Saving City College

The real problem is the state's defunding of public education

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By Chris Jackson

Although a recent accreditation report levels a long list of criticisms of City College, some of them legitimate issues that need to be addressed, the real problem is the state's defunding of public education and its disinvestment in our community-college system.

There's no question that everyone is going to work to keep City College open and serving our communities.

City College of San Francisco serves more than 90,000 students each year, trains (and retrains) our workforce, teaches English to our immigrant populations, fosters lifelong learning, and provides affordable, accessible pathways into all of higher education's opportunities. But five years of drastic cuts in state funding has resulted in shrinking programs and overflowing classes; skyrocketing costs to students and families; employee furloughs, pay cuts, and givebacks; shutting the doors on far too many students who are unable to get the classes they need; and an increasing sense that community college education and its mission are wholly threatened for our city's diverse students.

Overall, if you read the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College's report, the commission is asking City College to shrink its mission of providing a high quality, affordable education to all who come to its doors. The ACCJC wants City College to step away from its San Francisco value of "chopping from the top" — cutting administration instead of teachers.

Let's be clear, the buck stops with the elected Board of Trustees. We as a board are going to work together with the entire City College family to save the college and its accreditation and look at and resolve all of the issues brought up in the accreditation report.

With that said, it's important to understand that California's institutions of higher education have taken huge cuts during our historic recession and subsequent unemployment — a time when more and more people have come to use our educational resources to help in their quest to find jobs.

Over the past four years, the state has cut more than $1 billion from the community college system. That includes a $17 million cut to City College last year — and this year, we've worked to close an additional $14 million budget deficit. Last year, more than 10,000 students were unable to attend City College due to lack classes.

While students are scrambling for classroom seats, the commission is arguing that City College has too few administrators. But we're proud of the fact that every available dollar continues to go to saving City College classes and student access.

City College has spent the last year planning to place a parcel tax on this November's ballot — to raise funds specifically to address many of the problems cited in the report. If the City College parcel tax and Governor Brown's tax both pass, City College will have the money to restore many of the classes, services and liabilities that we've been unable to address.

As the largest community college in California, our mission and values are to serve all that come to the doors of City College, and let this be clear to our communities: We will never shrink away from that mission.

Chris Jackson is a member of the San Francisco Community College Board of Trustees

 

Comments

While I agree that the state undervalues community college education and that the cuts are certainly a big part of the current predicament, why didn't the Board of Trustees address these problems in 2006, transparently keep the community of what was going on, and try to find a solution, such as this parcel tax option, then?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 8:15 am

Here's what worries me: You (and many others I have heard) acknowledge that "the commission is asking City College to shrink its mission of providing a high quality, affordable education to all who come to its doors." You assert that "everyone is going to work to keep City College open," but then you end by promising, "We will never shrink away from that mission." If the commission wants us to shrink our mission and we vow not to do that, how do we stay open?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:37 am
Ugh

Do you understand what "the buck stops here" means?

The phrase indicates where *responsibility* rests. How can you claim to be a responsible party and then say State funding cuts are the "real problem"? Does the buck stop at 50 Phelan Ave or Sacramento? It can't stop at both places.

Yes, cuts have been stressful to the CA Community College system, but all 112 colleges have endured similar cuts. None seem to have driven as far into the ditch as CCSF. Why is that?

Your suggestion that only some of the Accreditation Commission's recommendations are legit is wildly irresponsible. One reason CCSF faces closure is that the institution responded to select recommendations made in 2006 and ignored others. In case you've missed the point: ALL of the Commission's recommendations must be addressed if CCSF is to maintain accreditation; it's not up to you to pick and choose.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:53 am
Ugh

Do you understand what "the buck stops here" means?

The phrase indicates where *responsibility* rests. How can you claim to be a responsible party and then say State funding cuts are the "real problem"? Does the buck stop at 50 Phelan Ave or Sacramento? It can't stop at both places.

Yes, cuts have been stressful to the CA Community College system, but all 112 colleges have endured similar cuts. None seem to have driven as far into the ditch as CCSF. Why is that?

Your suggestion that only some of the Accreditation Commission's recommendations are legit is wildly irresponsible. One reason CCSF faces closure is that the institution responded to select recommendations made in 2006 and ignored others. In case you've missed the point: ALL of the Commission's recommendations must be addressed if CCSF is to maintain accreditation; it's not up to you to pick and choose.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 9:59 am

So why is every other community college in the state not in a position that CCSF is in? Because people, you Chris Jackson, keeps saying add more classes and don't cut anything when every other college in the state cut back. Further, you're on record saying not to put any money in the college reserve. Spend, spend, spend it all. I know how we got in this mess. These problems didn't exist before you were on the board...

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

$46 per credit hour?!?! And people are bitching about paying that!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

I'm really just starting to educate myself on this issue and there's a lot I don't know that my change my perspective in various ways. But what I can say is that administration is not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, there are bloated administrations and bureaucracies, but anyone that has worked in an understaffed organization can tell you how inefficient and hemorrhaging it can be. Administrators process checks, pay bills, ensure financial accountability, make sure facilities aren't double booked, make sure facilities are kept in good condition, apply for grants, secure alternative funding, hire new staff, avoid lawsuits, keep computers running, keep information up-to-date and accurate, and on and on. 90,000 students is not nothing. It's huge! It takes a lot of back end work to keep an organization that serves that many individuals running. Often, damaging cuts are necessary, but a reactionary, "Always cut administration over teachers" policy is shortsighted. There's few professions I respect more than teachers and there's few things (maybe nothing) that I want to see receive increased funding more than education. But rhetoric only gets us so far.

Posted by Matthew T on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 8:46 am

Your article is the result of being late to the meetings and not reading documentation. Please Chris, don't use City College for your own personal POLITICAL AMBITION. We have so many students and staff whose jobs and lives will be affected. City College was a mess because people like you don't know how to respect procedures and processes. Don't blame it solely on budget cuts because other neighboring colleges are doing well with the same cuts we are suffering now.

The Accreditation Committee saw our flaws and mistakes. We need to correct those mistakes. Don't use us.... I beg you.

Posted by Shameless on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 11:45 am

I've been toiling at CCSF for over a decade now. Great instruction, hard working students, a lot of good things going on. Then there is the business end of it; they really take all the fun out of dys-fun-ctional. A "shared-governance" system that involves a lot of meetings and input and sucks hours of time and results in decisions for which no one is personally responsible. A hiring system that takes so long that the best candidates frequently accept employment elsewhere before the hiring committee comes to a decision. Website consultants who suck hours of staff time for feedback which basically means giving the attendees a choice of a blue and green theme and the winning oxblood and pumpkin, and then claim that the employees liked the design. Huh?
Management seeks to curry favor with board members, who have traditionally used the Board of Trustees as a stepping stone to other elected positions. Trustee John Rizzo's name kept popping up in the news, uncovering the dramatic and non-existent identity theft problem at CCSF, and the dramatic and non-existent secret of non-instructional funds (these funds student support activities and have never been a secret). "What's he gonna run for?" I wonder. Oh, okay, he's running for the District 5 city supervisor spot. That explains that.

Our students deserve better.

Posted by friscomama on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

The Board of Trustees needs to be dumped, every one of them, and the college by-laws need to be changed to make the BOT selected by the college, not a political office that seems to only attract people with no background in education. Jackson and company were alerted to many of these problems six years ago and did little to nothing. Instead, it trotted out worn-out ideological disputes in the name of "student equity." The Chancellor is stating firmly that "we can't blame this on funding" and yet here goes Jackson again. If these are the clowns who are supposed to fix the system, the city is in some serious trouble.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 9:46 am

In Spring 2012 Trustee Jackson personally forced the ESL Dept. to offer classes at additional sites when he was aware that we offered similar classes a few blocks away and that we had no guarantee that these new classes would fill. He claimed that he had made promises to community agencies. Of course the classes didn't fill and and were cancelled, and the adjunct faculty who were scheduled to teach them lost the hours. A lot of time and money went into meeting his misguided demands. This is only one example of his profligacy with money and his style of governance. He also became personally involved in bullying the English Department into allowing under-prepared students into higher courses in the name of "equity."

Why couldn't he apply this level of micro-management to reviewing the college budget and making sure it isn't over-spent? He voted to spend down the reserve.

San Franciscans, please don't ever vote for this man for anything again.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

Is Chris Jackson speaking for the Board or for himself when he says, "We will never shrink away from that mission."

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

@ Chris, Let's be clear, the buck stops with the elected Board of Trustees you write. The President and The Board of Trustees are the main cause for the CCSF Meltdown due to mismanagement, as " The Chancellor is stating firmly that "we can't blame this on funding" as some people would like to misdirect and blame.
As the current Board of Trustees seem incapable of overseeing CCSF in a viable an effective manner. They need to be replace with a competent board, selected on merit not political ambitions.

Posted by DavidinSF on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

Starting with Berg and Wong.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 1:53 pm

More appropriately should be the 3 stooges Moe "NGO", Larry "RIZZO" and Curly "JACKSON" and wasn't it Ngo who bullied the English Department resulting in a petition drive to get rid of him? Of course, the President Rizzo didn't call to order the ruckus caused (April 26 meeting). Jackson cried more than once at board meetings when things didn't go is way!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 1:45 am

There are approximately 119 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) administrators at CCSF: full-time administrators; Classified Administrators (such as IT personnel; laboratory directors, and many others); plus department chairs with reassigned time to work on administration. The shared governance system was imposed on the community colleges by the State about 20 years ago. CCSF is so big and complex that hiring conventional administrators seemed wasteful: the system the college devised was reasonable and has worked well. We have had some good Board of Trustee members and some poor, even harmful. I think the problems facing the college now are the result of lack of funds -- Prop 13 has finally come home to roost. People who want to privatize education see a golden opportunity or a golden goose, to push the metaphor. Best, Ellen

Posted by Guest Ellen Wall on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

Are you the same Chris Jackson who ran for Supervisor before your first term as Trustee was up? Are you the same Chris Jackson that got fired from the Labor Counsel? Are you the same Chris Jackson who recently got fired got fired from the Visitation Valley Community Center for being incompetent?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 1:06 am

Why not knock down some walls between classrooms in cloud hall and the science buidling, and turn those spaces into lecture halls? It would be much more efficient in a number of ways and would also create more of a college class atmosphere, in my opinion. I also think an elevator should be installed in the science building that will take people on to the roof because it's not right that handicapped people can't get there for their astronomy labs. Also, people need to quit trying to place blame on budget cuts as a reason to justify their incompetence and unprofessionalism.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

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