The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has voted to terminate accreditation for City College of San Francisco. The school could close by summer of next year, and is only the second public community college in the state to ever lose accreditation. The college has been scrambling to make organizational changes since the Commission put the school under the most severe sanction last year. City College is one of the largest community colleges in the country with 85,000 students. We discuss the decision and what it will mean for the school and its students.

Nanette Asimov, high education reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle
William Walker, former student trustee for the City College Board of Trustees
Alisa Messer, English teacher and president of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2121, which represents the faculty at City College of San Francisco
Jennifer Aries, communications consultant for City College of San Francisco

  • sidebyside

    CCSF was criticized for paying their part-time employees too much. And we all know the children of the wealthy feed on the teet of lower-middle class student debt. An easy fix to the whole problem is to convert some of City College’s campuses to CSU campuses. Students will be forced to rack up debt (ensuring the wealthy can get their bonuses) and the expensive part-timers can apply for part-time positions at CSU, where the hourly rate is a lot lower (with no health benefits).

    How bad do things have to get for the working class before people are in the streets in full force? Will forced student indebtedness be enough to spark the sea change we all know is building?

    “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all! ” – Mario Savio, 1964

    • Justin Tsui

      Is $9.00/hr too expensive?

  • thucy

    I just heard Jaron Lanier (“father of virtual reality”) interviewed on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show. They discussed the impact of digital networks on education and the middle class.
    Would be great to get Lanier on Forum as a Silicon Valley antidote to all the Silicon Valley boosterism on KQED.

    Here’s the blurb;
    “Jaron Lanier, the father of virtual reality and one of the most influential thinkers of our time, examines the effects network technologies have had on our economy. In his new book “Who Owns the Future?” he asserts that the rise of digital networks led our economy into recession and decimated the middle class. He looks at why and charts the path toward a new information economy that will stabilize the middle class and allow it to grow.”

  • catherine L

    During the discussion, PLEASE remember to guide everyone to an action that can be taken. This is a decision which can be appealed, and it is the DUTY of all the elected officials to step in and make sure CCSF stays accredited. Give people the info they need to respond in a participatory manner, not just within a passive past tense. Everyone who believes in the high quality education of CCSF (which has NEVER been doubted) needs to call their SF, CA and Federal reps to divert this disaster. The ACCJC can do indicate many other status’ other than loss of accred. This is their revenge because the CCSF students and staff dared to question them as a legitimate body who is deeply conflicted (and themselves in financial trouble who had to dip into reserves this year, the same action they criticize CCSF for doing, in the Great Recession).

  • OrdinaryJoe

    Please read this article from the NY Times back in 2010.
    Tells you a lot about the internal politics of CCSF and why it is so toxic.

    At City College, a Battle Over Remedial Classes for English and Math

    “At City College of San Francisco, one of the country’s largest public
    universities, thousands of struggling students pour into remedial English and
    math classes — and then the vast majority disappear, never to receive a college

    “When Steve Ngo, a 33-year-old college trustee, learned that many minority
    students, among others, faced two-and-a-half years, or five semesters, of
    remedial English classes and a year and a half of math at the two-year college,
    he was shocked into action. His campaign for a one-year sequence of remedial
    courses ignited a campus furor, with students and a few trustees on one side
    and faculty members, irate about the intrusion of trustees on academic turf, on
    the other.”

    “The college’s 2009 equity report showed that just 4 percent of black
    students and 7 percent of Hispanic students who began English remedial classes
    at the bottom rung eventually completed English 1A. The rest are lost, either
    failing to enroll, failing a class or dropping out. The number for white
    students — 12 percent — is not much better.”

    “Mr. Ngo then produced a draft resolution that directed the English and
    math departments to offer a sequence of pre-college English and math classes
    “in a length no longer than two semesters.”

    Faculty members were outraged. One called Mr. Ngo a fascist. The trustee was
    accused of violating the education code and of “imperiling” the
    college’s accreditation, an accusation that the chancellor said he was not
    aware of. Mr. Ngo received e-mail that attacked his “top-down attempt at
    micro managing,” and that said he had polarized the campus, setting off
    “a firestorm of faculty anger.”

    • thucy

      Two questions:
      1) Why is the NYT, per your quote and link, describing City College as a University?
      2) Would anyone who has worked in academia really think the exaggerated response to Trustee Ngo’s proposal is unusual for college/university disputes?

    • Dana Jae (MamaSound)

      And while reading about how “…it’s so toxic…”, Ordinary Joe, why don’t you peruse the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office report on scorecard comparisons between the colleges. Interesting find: CCSF does better in nearly every category than all of the other Bay Area CCCs and it serves more than double the student population. Facts are an interesting thing, aren’t they?

  • Xochiquetzal Candelaria

    City College of San Francisco has been bolstering its reserves in the past year, reporting SLOs and reorganizing governance so it makes no sense that accreditation was not renewed.
    Can we as San Franciscans ask for more answers from the ACCJC, more proof from the ACCJC?

  • Doug F

    Contrary to a couple of people’s contra-factual opening statements:
    1 CCSF has been on notice that it had accreditation problems for NINE years, not one.

    2 Academic quality IS a major issue. 3 of the 14 requirements concerned evaluation of instruction. Their main point is that CCSF has no idea how good it is, since they’re doing no real evaluation at all.
    3 The loss of accreditation should have been no surprise at all. CCSF was given 14 requirements & a year to fix them, went through the motions instead of actually solving the problems, & ended up meeting TWO.

    4 If the accreditation panel’s requirements are so hard to meet, why have NONE of the dozens of other badly underfunded community colleges in CA had much trouble? All they seem to need is minimally competent bureaucratic management.

    Bottom line, CCSF’s administration, staff & many teachers are mostly politically correct blithering idiots who couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag. Fire them all, & before they can start collecting their cushy pensions.

    • thucy

      “Bottom line, CCSF’s administration, staff & many teachers are mostly politically correct blithering idiots who couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag. Fire them all, & before they can start collecting their cushy pensions.”

      It might serve your argument better if you laid off the name-calling. But that extreme language makes me wonder if there are any other city pension and salary issues you might be ignoring? What is the relative cost of an NYPD officer vs. an SFPD officer, both first-year? What are the “pension spiking” issues within SFPD, and why are they “unresolvable”? Are some of your complaints about CCSF management incompetence applicable to SFPD?

    • earthling01

      It’s fine to complain if you feel your tax dollars could be better spent, but please do NOT spew misinformation as you have done above. You post indicates you have no idea what is really happening at the college. You are merely repeating false claims made by the ACCJC (who you might have noticed did NOT join today’s discussion to support their decision because they do NOT have legitimate reasons behind it).
      CCSF has met ALL of the commission’s guidelines and is within the legal guidelines for the State of California. The problem is the ACCJC continues to move the goal post.
      Have you bothered to read the complaint against the ACCJC?
      They are a private organization that supports for-profit corporate interests. They do NOT have the public’s interests in mind. This is about privatization of low-cost, high-quality higher education for those who might otherwise not have access.

    • Dana Jae (MamaSound)

      Douglas H.Finley – please get your facts straight. Only ONE of the 14 points had to do with quality of education = Student Learning Outcomes = paperwork comparison chart of student success. All other of the 13 had to do with finances, governance, leadership/stewardship of the college.
      And if you want to compare how CCSF does with the other Community Colleges in the CA, just go here and see for yourself:

      CCSF ranks higher than nearly everyone in almost all categories. I believe the blithering idiot here is YOU.

  • Sam Badger

    It seems outrageous that a private organization can simply tear up the accreditation of a major JC. A group without public accountability to the people who use the school should not have any right to do this. These people are not even being transparent in coming out to explain their services to public forums like this show!!! They have absolutely no credibility! While I never went to CCSF, I have attended Foothill College and it is obvious to me how important this kind of institution is, and it provides a critical service. I know many SF students who go to CCSF and benefit from its services. The future of CCSF should be decided by the faculty, students, people of SF and California as a whole and not some private body.

    As for messy finances, perhaps CCSF has made some mistakes here, but many accredited universities and colleges seem to make much worse financial decisions on a regular basis without losing accreditation.

    • thucy

      “As for messy finances, perhaps CCSF has made some mistakes here, but many accredited universities and colleges seem to make much worse financial decisions on a regular basis without losing accreditation.”

      Indeed. Look at NY’s legendary Cooper Union, which was heavily invested in hedge funds in the past few years, and can no longer provide free tuition. And Harvard, in the immediate aftermath of the ’07 crash.

  • Donna Hayes

    Please discuss the political payback issue. ACCJC inappropriately supported the Student Success Act, which CCSF opposed. The act severely limited student access to education. The ACCJC is supposed to be nonpolitical.

    Donna Hayes

  • shroomduke

    I see other stories about Schools Losing Accreditation, I think this is about the Privatization of Education and it’s part of the plant to CRUSH DEMOCRACY (or “drown it in the bathtub”) by PRIVATIZING EVERYTHING just google “privatize everything” This goes back to Reaganomics (fascism or economic hegemony) biggest corporations and richest people are paying less and less and funnelling tax’s paid back to them through defence contracts, rigging markets, bailouts and strong arming congress.

    This is the slow ugly creep of fascism

    • earthling01

      I couldn’t agree more…

      This is nothing more than Scott Walker-style union busting, but it’s right here in California. That’s why it is so hard to believe.
      I am convinced that this “objective” private commission (namely Barbara Beno) are shills for the imminent corporate takeover of public higher education.

      This can not stand! Our voices will be heard. This takeover is completely illegal and unacceptable.

  • KPV

    While we haven’t seen the full report from Accrediting Commission, its decision letter previews its reasoning.

    The letter states:

    -“The governing board [Elected Trustees] has been unable to perform its appropriate roles and assume responsibility for united leadership, and its actions undermine the ability of the Chancellor to move expeditiously to make needed changes.”

    – “The College has very significant internal control deficiencies that were largely unaddressed over the last year. The College contracted with the Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) in 2012 and the team made 53 recommendations, most of which the Show Cause Evaluation Report found to be unaddressed as of 2013… The institution’s inability to identify the costs associated with all of its sites and centers, identified as a problem in 2006, still remains.”

    Complete letter:

  • Jason Benlevi

    How is it possible that in a city where no home in under a million dollars do we always seem short of funds for schools? How is it possible that a great school that serves so many can be unaccredited when there are schools in America that seem to offer football as the principle educational activity?

  • Alan Kaufman

    As the Dean and co-founder, with Matt Gonzalez, of The Free University of San Francisco, I want to register my outrage and disgust at the defacto termination of CCSF, an instution of proven community value, one that has been practically indespensable to the advancement of our most underserved communities. And it is precisely because it is, largely, a working-class, senior, single-parent and immigrant-oriented school that CCSF will be forced to shut its doors. It does not serve the Brave New World vision of the Silicon Valley New Money Zillionaires and Trust Fund Brats who now dominate San Francisco. The Rich have reduced this town to a bedroom community of Google,Twitter and Zinger: a start-up entrepeneur’s weekend Disneyworld playground for whoo-hooing drug-addled hipsters who roar down Valencia Street — once The Street of the Poets– in Farraris and who treat the dwindling number of locals left the way an aristocrat would a vassal. And in fact, that is why CCSF will shut down, for it is a democratic equalizing institution of the People and there is no room for the People in San Francisco anymore. There are only the Monied and their domestics. The rest, one by one, slip away, unable to gain traction in a housing market geared to six and seven figure incomes; unable to find employment in a city where no one works because they’re rich, or else who perform specialized corporate functions that have nothing to do with human intelligence or depth or spirit and least of all with education. Lastly, this is yet one more step in the cynical sweeping privatization of education that is turning students into units of consumption, and devouring the hope and promise of our youth.


    Alan Kaufman, author, Dean of The Free University of San Francisco

  • DFW

    It would have been nice if the host had let Alisa Messer speak as much as the other guests. We’ve heard and read enough from Nanette Asimov for one life time. If you’re going to have a program about CCSF you need to have people on the show that actually represent what CCSF is, like Ms. Messer, and Karen Saginor who called in, NOT reporters or communications consultants, even if they mean well. CCSF represents what is left of the middle class in SF and when it is gone, the city will be left to the super rich. Most people see by now that the ACCJC is operating behind private corporate interests and with a union busting agenda, and this show’s reporting needs to address that.

  • People have different motivations for attending a city college versus another form of post – secondary educational institution. People like me know this particular school might have issues, but with its facilities as new should be allowed to remain open. It is possible that, and this without listening to your program, the school here has non – administrative, non – faculty issues that impact every stakeholder in a noticeable and possibly complex way that even was not directly discussed on the air. The school has lots of students and this is a primary and key success factor for any learning establishment. Due probably to the number of people left out in the cold by possible closure, there needs possibly a clemency time to see if what appear to be some standards or criteria can be met by teachers, students and / or administration, or even a technical change in the school’s charter might help. This is a place that gave hope to people about education and post – secondary academics, and is a let – down for anybody who has been there. People like me would encourage again and especially the pupils and faculty here not to lose hope, and encourage you to continue to attend and to fight closing the place.

  • MJ Watz

    This school gave me everything, I never would have transferred to UCLA without it. If it loses accreditation, its students will lose such an important support system. For some this school is the only way they can improve their lives and their futures.

  • justicestudents

    the ACCJC is an illegitimate body! Here is a press forum from the Save CCSF Coalition. 7/05/13

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