Fight to save City College grows teeth and bites back

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Another party joins the fray against the accrediting commission that is trying to close City College.
Photo by Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner, Illustration by SFBG

Saving City College of San Francisco became a bigger battle yesterday when the California Federation of Teachers announced a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court to keep CCSF open.

The suit is directed against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which pronounced the college’s death sentence July 3 by promising to revoke its accreditation in a year, without which a school cannot receive state funding and its students cannot get federal loans. 

Now, the ACCJC finds itself the institution under investigation by the feds and even City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and the CFT lawsuit is the latest legal challenge to the accreditors. 

The CFT charged the accrediting commission with using unfair and illegal business practices in its efforts to abolish City College. When asked for a statement about the impending lawsuit, ACCJC representative Tom Lane declined to comment.

“The ACCJC must be held accountable for their reckless, irresponsible and illegal actions,” CFT President Joshua Pechtalt explained at the Sept. 23 press conference held on the steps of City Hall, where the suit was announced. More importantly, Pechtalt said, winning this lawsuit could potentially stop the closure of CCSF.

A group of students, faculty, and elected officials stood with Pechtalt on the stone steps. One by one, they enumerated the improper activities that will be the basis of their lawsuit against the ACCJC: failing to adhere to its own policies and bylaws, violations of state and federal laws, and sanctioning CCSF without just cause.

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano said that the illegal behavior must stop here and now.

“The blatant lack of transparency, the loose interpretation of the rules, all seen through a lens of hubris and elitism, cannot continue,” he said. “San Francisco is our backyard and the college is our treasure.”

While Ammiano admitted that CCSF is not without its flaws and areas in need of improvement, he was quick to assert that closing the college was not the solution. “Stay out of our backyard unless you have something constructive to say,” he declared.

CCSF Student Trustee Shanell Williams assured the crowd that the lawsuit would be won. “The diverse population of the San Francisco Bay Area, including working families, single parents, new immigrants and others, depends greatly on this college being here,” she said. “If we lose City, we are going to be on our way to being an indentured, working class state.”

If the ACCJC succeeds in San Francisco, it will pave the way for identical treatment of other schools across the state, Williams said. Likewise, CCSF triumphing over the commission would be a victory for every community college in California.

Sup. David Campos also recognized the vital importance of CCSF’s continued existence. “We cannot have the American dream alive in San Francisco if City College closes,” he said. “This fight is about the soul of our city. ”

The US Department of Education has cited the ACCJC for failing to follow its own rules and procedures. A month ago, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee began investigating the commission. The following day, Herrera filed a lawsuit against the ACCJC, claiming it had illegally allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards.

A new report released by the city’s Budget and Legislative Analyst on Sept. 16 detailed the economic impact to San Francisco if City College were to close. The report was requested by Supervisor Eric Mar. We’ve detailed some of the report’s findings in the infographic below. 

ccsf closure infographic 

 

Comments

smoke without fire and there is little question that CCSF is a failed institution.

Maybe the ACCJC needs some reforms. Maybe not. But either way, it doesn't imply that CCSF should continue in anything like it's present form. Perhaps a stripped down version of it could be privatized and then be viable and desirable?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 10:15 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:47 am

If a person is to be judged by the content of his character, and not by the color of his skin, then a post is to be judged by the information imparted, not by the name of the poster.

Posted by Anon on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:05 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

You are being judged on the content of your posts. Ideological opposition to public institutions and organized labor is not an argument in itself.

Privatization of a two-year college serving between 75k-100k San Franciscans is a terribly unpopular idea, contraindicated by a wealth of empirical research, not in keeping with the culture of this City, and if University of Phoenix is any indicator, may cost students more for one class than it previously did for an entire semester.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:21 am

college i.e. the parts that are viable and can be saved.

The rest is probably going anyway, so we either save some of it or none of it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 7:52 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 8:11 am

Gosh Almighty!

Come here, Ma - lilli's trolling up a storm!

Posted by LOL Barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 8:22 am

instead simply reacts to anything here that he doesn't like.

That's some life he's got.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 8:33 am

USDOE letter to ACCJC, 13 August 2013:
http://www.aft2121.org/PDF/WASC-jr%20decision%20letter%20081313%20FINAL.pdf

"[T]he ACCJC is out of compliance with 34 CFR 602.15(a)(3), 602.15(a)(6), 602.18(e) and 602.20(a) of the Secretary's Criteria for Recognition".

"The Department finds that the ACCJC does not meet the requirements of the sections cited above. Section 496(l) of The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 USC 1099(b)(1), require the Department initiate adverse action when it determines that a recognized accrediting agency does not meet the Criteria for Recognition. Alternatively, the Department may allow the accrediting agency a limited timeframe, not to exceed 12 months, to come into full compliance. Therefore, we have determined that to avoid initiation of an action to limit, suspend or terminate ACCJC's recognition, ACCJC must take immediate steps to correct the areas of non-compliance identified in this letter."

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

there is a god...

Posted by racer x on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 5:40 pm
Posted by anon on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

Silencing voices which speaks the truth will not save CCSF.

CCSF IS fundamentally flawed and doomed right now. It needs to make drastic measures very quickly to turn itself around. It needs to make programs cuts and staff/faculty cuts quickly to strength its financial viability and sustainability.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

to the way Republicans talk about the postal service

open season for privatization, eh?

Posted by racer x on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

Actually, it's an exercise of 1st Amendment rights, which you can & have responded to by exercising your own. Who exactly has been silenced or censored? No one, by SFBG or the State.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

Though maybe you refer to ACCJC, in which case I totally agree. USDOE seems the most qualified judge however, and are not treating grave breaches of federal law & ACCJC's own self-imposed policies lightly.

After appearing before the CA Joint Legislative Audit Committee:
"[Sen. Nielson said,] It's a non-state agency. It doesn't have accountability standards. The U.S. Department of Education has said it has no policy against conflicts of interest. And most concerning is their manipulation of regulations to prevent public disclosure," said Nielsen, referring to a policy the commission adopted recently allowing it to destroy documents it no longer considers necessary."

"[CA State Sen. Jim] Nielsen [(R-Gerber, Tehama County)] also took a moment to launch into a personal diatribe against the commission's president, Barbara Beno, who was not there to defend herself, declaring her to be "arrogant, condescending and dismissive."
http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Lawmakers-OK-probe-of-accreditin...

Their new policy of destroying documents adopted by ACCJC as an emergency measure at their June 2013 meeting has brought injunctions by USDOE, SF City Attorney Herrera, and CFT/AFT2121 to prevent the destruction of evidence. Certainly evinces cognizance of guilt...

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

Maybe ACCJC (accred cte) does not need reforms? Maybe people don't need to eat. Your hypothesis is ridiculous and I question your position as an observer, "guest." I have been not an outside observer but a student and a worker at ccsf for many years. I'm in a position to see what's going on. If you aren't perfect, should you then die? THIS is what you propose!

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

there was some problem with some aspect of ACCJC.

It's been well and widely known that CCSF is dysfunctional for years.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

No, they are not. The criticisms of CCSF by commenters primarily either attack teachers unions/public sector workers, or the academic quality of CCSF.

Neither the ACCJC report, nor the FCMT financial analysis were about either. In fact, CCSF's academic quality & transfer/graduation outcomes were explicitly praised in the ACCJC's report, while responsibilities in the purview of administrators, elected Board of Trustees, and district Chancellor were slammed hard. ACCJC did recommend breaking the state 75% full-time faculty law on *new* hires (using more part-time adjunct instructors, illegally), plus hiring more managers to start at $100-120k/year, and FCMT recommended better, more efficient financial planning & less satellite campuses/centers, but neither advocated breaching contracts with retired faculty & staff, which is illegal under both state & federal labor law.

One of the reasons that informed parties on these matters can't take these baseless attacks on "entitled public sector employees", "greedy teachers' unions", and "a mediocre institution" seriously is the simple fact that anyone familiar with the actual SFCCD situation, that has read the various relevant documents, will know this opportunistic ideological sniping is by completely ignorant parties.

The problems were in finance, planning, budget, board role, governance, and administration, all areas where the Chancellor (CEO) is the decision-maker, and the Board almost always ratifies their recommendations. Faculty, staff, and student advisory recommendations can be ignored by the Chancellor & Board simply by signing a one-paragraph memo.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:11 am

If that is the case, a new chancellor and BOT will fix all problems. Let us wait and see. Does it look like the faculty is putting all the blame on the previous chancellors and BOT members ? Do the labor contracts need extensive revision ? Do staffing need extensive revision too ?

May be a new college ?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 7:56 am

Nope, it has been consistently listed a national model of academic excellence in a community college over the past 5 years, by the New York Times and numerous higher education trade publications.

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 2:14 am

Can you quote or provide links to this documents for our readers ?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 8:02 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/education/edlife/bestccs.html?pagewant...

"City College of San Francisco
Full time: 8,651. Part time: 34,604.
Transfer favorites: San Francisco State; University of California, Berkeley and Davis.

Urban community colleges typically have more part-time than full-time students, and City College has a lot of them. Since the convenience factor is critical, eight satellite campuses are scattered throughout the city, one for English language instruction alone. The college must also satisfy a daunting range of interests, from fashion to astronomy to biotechnology. The national headquarters for Bio-Link, a program devoted to improving biotechnology education, is situated on the main campus.

City College reflects its hometown both in racial composition (40 percent Asian) and culture (programs include Philippine studies; gay, lesbian and bisexual studies; and culinary and hospitality studies). The Institute of International Education consistently ranks City College among the top 10 community colleges in sending students to study abroad. Students can spend next fall and spring studying language and art history in Paris, Florence or Madrid. Foreign study credits are either all or partly transferable to California’s two state systems.

The rock-bottom line: $20 a credit hour, or $600 for two semesters. And there’s an impressive rate of return: 75 percent of full-time students return for the second year.

AND Courses are built around Diego Rivera’s “Pan-American Unity” at the Diego Rivera Theater on campus. The mural was commissioned for a 1940 international exposition and subsequently given to the college. The public can view the painting while student docents discuss its history and meaning."

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/education/edlife/bestccs.html?pagewant...

"City College of San Francisco
Full time: 8,651. Part time: 34,604.
Transfer favorites: San Francisco State; University of California, Berkeley and Davis.

Urban community colleges typically have more part-time than full-time students, and City College has a lot of them. Since the convenience factor is critical, eight satellite campuses are scattered throughout the city, one for English language instruction alone. The college must also satisfy a daunting range of interests, from fashion to astronomy to biotechnology. The national headquarters for Bio-Link, a program devoted to improving biotechnology education, is situated on the main campus.

City College reflects its hometown both in racial composition (40 percent Asian) and culture (programs include Philippine studies; gay, lesbian and bisexual studies; and culinary and hospitality studies). The Institute of International Education consistently ranks City College among the top 10 community colleges in sending students to study abroad. Students can spend next fall and spring studying language and art history in Paris, Florence or Madrid. Foreign study credits are either all or partly transferable to California’s two state systems.

The rock-bottom line: $20 a credit hour, or $600 for two semesters. And there’s an impressive rate of return: 75 percent of full-time students return for the second year.

AND Courses are built around Diego Rivera’s “Pan-American Unity” at the Diego Rivera Theater on campus. The mural was commissioned for a 1940 international exposition and subsequently given to the college. The public can view the painting while student docents discuss its history and meaning."

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

Do you have something more recent ? This is 7 years old.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Ha! Not my job to Google info for you that any technologically literate person can retrieve.

How about you provide a single link to USDOE or the FCMT claiming CCSF has poor academic quality?

Posted by saintlennybruce on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

Nobody dies ! The people who criticize CCSF and prefer CCSF closes want a well-run college for SF and their tax dollars spent wisely. They prefer the tax dollars not to line the pockets of some building developers and not to over- reward/over-compensate some employees for their incompetent work or lack of work.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

is designed to be the lowest rung of the educational ladder anyway. But it has been appallingly managed, and the unions and workers have been greedy and intransigent.

It would be easier to start over with a new college than preserve the mess that has been created.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 7:54 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 25, 2013 @ 8:10 am

That is right. A new college is better when ccsf is only average, even though the college WAS "best college" 7 years ago. A lot of things could have changed in 7 years.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:11 am

school for mediocer student. If we believe that we should invest in excellence and let the benefits of that trickle down to the rest, then we should be investing further up the academic scale.

But of course the real problem with CCSF isn't the lack of world-class academic excellence because nobody expects that for a community college. it's the appalling operational problems it bears, for which blame must be cast on management, staff, unions and of course political interference.

I support closing it down and setting up a board to oversee what rump of it can be transformed into something new, viable and relevant.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:32 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:44 am
Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 10:53 am

who support anything run by the city no matter how bad it is.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 10:59 am
Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

The noisey majority do, and anyone reading this knows that.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:46 am

Perhaps you are a failed human being that spends too much time at the bitterness bar.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 10:53 am

She did sound like she was clutching at straws, however.

Posted by anon on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:25 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:48 am

My reply was meant for the person who referred to CCSF as a failed institution.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

That's Lillipublicans, just so you know.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

i wasn't blocking you, i was blocking the inevitable bullshit troll response to your last comment ;)

Posted by racer x on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

You're just filling the thread up with troll posts.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:49 am

I must be getting close to the truth if he is running this scared.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:55 am

I like the way you ripped off our etc. Magazine story from last semester. What, you couldn't come up with an original graphic, so you had to steal our cover art.

Posted by Q on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:29 am

And ideally ask for your permission to use it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 24, 2013 @ 11:41 am

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