildings where campuses are closed? I wonder.

  7. I have taken 2 not for credit classes at City College (for professional purposes). Compared to my elite liberal arts college, I would rate the teachers & content as excellent.
    Their computer system/paperwork is mired in the 70’s–tear off spreadsheets. I am now taking another great class–exercise for seniors. After 4 months & 3 enrollment forms, I am still not “officially enrolled”. This class may be cancelled due to “low enrollment”.

  8. I agree with other commenters here that CCSF had serious, postponed, and unaddressed fiscal problems prior to the inquiry and judgment that then threatened its accreditation and led to a substantial drop in enrollment and further revenue woes. I wonder if having so many campuses is part of the school’s fiscal problems. Why, for example, is there a campus at 4th and Mission, and another one at UN Plaza, as stated in the article. There is also a brand new, 14-story campus building on the edge of Chinatown and the Financial District on Washington near Kearny. They seem redundant. Perhaps by consolidating classes in fewer campuses we could still maintain neighborhoods’ accessibility to courses but also reduce infrastructure costs? Thoughts, anyone?

  9. I never said I live in the East Bay and I do not.

    I have suggested to those who complain that SF is too expensive move there, however.

  10. And 242,410 people (73% – much better than Ed Lee did) voted for Prop A to support City College in 2012, so their opinion matters more than your impressions of the City College teachers you happened to meet and have never seen teach a class.

  11. Blaming the accreditor for City College’s woes is like the Republican candidates blaming the debate moderators for their poor performance. It deflects attention away from real failings.

  12. This article misrepresents the negative impact of the ACCJC. It is not alone
    in the destruction of CCSF. Please take the time to read about the state
    chancellor’s student “success” task force whose key goal is to narrow
    the role and function of community colleges and ideally have in place a system
    in which all students who attend a community college finish within two years
    with a degree.

    The current state chancellor was an ACCJC commissioner from 2000-2007, part of which time is cited by his task force as representative of the ACCJC’s destructive policies. You would be foolish to count on him doing the right thing.

    For example, the state chancellor orchestrated the state takeover of CCSF. This resulted in displacing the democratically elected board of trustees and the installation of a special trustee. The state chancellor claimed that from that time on,
    great progress was made at CCSF. That included the hiring by the special trustee of a permanent chancellor of questionable competence in 2013 who, this summer, the state chancellor and new special trustee saw fit to demote.

    Questions should be raised about the state government which granted the ACCJC a monopoly over accrediting community colleges. Then there is the U.S. Dept of
    Education and its assorted questionable policies and desire to bring race to
    the top programs to higher education.

    You may regret giving the reader the impression that the ACCJC
    will soon be put out of business. Even if it is gone, the administration
    at CCSF gives numerous signs that it is following the ACCJC’s script as
    reflected in their massive proposed cuts in classes.

  13. Lang, you seem to be lost on the point where the admin and corporate reformers want bigger class sizes. So, regardless of enrollment ebbs and flows, they want 30 plus students per class which lowers education quality. And CCSF transfers are more successful at 4 yrs than those who start at 4 yrs as Freshmen.

  14. Conveniently, you leave out the the part about the admin funneling money to reserves, technology, building maintenance and consulting fees.

  15. Hey Tim, what’s this news about much of the BOT accepting the administration’s narrative in faculty contract negotiations? Surely, as a progressive, you have an opinion about that.

  16. There is a reason I call you $am; you think your money can buy you anything. The fact is, there are lots of people in this town who can buy and sell you many times over. Give it up guy, you are a loser tried and true.

  17. Not to defend ACCJC’s handling of CCSF’s accreditation review, but ACCJC wasn’t the only outfit that noted City College’s shortcomings in 2012. In that year, the Fiscal Crisis Management & Assistance Team out of the State Chancellor’s Office wrote, “City College of San Francisco (CCSF) has not developed a plan to fund significant liabilities and obligations such as retiree health benefits, adequate reserves, and workers’ compensation costs. Further, it has been subsidizing categorical programs with unrestricted general fund monies regardless of the effect on the general fund, and has provided salary increases and generous benefits with no discernible means to pay for them. The college has also used temporary one-time measures to mitigate its operating deficits, thus deferring difficult decisions to the future.”

    Since then, CCSF has benefited ($) from the statewide and local ballot measures, enjoyed $18-$20 million/year in temporary “stabilization” funding (tied to some extend to the presence of a special trustee), and suffered a dip in enrollment (a major factor in determining standard funding allocations from the State). How have the College’s financial standing changed here the College began and the financial ups and downs Is the College’s financial , but it would be nice know City College’s financial house in order regardless of ACCJC’s fate. Pretending that

    “https://www.ccsf.edu/dam/Organizational_Assets/Department/budget/20120914_FCMAT.pdf

  18. you responded to an earlier post that you lived in the east bay. do taxes from over there fund CCSF? just wondering.

  19. Is your refined and keenly honed intellect getting you what you want in our modern thrusting economy? Because it sure seems like you are whining a lot considering all the benefits and advantages that a CCSF education has bestowed upon you.

  20. In fact, I do attend CCSF, but I’ll match my educational credentials and world knowledge against yours any day.

  21. The mooted strategy is to downsize CCSF and I am giving it my full support. Why do you not respect the diversity of that opinion? I thought tolerance was a progressive value.

  22. Sounds like an organization you would fit right in with $am, never mind that you have no idea what you are talking about. Start stating some facts that can be verified and we have a discussion. Otherwise, it’s you sitting in outer space cuddling your money.

  23. do not correct anyone’s spelling – remember; or, you will be labeled an elitist; if you are a woman, you will be called a bitch

  24. But the difference is that they don’t pay my income but I do pay theirs. So my opinion matters more than theirs. The teachers there i have met are third rate hacks.

  25. Judging by your loose use of facts, I suspect those teachers would have a similarly low opinion of your intellectual capabilities.

  26. Enrollment is down because the college is a freaking disaster, mismanaged, over-funded, riddled with corruption and incompetence and ruined by unions.

  27. They are down because of the assault on the school, read with comprehension. It’s was a thriving 2 year institution for years It’s a city college…not Harvard, again purposefully positioned to aid a sector of our city that deserves an education beyond high school. Remember Schwarznegger and his support, wisely, of 2 yr. schools specifically for the purpose of helping those that don’t have the resources to go directly to a 4 year program. I’m sorry you have so much judgement.

  28. Berkeley isn’t world class? The ratings authorities disagree with you. And there is no “d” in Stanford.

    Good that you admit that CCSF has lost a quarter of its students. That makes the cited staff cuts of 25% entirely appropriate.

    Of course kids who go to CCSF do better than those who do not attend college at all. My advocation of downsizing does not rely on that tautology being false.

  29. I know for a fact that the classes are not full because, as Tim has stated, enrolment is down, presumably because aspiring students seek better colleges.

    and having known a few teachers there, I can confirm that they most certainly do not represent the shining pinnacle of American academia.

  30. $am, as usual, you don’t know what you’re talking about. CCSF entered the accreditation crisis with more than 100,000 students. Three-plus years after the accreditation crisis started that figure has fallen to 75,000 or less. Meanwhile, metrics from the state chancellor’s office show that students who attend CCSF have an academic success rate higher than their contemporaries. Further, it is common that Community College students perform better when they transfer to four-year institutions than those who start out as freshmen.

    Admit it $am: CCSF serves a population that you just don’t like. You intend to get your kids into elite institutions (good luck with that) and in the Bay Area that includes only Standford, Cal, and UCSF. All other students are SOL, and maybe you can rent to them some of your hovels. In your heart, $am, you are basically a classist jerk.

  31. Oh you privatizing maven you! And how do you know the school so intimately that you believe that it has bloated staff and students? The school is popular, classes full and positioned to assist the diverse array of students residing here. And as the article and all the governing associations point out, the conclusions held by the ACCJC, with which you concur, are wrong.

  32. I am comfortable with a downsizing of CCSF. It has long had a bloated roster of staff and students and, as the lowest rung on a degrading ladder of education, it is doubtful that many future high achievers will be lost if it is right-sized.

    The bloated pay and benefits structure of the staff almost guarantees that the enterprise is not viable. Why is CCSf not forging viable links with private companies to show its worth? Rather than clinging to ideologically flawed dogma?

    A 25% cut makes perfect sense, and then we should examine whether the remaining rump provides value add.

  33. Nice article Tim; it’s such a relief to get a more accurate picture than the hackery at SFGate (not sure if or why SFGate has an anti-CCSF agenda but the “reporting” always came out sounding that way, e.g. always painting the ACCJC as just a responsible agency doing the necessary but difficult job of properly revoking CCSF’s accreditation).

    But as much as I support CCSF for it’s excellent, multi-faceted service to the community, and as much I want to see the incompetent, politically driven AACJC gone, I wouldn’t go quite so far as saying that CCSF’s only problem was political. Based on the information I’ve seen, accurate or not, there have been some administrative problems at CCSF (which BTW was presumably not supposed to be any part of the evaluation of an accrediting agency) and I think some focus on those would be useful, if for no other reason than to lessen the possibility of a similar debacle in the future.

  34. It’s great that they’re finally coming to their senses and firing the accreditor. But when someone is stabbed, you need to do more than take the knife out to heal the victim.

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