City College fights back - Page 4

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

City College of San Francisco is being threatened by an accreditation commission.


As everyone waits with crossed fingers hoping for a favorable outcome at the ballot in November, City College officials are fighting keep the school open.

"Do we alter our mission slightly, or fundamentally? It's not clear yet what we're going to do," Ngo said.

The trustees have until October to present the commission with a plan and then until March to prove they can achieve it. In the meantime, the commission requires that preparations be made for potential closure, which Interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher and other CCSF officials say won't happen.

Only two other community colleges received a "show cause" order this year: College of the Redwoods and Cuesta College. Yet as of January, 25 percent of California's community colleges are under sanctions, according to the accreditation commission documents.

Federal funding hinges on the certification and other educational institutions, such as the University of California and the California State University systems, only accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions.

Everyone seems to agree that City College is too big to fail — with more than 90,000 students, it's the largest community college in the nation — but how it will look and operate in the future remains unknown.

City College already cut dozens of classes this year — including many with students already enrolled after the spring semester began. But City College isn't alone in its plight.

Santa Monica Community College caused an uproar earlier this year when it proposed charging more for popular classes. As of July 1, classes cost $46 per unit but under Santa Monica's proposal students would pay $180 per unit for courses in high demand.

When students protested this two-tiered payment system in April, police pepper-sprayed them, just five months after UC Davis students received the same brutal treatment for holding a non-violent Occupy-style action against their own tuition hikes.

"What we see is a move towards privatization, in the sense that we are now expecting students to pay a larger share of the cost," Plank said. "Over certainly the last 40 years, California has been steadily disinvesting in post secondary education." Whether tuition increases at the CSUs and UCs in the near future depends on whether voters approve Brown's tax proposal this November. City College's financial future hinges not only on the governor's tax proposal, but a local parcel tax initiative as well. City College needs both to pass in November just to break even. "A lot of San Francisco's workforce is educated at City College," City College board member Chris Jackson said, adding that for poor and working class people, it's the only affordable option. In addition, as veterans return from foreign conflicts, ex-offenders are released from prison and enrollment capped at the state universities, Jackson said, "We need local investment in City College."

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