City College fights back - Page 4

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


AHEAD OF THE PACK

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."

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

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