Department of Ed Acts in ACCJC Case

The U.S. Department of Education has concluded that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges violated federal regulations in its review of the City College of San Francisco. The opinion is an important step that could bolster calls to set aside the commission’s decision to strip the college’s accreditation.

“Six weeks ago, when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced its baseless decision to strip accreditation from City College of San Francisco, I said that action demonstrated that the accreditation system had lost its way,” AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

“The ACCJC has lost sight of the mission of accreditation: to ensure that students are receiving an academically sound college education, something that has never been in doubt at City College, and based upon the department’s letter, we ask the ACCJC to conduct a new review under procedures that fully comply with Department of Education standards.”

The Department of Education’s letter on the case essentially finds that the ACCJC failed to conduct a valid peer review because its process grossly over-represented administrative personnel, with only one faculty member on the accreditation panel—ignoring the voices of faculty members who are the real keepers of the quality standards at any institution.

The department also faulted the ACCJC for not having effective controls to prevent conflicts of interest by members of its accreditation review teams. “That alone,” Weingarten adds, “should be sufficient to compel a return to City College of San Francisco to conduct a new review under proper procedures that ensure good faith and fairness to all interested parties—including students and the public who rely on City College and have invested so much in its success”

Read more about the case, and the efforts of AFT Local 2121 (which represents faculty and other employees at the college), to fight the accreditation decision on the California Federation of Teachers website.

[Barbara McKenna]

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