City College loses accreditation, throwing its future into doubt

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A student registers for classes at City College shortly before the announcement was made about revoking its accreditation.
Joe Fitzgerald

City College of San Francisco will lose its accreditation, it was announced today, and the venerable local college may not survive. With its impending death, the future of thousands of San Franciscans seeking education and a better life are in limbo.

The loss of accreditation becomes effective in one year, and the decision is being appealed, during which time local control is being transferred to a state trustee. The California Community College Chancellor's Office has not yet named the trustee that it will appoint, and officials say the trustee will be given full authority to make decisions in the place of the current Board of Trustees.

"I think state intervention is going to be necessary,” said Mayor Ed Lee told reporters this afternoon.

“It's imperative City College stay open for business and education the 85,000 students it serves" Lee said in a conference call with reporters. "I'm concerned about the devastating impact City College's termination would have on our great city."

The long-awaited decision was expected sometime around this long holiday weekend, and officials knew losing the accreditation was a possibility, but most said privately that they didn’t think the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges would actually pull the trigger. So right now, everyone is still reeling from the news.

"It’s too soon to say who that special trustee will be at that point," State Community College Chancellor Brice Harris said. 

Locally elected Trustee Rafael Mandelman said that the locally elected board will continue operating until July of 2014, when the termination of the accreditation becomes effective, but it's unclear what authority it will now have. 

“It’s disappointing, it’s outrageous, I don't think it’s called for. I don't think it’s the right outcome. I don’t think the state is going to do a better job running the school than a local board could,” he told us.

“We believe that the best way to bring the college from certain closure is to put the college under trusteeship of certain powers,” Harris said, adding that the search for a new chancellor for CCSF will now be accelerated. The current chancellor is an interim chancellor, the second one in a year after chancellor Don Griffin left the school due to an illness.

“We are disappointed in the Commission’s decision. We will be filing a request for review and will do everything in our power to have this decision reversed,” Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman said in a prepared statement. “What is of utmost importance at this time is that City College remains open, and instruction and services will continue. We want to assure our students and their families that we will serve them and continue to provide the high quality education that they expect from City College. We will continue to register new and returning students for the Fall semester and look forward to their arrival on campus in August.”

City College was put on sanction by the commission back in July of 2012 after allegedly failing to fix issues identified by the commission six years prior. Since then, the college has been in panic mode. 

The threat of closure brought drastic changes at whip lash speed over the past few months: two campuses shuttered, over 40 counselors and support staff were laid off, faculty took a 7 percent pay cut and student enrollment has plummeted.

Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Peter Goldstein put the college's finances this way, "This has been a nightmare of a fiscal year."

But there were positive improvements as well, said Alisa Messer, an English teacher and faculty union president of City College's local AFT 2121. 

"Faculty have banded together and worked hard to address the requirements around student learning outcomes," Messer said. SLOs, as they're commonly known, measure student learning over the course of a class and in a student's college career. 

"The accrediting commission felt it wasn't integrated throughout the college, but they would be hard pressed to say it isn't now," she said.

Despite City College's improvements the California Federation of Teachers is set on fighting the accreditation commission's decision. They filed a massive 280-plus page complaint to the U.S. Department of Education alleging that the accreditation commission violated many of its own rules in evaluating CCSF.

 

The commission responded by locking out over 30 faculty and concerned citizens from its most recent public meeting, even barring a reporter from the SF Chronicle from entering.  

Now the commission has asked visiting accreditation teams, who evaluate colleges on site, to shred their documentation to make such complaints harder to research, which was originally reported on by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

"The work you do here is a position of trust, the documents you receive are given to you in that light." said a faculty member who had served on prior accreditation teams, but did not wish to be named because they are not approved to speak on behalf of the accreditation commission. "When you're done fulfilling your responsibility its good policy to dispose of them, and its the commission's expectation."

Some of the documents are proprietary information at for-profit colleges, such as Heald. It makes sense to protect that private information. The visiting team has "a look behind the curtain," the faculty member said. 

But Messer isn't buying it. "We've asked they be more transparent, they've done the opposite of that," Messer said.

On the college's Ocean campus, just outside the Chancellor's office in a retro brown speckled hallway, Dennis Garcia walked by with his City College registration info in hand.

He's ready for his next semester, and unlike the thousands of students that didn't enroll in City College this year, he forged ahead.  

"I decided to come because I'm not scared or nervous about the school going down," he said.

Garcia is an 18-year-old criminal justice major and SF native who dreams of transferring to San Francisco or San Jose State Universities. He wants to be a star soccer player while in school.

But why did he stay when so many others fled? 

"Why City College? It's home," he said. "People say, coming here is not successful, but I mean, sometimes you don't have money and you're not an A or B student, but you get your math and English done and you go from there. College is college."

Now, whether City College remains a college this time next year is still an open question.

 

Comments

Before the trolls jump in and make a hundred irrelevant and insensitive comments, let me say that this is incredibly sad news and a devastating blow to our community. Reeling from this news.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

The thug Unions insisted on exorbitant pensions and this is the result. Pensions need to be eliminated - they are bankrupting cities and colleges.

Posted by Joe on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 3:32 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

Like I said, before the trolls make a hundred irrelevant comments. Pensions didn't bankrupt CCSF, constructing new campuses bankrupted CCSF. But if we only just taxed the rich some more, repealed prop 13, and diverted prison funding to education, we could build pkenty of new campuses, provide free quality education to all, provide good salaries and pensions, and pretty much save America.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

Wrong. CA and SF already have the highest taxes in the nation. That is what got us into this mess - overpaid city workers with a sense of entitlement because we are all paying for their sweetheart deal.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:50 am

That's simply false, esp. regarding property taxes. Oil isn't taxed in CA at any point in the supply chain from extraction to the gas station, only being taxed at the pump for Californians. The convoluted & poorly apportioned of post-1978 CA taxation, particularly high reliance on regressive ad valorum taxes (VATS like sales) are entirely due to the artificial suppression of the property tax revenue base.

You're clearly not familiar with the history of CA state education funding post-Prop 13 of 1978/Article 13A of the CA Constitution. If property owners were taxed at rates reflecting property value, with market-level increases, none of these issues with underfunded education would be a problem.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 08, 2013 @ 12:40 am

There has to be a balance between funding for essential government services like education, health care, housing and welfare to stabilize some communities on one hand, and the dislocation that property taxes that rose with property values would destabilize different communities on the other hand.

Posted by anon on Jul. 08, 2013 @ 8:26 am

made a lot of negligent decisions, but don't let stop your union bashing.

Posted by Michael W on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

unsustainable benefits and rigid working practices, and any college will fail.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 5:48 am

Yep, it was that "stern fiscal discipline" that the conservatives fetishize so much that mandated the institution shift resources into the pockets of the crony capitalists.

Posted by anon on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:57 am

I know what you mean, it is not simple to do it like you said, at least that is my personal opinion!

Posted by Yachtcharter Sun Odyssey 50 DS on Feb. 24, 2014 @ 12:35 am

TY for your thoughtful comment. Let the haters hate. Seriously. #CCSF belongs to all San Franciscans, and we are truly poorer if it is forced to shut its doors.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

There is no hatred. Just want tax money better spent. The way CCSF is run, it will bring down SF eventually. Poor management should have consequences.

Posted by AnotherGuest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 6:31 am

People see it coming for at least a year. Employees of CCSF see it coming years earlier. Pull the plug on CCSF is better than having SF goes down with it. It is a wake up call. Some good will come out of it.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:08 pm

I cannot imagine what purpose this will serve. Only the rich who can afford "better than City College" will get a decent education that will be recognized by higher institutions. SO.UNFAIR.

Posted by Guest SFAnnie on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

that politicians craft to include money into Richard Blum's (Mr. Dianne Feinstein) pocket.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

People were afraid to speak out that the CCSF Chinatown Campus was not a financially sound project that might have a dramatic impact on the entire college.

Just as it was unimaginable until today that CCSF would go bankrupt, the SF Muni system is next to go under after the $1.6 billion "subway to nowhere" sucks it dry.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

People were afraid to speak out that the CCSF Chinatown Campus was not a financially sound project that might have a dramatic impact on the entire college.

Just as it was unimaginable until today that CCSF would go bankrupt, the SF Muni system is next to go under after the $1.6 billion "subway to nowhere" sucks it dry.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

that City College was left holding the bill for when SF State pulled out of the contract half way through construction.

Posted by Michael W on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:29 pm

Do I get my parcel taxes back?

Posted by The Commish on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

that is CCSF.

At least now the poor thing will be out of it's misery for good.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:41 am

The real estate developers must be dancing. It will be a sad day if the City loses this valuable resource.

Posted by Azara on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:05 pm
Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:52 am

Ka-Ching! Am I right?

Posted by anon on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 10:11 am

rather than detract from it as at present then, yes, it's a plus for the city.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 5:49 am

Developments cost the City more than they generate in taxes, Ka-Ching, am I right?

Posted by anon on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 7:55 am

because they know that the trickle-down benefits are massive.

You can always move to Detroit if you really believe what you just said. Nobody develops anything there, and the city is almost bankrupt.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

Most cities don't compete to get development.

Posted by anon on Jul. 05, 2013 @ 6:41 pm

Trustee Rafael Mandelman says: "It’s disappointing, it’s outrageous, I don't think it’s called for. I don't think it’s the right outcome. I don’t think the state is going to do a better job running the school than a local board could."

But wasn't it the job of the Board of Trustees to oversee the institution? Where were they all these years when these problems were happening and why didn't they mandate anything be done about it?

Posted by Kristin on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

Mandelman should be embarrassed, because of these findings. In 2006, there were two findings by the commission that needed to be improved - but were not considered enough to warrant the warning.
By 2012, not only had these two issues gotten worse-but an additional 12 findings were found to be at least as serious.
Having read the Commissions report, and their addressing of the complaints filed - I don't think they acted incorrectly. In fact, apparently neither did the City College Board, because they did not file the complaint against the commission. That was done by a third party with no standing (teachers union did), So why didnt the Board file the complaint? Too busy at the demontration, building support for your next elected office?

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

The outcome of a State-run City College of San Francisco has been the end game all along. It really did not matter what people said or did...it was planned this way and then rammed down the peoples throats. That is why the state cut the schools budget by well over a $100 million, ambushed the governance thru a bogus and trumped up acrredidation, and gutted the institution. That is why Ed Lee refused to help when the college really needed him. That is why they waited until Griffin was leaving. That is why the finance and legal leaders at City College stayed quiet and blameless, while the teachers and the union was blamed and trounced by the press. The accredidation team and the tempirary chancellors were only henchman to shift power to the State. Now all that $ from recent propositions will go outside of SF and all those dedicated teachers will be put through turmoil. But, don't feel bad folks, there was nothing you could have done. It was planned.

Posted by tfigg on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

Sorry for any typos...I wrote from my cell phone :)

Posted by tfigg on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

This sounds plausible, but what does the State get out of it?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

The state gets to save money by withdrawing funding and privatizing the school

Posted by Guest on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 12:32 pm
?

Where did you get information that the State is planning on privatizing the school? Please provide a link to the source....

Posted by Richmondman on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

for years.

The SFBG which considered itself a watchdog over government has endorsed the usual airheads this whole time.

Now the self appointed watchdogs are bitching that things are falling apart.

It would surely be a shame to lose CCSF. It is/was an amazing operation, fucked up by people like Mandelman.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

As San Francisco is a city of immigrants, English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) education is critical for many families to advance economically. CCSF is the largest ESL education provider in the City, serving 25,000 students annually. Yet according to CCSF's own statistics, only 9% of all students in ESL Levels 1-4 (beginning) make it to Level 5 (intermediate). Since career and technical education programs begin at Level 5, that means 91% of CCSF ESL students are ineligible - and will be ineligible in the future - to enter job training programs.

The above statistics paint an alarming picture of an institution that is in need of significant change. While there are many individual dedicated teachers and some caring administrators at CCSF, the system as a whole is not producing the kind of results that would improve the economic well-being of many immigrants.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

As San Francisco is a city of immigrants, English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) education is critical for many families to advance economically. CCSF is the largest ESL education provider in the City, serving 25,000 students annually. Yet according to CCSF's own statistics, only 9% of all students in ESL Levels 1-4 (beginning) make it to Level 5 (intermediate). Since career and technical education programs begin at Level 5, that means 91% of CCSF ESL students are ineligible - and will be ineligible in the future - to enter job training programs.

The above statistics paint an alarming picture of an institution that is in need of significant change. While there are many individual dedicated teachers and some caring administrators at CCSF, the system as a whole is not producing the kind of results that would improve the economic well-being of many immigrants.

Posted by Homer on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

Simply not true. Most career and technical education classes have no pre-reqs, and are routinely full of ESL students.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

Immigrants are always free to go back to where they came from if the quality of education provided here is not good enough for them.

Posted by anon on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

people are always willing to pay to learn English

Posted by Guest on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 9:49 am

I would say that this information is not completely accurate. A lot of CCSF programs are not require to have an advance level of English language skills, which actually might be problematic for some ESL students who are not ready to read and understand/comprehend the amount of material necessary to be successful in their classes. Some programs do require having adequate language skills, and I believe that it is a reasonable expectation for programs like nursing or radiation therapy technology since it involves learning how to take medical care of people. I wish I would not take some of my classes prior to have more advanced English skills, but I can say that I had that choice and I took advantage of it because I, as many other students, wanted to finish my program sooner. Obviously, quantity is good, but quality of education is very important as well. Regardless of all the bad publicity about CCSF, this school has provided great access to quality public education for thousands of students every year, including immigrants. Please, do make some improvements if necessary, but with good reasons and without downgrading the level of quality for graduate requirements.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 08, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

Simply not true. Most career and technical courses have no pre-reqs. Classes often have many ESL students.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

This was his jumping off point to run for BOS in 2-4 years. What's he supposed to do now?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

and start the march towards Ammiano mediocrity.

Posted by matlock on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 1:54 am

SFUSD board positions are usually jumping off positions to BOS. He'll be fine. The students - not so much.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jul. 04, 2013 @ 10:42 am

Let's turn the large lots of land over to housing.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 03, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

"Let's turn the large lots of land over to housing."

Thank you. The picture is getting clearer...
It seems like that CCSF problem is not that the school is not providing affordable and quality education for diverse communities, but that it occupies desirable locations in the city that can be turned into big profits. Is that possible that it is why the effort to downsize CCSF is so vigorous? Do we have a winner already?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

I'm sure some of the classes are OK, but not many parents hope that their kids will go there. It's the lowest rung of college education and is definitely disposable.

I'm comfortable with CCSF closing.

Posted by anon on Nov. 05, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

Saying that City College of San Francisco is just for kids indicates a lack of understanding what this school is all about and its importance for the diverse and multicultural SF community. It serves people of all ages after 17 and up to the 80+. It serves and accommodates a huge number of disabled students. It became a hub for veterans where they can gain new skills and get lots of support, including counseling services. CCSF is a home for many competitive programs not just at the state, but at the national levels. The ESL (English as a Second language) helps thousands of students every year to learn English and pursue their dreams (whatever those dreams are). CCSF gave a great start to thousands and thousands and thousands students since it was established. Saying so lightly that you don't care about CCSF and that it is fine with you if this school will be closed is like saying that you don't care about other people's lives at all. Who could possibly take responsibility to deny thousands of people an access to education without even considering to do a little research and educating yourself about the issue? Please take some time and walk around one of the campuses and you might feel somehow different. Thank you!
http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/11/07/rep-speier-calls-federal-accredi...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 08, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

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