Who killed City College? - Page 2

Loss of accreditation tied to federal push for austerity and a curriculum that feeds universities and the economy

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Activist Windsong at a City College rally
PHOTO BY JOE FITZGERALD

But its critics say completion numbers are screwy: They discount students who are at affordable community colleges just to learn a single skill and students who switch schools, administrator Sanford Shugart of Valencia College in Florida wrote in an essay titled "Moving the Needle on College Completion Thoughtfully."

Funding decisions made from completion numbers affect millions of students nationwide — and CCSF has now become the biggest laboratory rat in this experiment in finding new ways to feed the modern economy.

"I think there was a general consensus that the country is in a position that, coming out of the recession, we have diminished resources," Paul Feist, spokesperson for the California Community College Chancellor's Office, told us. "Completion is important to the nation — if you talk to economic forecasters, there's a huge demand for educated workers. Completion is not a bad thing."

Like dominoes, the federal agenda and Obama's controversial Secretary of Education Arne Duncan tipped the Department of Education, followed by the ACCJC, and now City College — an activist school in an activist city and an institution that openly defied the new austerity regime.

 

WINNING THE BATTLE

In the ACCJC's Summer 2006 newsletter, Brice Harris — then an accreditation commissioner, now chancellor of the state community college system — described the conflict that arose when colleges rallied against completion measurements established by the federal government.

"In the current climate of increased accountability, our regional accrediting associations find that tight spot to be more like a vice," Harris wrote.

Many of the 14 demands the ACCJC made of City College trace back to the early days of Obama's administration, when local trustees resisted slashing the curriculum during the Great Recession.

"There's a logic to saying 'We don't want to put students on the street in the middle of a recession,'" said Karen Saginor, former City College academic senate president. "If you throw out the students, you can't put them in the closet for two years and bring them back when you have the money."

And they have a lot of students — more than 85,000. Like all community colleges in California, the price of entry is cheap, at $46 a unit and all welcome to attend. But since 2008, the system was hammered with budget cuts of more than $809 million, or 12 percent of its budget.

So programs were cut, including those for seniors, ex-inmates re-entering society, or young people enrolling to learn Photoshop or some other skill without committing to a four-year degree.

"As the recession hit, the Legislature instructed the community college system [to] prioritize basic skills, career technical, and transfer," Feist said. "That's to a large extent what we did. That was the reshaping of the mission of that whole system."

It's easy to cast the completion agenda as a shadowy villain in a grand dilemma, but as Feist or anyone on the federal level would note, people were already being pushed out of the system, to the tune of more than 500,000 students since the 2008-09 academic year due to the budget crisis. Course offerings have been slashed by 24 percent, according to the state chancellor's office.

But City College would only go so far. Then-Chancellor Don Q. Griffin raised the battle cry against austerity and the completion agenda at an October 2011 board meeting, his baritone voice sounding one of his fullest furies.

"It was obvious to me when I heard Bush ... and then Obama talking about the value of community colleges ... they're going to push out poor people, people of color, people who cannot afford to go anywhere else except the community college," he said.

But when it came to paying for that pushback, things got tricky.

Comments

only ever had a handful of classes, although it is fairly large, it was next to BART and MUNI. Then CCSF built that huge thing in Chinatown which is next to no transportation or parking.

They built a huge building that is a bitch to get to somewhat near a under utilized building next to transit,

It's hard to support CCSF and it's elected board when they make these interesting real estate decisions.

I support the CCSF operation but perhaps it would be good to let the adults run the show for a change.

It's interesting that there is something going on in the fevered minds of the progressives, other than the obvious.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

How many of the current CCSF Board members voted for the Chinatown campus?

Posted by anon on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

quite the disparate crowd.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

Berg, Wong and Grier.

Posted by anon on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

Classes at the Chinatown Campus are full to capacity. Classes at Downtown Campus are full to capacity. All new buildings were paid for by voter approved bond measures and the money for the bonds could only be used for its designated purpose of those specific buildings. Get your facts straight before you start blowing hot air.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 9:14 am

Is it a crime to offer student a comfortable building to continue their education? I personally would love to see my tax dollars pay for educational buildings, highway, and community services rather than creating bomb to kill people. If this country want to compete with the world economy, we need to upgrade all our public educational facilities.

Posted by Guest Caynnen Ta on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 9:44 am

The City only had a limited bond issuing capacity which was mostly taken up by the Chinatown Campus rather than projects that would have saved the entire City College.

By the way, much like the Central Subway will take funding from the MUNI system, leading it to a similar financial crisis.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 12:20 pm
Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 4:25 pm

CCSF could have created bond measures to upgrade existing buildings instead of building new ones.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

A 100% full class in a 15% full building not so far from a 100% full class in a 20% full building.

If you have twenty bongs and only have enough weed for two, and your pal has twenty bongs and only enough for one, how many bongs are going to waste?

or

>>> x=( 15.00 / 100.00 + 20.00 / 100.00 ) / 2.00
>>> print "the percentage of capacity used is: ", x

Solve for x

Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

Love your analogy!!!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

Regarding Chinatown campus, that's like saying all the other universities and colleges with other campus locations, ie. SFSU downtown campus, has no transportation or parking.
Petty complaints but not the real issue.

And personally, walk a few and leave the house earlier.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 12:38 am
Posted by matlock on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

Theres your first problem.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

The Central Subway project, the subway to nowhere, is an even worse idea that was sponsored by the same people who drove CCSF into the ground, and MUNI is absolutely next.

You don't have to believe it. You just have to watch it happen.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

So many of you are living in this fantasy world with demons and dragons. No one drove CCSF to the ground. CCSF has survived in spite of massive funding cuts. They have continued to operate and offer quality, low-cost education to thousands of San Franciscans and Bay Area residents. How about injecting a little reality into your discussion for a change?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 9:25 am

Every student is a source of income from the state, whether the student is learning Algebra or Yoga.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

I sense a sock puppet from the overpriced, stupid administration of loser CCSF. Let's face it CCSF has been corrupt and run by losers for decades, and anyone who served on the board in the last 15 years should be sent to jail for the corporate crimes they committed.

SMCCD does a way better job and serves more people. Hell, most any CC in CA does better than CCSF.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

Perhaps if CCSF had an effective mission statement, and followed it, or if they dealt with funding cuts instead of ignoring them, they would be in better shape. They could start by cutting "non-essential" classes, or collecting the small tuition they are required to collect. They could create an organization that is not totally incapable of making a decision - any decision. But ultimately, like other government organizations, they need to say NO once in a while.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

The housing market is a disaster, the Americas Cup makes up a laughing stock, CCSF is bankrupt and MUNI's days are totally numbered.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

Rose Pak.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 09, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

Lots of good information in this article BUT .....

1) CCSF is NOT dead. It's just begun to fight back. And it does not help and actually hurts to prematurely announce the death.

2) If it was a federal mandate you would see skyrocketing sanctions across the country. It's only ACCJC (Calif and Hawaii). ACCJC leadership has a uniquely hostile and bureaucratic leadership.

3) "The Feds made us do it" mantra is promoted by ACCJC. The reclusive ACCJC came out of its bunker to promote an interview with Edsource with that very message to counter the data in the excellent "ACCJC Gone Wild". Anyone interested in this story can find it online.

Ironically, the folks who demand data don't want people see the facts comparing ACCJC actions with those of the other five regional accreditors.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 8:16 am

who killed CCSF ?

The BOT , faculty union and staff unions, administrators and employees.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 8:34 am

then it would be successful. But run it as a city bureaucracy and it is doomed.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2013 @ 4:07 am

BOT, faculty union, staff union, administrators and employees.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 8:38 am

When you read the detailed report from the ACCJC, you see that they are very positive about CCSF and the progress we are making in nearly all areas. Further, ACCJC normally allows two years to make improvements, not one.

The shutdown order does not match the report.

Meanwhile, the CFT filed a 280 page complaint detailing all sorts of juicy conflicts of interest, such as (1) lobbying to allow retired chancellors to "double-dip" pensions plus salaries if they are working at a sanctioned college; and (2) trying to force colleges to put certain reserves in "irrevokable trusts" managed by the ACCJC.

The DoE asked ACCJC to respond. The ACCJC suddenly decided to shred all its documentation and slap CCSF with this shutdown order... again, it doesn't match the comments in the detailed report. Yes, there are still outstanding issues, but they are solvable and we have made remarkable progress.

I think it's a big fat wet kiss-off from the ACCJC to wreak a little more havoc before DoE finally shuts them down.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 8:56 am

The current Board, and Administration, were able to correct a whopping 2 out of 14 issues in how many months? There is a big part of the blame.

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 10:33 am

Seems to me that CCSF is trying to blame the evaluators and not take a hard look at themselves. CCSF is a mess- too many campuses- little oversight over the faculty- a screwed up decision making process that makes it almost impossible to make a real decision on anything and runaway finances and overly generous benfeits. CCSF got themselves into this mess- now everyone else has to pay for it.

Posted by Whackamole on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 9:46 am

"In the current climate of increased accountability, our regional accrediting associations find that tight spot to be more like a vice," Harris wrote."

Vice or vise? Typo or Freudian slip?

Posted by anon on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 9:58 am

He wrote "vice." I should've added (sic)

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

JOHN RIZZO's fault.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 11:13 am

This is the very best article that has been written on subject. Great Job, Mr. Fritzgerald!

When I first heard about City College's troubles three years ago, the rumor was that City College had abandoned the accreditation process for many years. For those of us who work at California Community Colleges and participate in the accreditation process constantly - we were just flabbergasted by that idea. How could City College just neglect the accreditation process and remain accredited?

Joe, can you please confirm if this true? Did City College abandon the accreditation process between 2006 and 2011?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

This is absolutely untrue, that City College was unresponsive to accreditation suggestions. After 2006, the college responded to what the commission wanted, providing interim reports in 2009 and 2011. These were accepted without much fanfare by ACCJC.

One point that Joe made in an otherwise excellent article which is not accurate is that "deficiencies" were cited in 2006. The 280-page complaint details this issue -- the ACCJC's "recommendations" miraculously turned into "deficiencies" by 2012.

As for faculty response to the 2012 sanction, everyone got on board. They participated in the various committees to address the 14 points. Most of the departments jumped on board with Student Learning Outcomes, putting in thousands of hours to add these SLOs to their courses. The Administration had their own ideas about staffing and fiscal matters -- many of which flew in the face of ACCJC or FCMAT comments, eg. that we need more administrative labor. They did not adequately address enrollment management; meanwhile, faculty volunteered during winter break to recruit students at BART stations, among other strategies. This interim leadership has hurt our ability to respond to the organizational concerns; in fact, they have thrown out the best of our leadership and the institutional knowledge therein in a senseless reorganization.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 8:37 pm

Thank you for responding and dispelling the rumor.

I also would like to thank sfbg.com for continuing to keep their comments anonymous. As a (published) writing participate of the self-assessment of a different community college district in the Bay Area, I do not feel I can ask questions about this online, except anonymously. So much for inclusiveness, ACCJC.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

This is absolutely untrue, that City College was unresponsive to accreditation suggestions. After 2006, the college responded to what the commission wanted, providing interim reports in 2009 and 2011. These were accepted without much fanfare by ACCJC.

One point that Joe made in an otherwise excellent article which is not accurate is that "deficiencies" were cited in 2006. The 280-page complaint details this issue -- their "recommendations" miraculously turned into "deficiencies" by 2012. One

As for faculty response to the 2012 sanction, everyone got on board. They participated in the various committees to address the 14 points. Most of the departments jumped on board with Student Learning Outcomes, putting in thousands of hours to add these SLOs to their courses. The Administration had their own ideas about staffing and fiscal matters -- many of which flew in the face of ACCJC or FCMAT comments, eg. that we need more administrative labor. They did not adequately address enrollment management; meanwhile, faculty volunteered during winter break to recruit students at BART stations, among other approaches. This interim leadership has hurt our ability to respond to the organizational concerns; in fact, they have thrown out the best of our leadership and the institutional knowledge therein in a senseless reorganization.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

Thank you for responding and dispelling the rumor.

I also would like to thank sfbg for continuing to keep their comments anonymous. As a (published) writing participate of the self-assessment of a different community college district in the Bay Area, I do not feel I can speak freely about this online, except anonymously. So much for inclusiveness, ACCJC.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

Joe,

Nice article about the campaign to close CCSF. It deserves front page coverage.

But, I think another "interest" is the killer, if not beneficiary. The real killer is likely those who have always hated the fact that poor students could fully transfer from CCSF to the rich and famous 4 year universities - in particular UC Berkeley. Look at the transfer numbers from CCSF and UCB and you will find the real culprit. For years, the rich have been trying to stop the flow of the poor from junior colleges. The closing of CCSF will be a major victor for them.

... Big money can do some sneaky shit.

Posted by ChaZ on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 12:45 am

Excellent article, Joe! You're kicking butt on this issue--much better coverage than Azimov at the Chronicle!

Thanks for helping to connect the dots between our local and national issues.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 6:35 am

Thanks for the info about the washington pressures. It expanded my understanding and shows an overall trend. But, with almost no mention of the internal dysfunction and atrocious fiscal situation, this article assists the ultimately unhelpful view that the issues with CCSF and are external and solely the result of "the man." When I look at the accreditation board report it says, "great plans and ideas but none of them are implemented" and I see the mindset that all of this is unfair, externally driven politics as behind the foot dragging and resistance towards implementing the reforms for 8 years. I love CCSF and love many of the teachers and think we need CCSF. We just need a functional CCSF.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Good point, but with this article I wanted to give a bird's eye view of the pressures that were acting on the college. I certainly didn't want to give the impression that CCSF is perfect, and included some sentences and quotes that alluded to the decisions made at the college. I tried my best to present something that the reader could make a decision for themselves about -- was City College justified in taking a principled stance against completion, or should they have gone along with it? Its a question The City has to ask itself.

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald (author) on Jul. 15, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

Liberalism.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 15, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

Insofar as the Obama Administration wants efficiency in education, I suppose it might be held responsible for "killing" City College. I think, however, that it's more accurate to blame the accrediting agency for trying to murder CCSF. The local accrediting agency has jurisdiction over California and Hawaii, where a third of the community and junior colleges are on probation. This figure is way above that of the other five accrediting regions; some of them have no colleges on probation, while none has more than 6%, i. e., one-fifth as many as in CA/HI. So it seems not to be Obama's national policy but our accrediting agency's regional policy which is the killer. Maybe the Bay Guardian could take a hard look at the ACCJC.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 2:42 pm