Ever since the California-based Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced on July 3 that it was revoking the accreditation of the City College of San Francisco effective July 31, 2014, the expressions of support—not to mention incredulity—have been pouring in.
The latest endorsement came this week from San Francisco’s four representatives to the state Legislature, who made their views known “in the strongest possible terms.”
“The College means so many things to the City, and we believe it is crucial to keep it operating, accredited and representing the values that San Franciscans cherish,” said state Sens. Mark Leno and Leland Yee, who were joined by Assembly members Tom Ammiano and Phil Ting.
“This is about much more than the numbers of students and employees at City College—although those are both significant. Half of all San Franciscans have a direct connection to the College—either attending courses there, or having family members who attended,” they continued. It’s about the values CCSF represents and upholds: a commitment to serving all and to making courses affordable and accessible to people of all incomes and backgrounds.
The legislators noted the ringing endorsement of the city’s population last fall in passing a tax that would raise millions to keep the college operating until the state economy and regular revenues bounce back.
And, despite the extremity of ACCJC’s decision, no one, including the accrediting commission, is suggesting a problem with quality at the institution that serves 85,000—a point this op-ed makes compellingly.
This week, eloquent letters of support came from fellow AFT affiliates the United Faculty of Miami Dade College and the Professional Staff Congress. The Council of University of California Faculty Associations also weighed in, applauding CCSF faculty and students for maintaining their commitment to quality education under extremely difficult conditions.
The fight to save the college is taking place on many fronts. AFT Local 2121, representing faculty and staff at CCSF, has been leading the effort to bring community groups together in a campaign called Save CCSF. At the same time, the college’s faculty and staff have been juggling multiple jobs—doing their regular work teaching and serving the 85,000 students at CCSF, while working overtime for the past year on college committees to address, in good faith, the recommendations of the accrediting agency, which leveled the sanction last summer.
On another front, the California Federation of Teachers and AFT 2121 are going after the ACCJC, charging that the accreditor has gone wildly off the tracks, violating state and federal regulations and its own standards. The labor organizations have filed a 300-page complaint with the ACCJC and the U.S. Department of Education. Last week, after the devastating decision from the accreditor, a group of community activists heard from Marty Hittleman, the CFT’s past president, who said the ACCJC has created “a reign of terror across the state.”
“It is a criminal act to shut down a college that is serving its students with quality education,” he said. “This agency is taking the hope out of the hearts of San Francisco students and is taking the livelihoods of CCSF’s faculty and staff.” Watch the video of Hittleman’s presentation.