City College fights back - Page 3

Were CCSF budget decisions irresponsible, or principled resistance to the downsizing of California's community colleges?

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City College of San Francisco is being threatened by an accreditation commission.
PHOTO BY BETH LABERGE/SF NEWSPAPER CO

"Despite that large and somewhat intentional reduction, we still serve 20,000 annually throughout the city. By comparison with our very large ESL Department, the English Department serves only 7,000," Lopez said. "How could we abandon those who are most educationally needy and often desperately poor in favor of those who are less needy?

"We need to step up adult education across the board," she said. "The problem is all the pressure to do less and to fund less of this type of education."

 

SMOTHERED ON ALL SIDES

The accreditation commission is an independent body, but it's been pressured too.

"In the current climate of increased accountability, our regional accrediting associations find that tight spot to be more like a vice," a commission newsletter said in 2006. "On one side are forces at the national level ready to throw out regional accreditation in favor of a federal approach; while at the local level, they are faced with institutions resistant to rapid change and increased scrutiny."

In the past year, private entities ponied up thousands of dollars to help usher in a new numbers-based approach to education. In 2011, a 20-member body comprised of public and private representatives was charged with evaluating the community college system.

Called the California Community College Student Success Task Force, its creation was mandated by the state, but to many people it reeked of privatization.

Several private organizations funded the task force's work, including the Lumina Foundation, an educational research and grant-making institution with ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a controversial lobbying group for private interests that authored the Stand Your Ground gun law.

By fall 2011, students, faculty, and administrators across the state began to question the task force's methods and recommendations, which initially included proposals to cut many non-credit and enrichment courses, restrict financial aid, prioritize transfer students, and cap the number of units one person could take.

Under the veil of increasing so-called "student success," the task force was asking schools to prioritize limited funds and change their missions to once again become "junior" colleges — a fate that City College has refused to accept.

City College's Board of Trustees passed a resolution in November 2011 opposing the task force, nearly unanimously, with Ngo the sole dissenting vote. Then-Chancellor Don Griffin warned that the task force's agenda was a transparent attack on open access that would disproportionately affect poor people and people of color, imploring the board to reject its recommendations.

"They're talking about taking over the vehicle of community colleges and turning it into something else," Griffin said. "We have to take a hard stand because everybody around the state is watching City College of San Francisco."

Students and faculty at City College joined the fight. They spoke out at Board of Governors meetings in Sacramento. They wrote letters, emails, and scathing editorials. The school's student-run school newspaper, The Guardsman, led a statewide campaign opposing the task force.

Despite the public's concerns, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors adopted the task force's final report in January.

"As wonderful as open admissions is, if it's a false promise to an objective, it fails," Peter MacDougall, Board of Governors member and task force chair, said at the January meeting.

"Our objective is to have that promise realized, that's what the recommendations are intended to achieve."

Ultimately, the initiative succeeded, shifting priority enrollment to students who are freshly in the college system. The Task Force report is now Senate Bill 1456, sponsored by Sen. Alan Lowenthal and commonly known as the Student Success Act of 2012.

 

Comments

Thank you so much for this great article. I have taught at CCSF much of my life; my daughter is a graduate; I live across the street from the college amid neighbors who are both students and employees. CCSF contributes greatly in making San Francisco the wonderful place it is -- a highly educated workforce; a city that supports the arts, both as performers and audiences. In this story the villain is the private accreditation system that appears to be in the control of people who want to kill public education. Ellen Wall, English Department

Posted by Guest Ellen Wall on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for a well-witten article about what is happening to City College of San Francisco and to public education in general. Like many immigrants, when I immigrated to San Francisco with only a few hundred dollars to pay for a month's rent, and badly needing English as a Second Language classes, City College of San Francisco was there to receive me with open arms. Thirty-six years later an ESL instructor myself at City College I now welcome my ESL students as well. Immigrants come from different walks of life and they contribute so much to this country. Thank you again for setting the record straight.

Carmen Roman-Murray
ESL Instructor, CCSF

Posted by Guest Carmen Roman-Murray on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for a well-written article about what is happening to City College of San Francisco and to public education in general. Like many immigrants, when I immigrated to San Francisco with only a few hundred dollars to pay for a month's rent, and badly needing English as a Second Language classes, City College of San Francisco was there to receive me with open arms. Thirty-six years later an ESL instructor myself at City College I welcome my ESL students as well. Immigrants come from different walks of life and they contribute so much to this country. Thank you again for setting the record straight.

Carmen Roman-Murray
ESL Instructor, CCSF

Posted by Guest Carmen Roman-Murray on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

I spent four years at CCSF and transferred to UC Davis last year. I now live in Davis and am graduating next year with a BS in Biological Sciences. I know that some people might believe that four years might have been a drain on our society, but that's how long it took me to move on. CCSF is all about exploring, and the various classes that are available serve students as a gauge as to what route they want to take in life.

CCSF is probably one of the most important institutions in the city, and this stems from the fact that students get the chance to change their lives around. Forget about youth programs, about seminars, about money being spent elsewhere. This is the place California must spend. This is where people like myself who hadn't bothered to graduate high school were influenced by wonderful instructors and encouraged by various faculty to preserver.

CCSF is worth all of the money that is being spent and more. My goal is to return to CCSF one day to teach Bio. My intro Bio instructor was a CCSF student as well, many years ago, who continued on to Stanford. He believed in the system so much that he returned to teach, and that's what I intend on doing. The science programs at CCSF prepare students to transfer to the UC system and that's very impressive given the miniscule budget it receives compared to the UC system.

Posted by Guest Seth Abramson on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

Living near Cuesta College, and watching the drama unfold there with this process, one can't help but wonder if we can't find a better way to prove an institution is serving its students. While all of the institutions with sanctions against them could stand a little improvement (what institution couldn't stand some improving), I find myself wondering if it really is as dire as the accrediting body makes it out to be. And, how many more institutions will join them in sanctions, as the funding continues to be cut, with no end in sight to the financial woes?

Here's a radical thought I've had for a while - let those who can afford to pay more do so, and leave the rest alone. Those of us who participate in adult education and enrichment activities, who CAN pay more, should certainly be able to help out versus those who can't. Our community colleges also need benefactors like never before, and yet get passed over by so many in favor of the arguably more visible, more "prestigious" state colleges and universities. Maybe it's time to look closer to home again for where to send our money when the time comes to donate.

Posted by Guest K. Sargen on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 8:56 am

This seems to be the first, in-depth, intelligent article on this topic.

I've read the accreditation report, and it consistently praises the faculty, the academic programs, and the school's commitment to the community. The probation status has little to do with the quality of education, and mostly about lack of funds from the State and the problems ensuing from that. The same accreditors recently pulled the accreditation from Oakland's Patten College, a private nonprofit Christian school, for "relying too much on tuition." It's now being taken over by a for-profit, online school. And this somehow serves the community?

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/07/10/accreditors-decision-shows...
Inside Higher Ed

Posted by Guest San Franciscan on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 9:59 am

This seems to be the first in-depth, intelligent article on what's happening at CCSF. I've read the accreditation report, and it consistently praises the academic standards, the faculty and the college's commitment to the community. The college seems to be getting a beating primarily for the lack of state funding, and the problems ensuing from that.

The same accreditors recently put Oakland's Patten College, a private, nonprofit Christian College, on probation, not because of the quality of education, but partly because of its "heavy tuition dependence." (?) Patten is now being taken over by a for-profit online school. How does this serve the community?

The accredition agency seems to care little about education, but rather, only about how fat the surplus at the institutions are. It's enough to make us wider who they're really serving.

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/07/10/accreditors-decision-shows...
Inside Higher Ed

Posted by Guest San Franciscan on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 10:07 am

Sorry for the typo. "wonder," not "wider."

Posted by Guest San Franciscan on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 10:20 am

Thank you for a great article about adult education in California. I just have a correction to the article, in particular the point about how "adult education used to be integrated into K-12 districts." It is true that adult schools in pre-K-Adult districts have taken serious hits in funding, and some schools have closed, but there are still many others that are alive and well today as part of California school districts.

The author further suggests that community colleges have taken over the responsibility of serving adults in California. In point of fact, although community colleges and adult schools provide similar services, San Francisco and parts of San Diego are the only communities in the state that have been solely served by community colleges. Adult schools have been in operation in California since 1856, and are important institutions in the areas they serve. Both community colleges and adult schools have critical roles in ensuring successful workers, families and communities. Let's work together to provide the best education possible for Californians.

Posted by Christine Berdiansky on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

Thank you Christine for your comment regarding the bifurcated adult education system that currently exists in California. Part of the problem is that there is no holistic way to even discuss adult education because some programs are part of the community college district while others are part of their respective K-12 districts. What few understand is that those adult education programs housed in K-12 districts are at risk of closing because they exist only if their local school boards deem them of value to their local areas. If they decide they are not, they can "sweep" their funds and use them as they see fit and there is nothing the students of adult education or their instructors or administrators can do. This is legal. It is called "categorical flexibility" and it has had the unintended consequence of closing over 66 adult schools in the state. Adult education is where newcomers learn English and gain citizenship classes, and where adults who did not graduate high school go back to pick up the pieces. It is also where significant numbers of adults go for job training and computer skill education. Older adults go to keep active and parents go to learn parenting skills. Community education enriches the entire community with low-cost alternatives to expensive for-profit classes. Closing adult schools is bad for everyone, especially the K-12 students that the districts are pledged to serve. When their parents cannot raise income by increasing their skill set, it is a burden on the families and the communities. But with the fox in charge of the hen house it is no wonder there are less hens.

Posted by Loredana Carson on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

Thank you for the first article on this situation that talks about some of the hidden agendas that are playing out in the attack on community colleges in California. Have you looked into the controversies that have been engendered by some of the prior sanctions that the ACCJC has brought against other schools? And look into the connections between the president of ACCJC, Barbara Beno, and George W. Bush's Spellings Commission, which laid the ground work for this movement toward privatization of higher education. For example, here is an article from the MIT faculty newsletter: http://web.mit.edu/fnl/volume/204/king.html.

There is also lots of history between Beno and other community colleges in California -- for example the Peralta Community College District, from which she was fired: http://goo.gl/LLpeb.

Posted by Eric Noble on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

Thank you for the first article on this situation that talks about some of the hidden agendas that are playing out in the attack on community colleges in California. Have you looked into the controversies that have been engendered by some of the prior sanctions that the ACCJC has brought against other schools? And look into the connections between the president of ACCJC, Barbara Beno, and George W. Bush's Spellings Commission, which laid the ground work for this movement toward privatization of higher education. For example, here is an article from the MIT faculty newsletter: http://web.mit.edu/fnl/volume/204/king.html.

There is also lots of history between Beno and other community colleges in California -- for example the Peralta Community College District, from which she was fired: http://goo.gl/LLpeb.

Posted by Eric Noble on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

Thank you for the first article on this situation that talks about some of the hidden agendas that are playing out in the attack on community colleges in California. Have you looked into the controversies that have been engendered by some of the prior sanctions that the ACCJC has brought against other schools? And look into the connections between the president of ACCJC, Barbara Beno, and George W. Bush's Spellings Commission (initiated by one of Bush's wealthy investor cronies), which laid the ground work for this movement toward privatization of higher education. For example, here is an article from the MIT faculty newsletter: http://web.mit.edu/fnl/volume/204/king.html.

There is also lots of history between Beno and other community colleges in California -- for example the Peralta Community College District, from which she was fired: http://goo.gl/LLpeb.

Posted by Eric Noble on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

Sorry for the triplicate posting. The Captcha message came up three times without posting my message.

Posted by Eric Noble on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

Thanks for a great, truthful and positive article about City College! I think that readers need to be aware that a lot of the problems that the community colleges in California are facing are politcally motivated. Many of the demands that are being placed on faculty, staff and administrators are violations of title five and the ed code and many of the the accreditation standards that we are accused of not meeting are actually violations of federal law.

I have been working at City College for nearly 30 years. Always for the betterment of our students, College and Civic Community. I have never seen such blatant misuse of public systems to further individual and corporate agendas as I have these last three years.

Posted by Guest Steven Brown on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

Nanette Asimov, hang your head in shame. Joe Fitzgerald has written rings around you on this issue.
Mandating City College to stop serving the poorest and neediest students accurately reflects the corporate values currrently in ascendancy that have forced so many public schools and public institutions to the brink. The U. of Phoenix CEO, reading about CCSF's woes, chortles and rubs his greedy hands together in anticipation of windfall profits. The television is now lousy with U. of Phoenix ads. Disgusting.
Ed Murray

Posted by Ed Murray on Jul. 22, 2012 @ 6:29 am

First let me state, that I love City College- went there for a period of time and got some great classes that really helped me out. Dollar for Dollar, best education around in SF.

Now- that being said, City College of SF, is not without it faults and while much of the budgetary issues can be blamed on the state- CCSF does share some of that.

1. For a school that serves a community 49 square miles it has WAY too many campuses and sites. etc. I can understand wanting to have classes that are located around the City making them more accessible- yada yada yada, but seriously given our current budget issues do we really need to have a site in every single neighborhood? On it's website CCSF lists 12 campus locations- this is in addition to whatever classrooms it rents or uses from SFUSD or others. This all costs money to maintain, make them accessible, etc.

2. While as the authors put it, CCSF tried to make a statement that recent CCSF budgets were a princiopled resistance the CCSF board had a fiscal and moral responsibility to the taxpayers and the public to be fiscally responsible and it looks like they choose to ignore these responsibilities.

Posted by D.native on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 11:48 am

Thanks for this article on City College. The Bay Guardian continues to support the best commentary on the city of San Francisco. The city is slowly being leeched by wealthy power brokers keen on its "manhattanization", "corporatization", and future as a sanctuary for the rich. Unfortunately, restructured urban planning zones, high rise development, loft development, and the eviction of the lower-income, black and immigrant populations is only the backdrop to what now seems an even greater effort on the part of corporatized educational thinking to undermine the very bedrock, social, political and educational fabric of this great city. It is the fundamentally flawed thinking of accreditation bodies keen on getting statistics on student outcomes, that education has to have any outcome at all! Education is not a linear process and, arguably, possesses a value in and of itself which extends beyond how the student can ultimately be "used" by the market - a position on the student with which corporate administrations shape their entire platform. City College is, like low-rise architecture, the very essence of what makes San Francisco an outstanding urban center unlike other urban centers where the lower income person, the adult student, the student seeking to try out subjects before committing to one career orientation, can flourish without spending buckets on tuition.

Unfortunately, unless City Hall and the Board of Supervisors really pays attention to the people, and not to the real estate moguls, Republican conservatives, wealthy minority seeking to grab the city, the land, the resources all for themselves, San Francisco will become a sanctuary for the rich and a place cleansed of its real substance. A place of expensive condos, restaurants, elitism and its baggage.

Free and affordable education for all in a free society. Otherwise, we remain slaves to ignorance, intolerance, and the whims of a financial minority.

Molly Hankwitz, PhD.
University of the Commons
http://uotc.org

Posted by Guest Molly Hankwitz on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 10:52 am

Even if you can't vote, you CAN register others to vote. Time to get everyone registered to vote YES on CA Prop 30 and SF local tax.

Need to inform and educate for SF parcel tax on the fall ballot which directly benefits CCSF. These are real dollar solutions, but will need significant voter support in both SF and California.

If you or anyone you know has ever benefited from a CCSF class, then consider giving your real bodily support to help explain the situation and register voters. Also asking everyone to come out and document their support for CCSF with your personal story.

from Ballotpedia:
Prop 30: "Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years. Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges."

Facebook event page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/336038799815636/

Facebook CCSF page to Save the School
https://www.facebook.com/groups/445019278865649/

Posted by CCSF Student & SF Citizen on Aug. 03, 2012 @ 2:24 pm