City College's judges get judged

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S.F. EXAMINER PHOTO BY MIKE KOOZMIN

City College of San Francisco had its accreditation revoked by the Accrediting Commission of Junior and Community Colleges in July, and now the ACCJC is getting a taste of its own medicine — its own existence has been threatened over its treatment of City College.

In an Aug. 13 letter to ACCJC President Barbara Beno, the Department of Education found it out of compliance with the Education Secretary's regulations governing accrediting agencies, as well as the ACCJC's own internal rules.

"Therefore, we have determined that in order to avoid initiation of an action to limit, suspend or terminate ACCJC's recognition, ACCJC must take immediate steps to correct the areas of non-compliance in this letter," the letter reads.

The DOE found the ACCJC noncompliant in four areas: A conflict of interest because Beno's husband served on the visiting team that evaluated City College, no clear policies on who should serve on those teams (with the letter noting the teams were stacked with administrators rather than educators), no defined distinction between "deficiencies" and "recommendations" or indication of their severity levels, and failure to give CCSF two years to correct those deficiencies, as ACCJC policies call for.

Ironically, the ACCJC has plenty of time to correct its own shortcomings. "The process in this case is that ACCJC will have an opportunity to provide information about the steps it has taken to come into compliance with the cited criteria in its response to the draft staff analysis of the agency's petition for renewal of its recognition, which is currently under review," DOE spokesperson Jane Glickman told the Guardian, noting that there will be a hearing in mid-December, with possible actions ranging from limiting the agency's authority to giving it another year to come into compliance.

But she said the DOE can't directly help City College: "The Department does not have the authority to require an agency to change any accreditation decision it has made. The agency (ACCJC) needs to amend its policies and procedures and provide documentation that it follows its amended policies and procedures to demonstrate that it is in compliance with the cited criteria."

The California Federation of Teachers, which filed the appeal with the DOE, wants the ACCJC to reconsider its sanction of City College in light of these validated concerns over its process.

"We are gratified that the U.S. Dept. of Education agreed with us that the process was deeply flawed, and we call on the ACCJC to rescind its unprecedented decision to deny accreditation to CCSF," CFT President Joshua Pechthalt, wrote in a press release.

But ACCJC Vice President of Policy and Research Krista Johns told us that DOE's concerns were narrow and shouldn't affect its actions against City College:"The overall result of the US Department [of Education]'s analysis and study of the documents presented by the CFT about the ACCJC really affirmed that we are in compliance to a very large degree with all of the many regulations that touch on accreditors."

But it's still an open question whether the DOE's findings will affect the decision to revoke City College's accreditation and turn control over the institution to a state-appointed special trustee.

"We're still analyzing the letter. There's a lot in there," Paul Feist, spokesperson for the State Community College Chancellor's Office, told us. "I don't know if it could say there is any reprieve [for City College]. Regardless, there are a number of problems with City College that need fixing."

But even a cursory analysis of the letter reveals something that raises suspicions about the integrity of the entire process: the DOE letter raises concerns about why the ACCJC chose to go beyond its own policies to sock it to City College.

Comments

I'm glad CCSF has gotten some vindication. It is clear that while there might be problems at CCSF, the quality of education is stellar and the ACCJC clearly messed up. Unfortunately, the Special Trustee and the Interim Chancellor have no stake in CCSF's survival, they are not from San Francisco and in fact seem hostile to the values that we hold in our dear city, They'd like to see CCSF downsized and serve fewer, more elite students. We need to run the carpetbaggers out of town and get someone in charge who believes in CCSF's mission. Unfortunately, disaster capitalism is already at work, and no one, it seems, even the DOE can do anything to stop it. The people of SF need to rise up and say, "Keep your hands off of our school!"

Posted by Ricardo on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:52 am

applies in any way, shape or form to what is probably the lowest-grade college in the Bay Area.

And CCSF isn't "vindicated" by this at all. The fact that there might be some flaw with the panel doesn't mean that everything they judged is somehow magically 100% incorrect.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:12 am

Guest-- You are lying. CCSF rates in the top 10% of California community colleges, in every metric (transfer rates, completion rates, GPA, etc). CCSF equals or surpasses the other Bay Area community colleges in these metrics. CCSF education is indeed stellar.

The ACCJC report didn't attack the quality of education at CCSF. The report attacked its finances (too much money spent on classes, and not enough on painting buildings and buying the latest whizbang computer systems) and administration (as in, not enough administrators to get in the way of the teachers doing their jobs).

The ACCJC attacks CCSF's finances -- in a recession when millions of dollars in funding have been cut -- and wants CCSF to spend more on infrastructure, building maintenance, and computers.

The ACCJC is making contradictory demands that are impossible to meet. The only possible reason is that the ACCJC simply wants to close CCSF. Why else would all of the ACCJC's proceedings on this be secret, to the extent of shredding documents?!

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

colleges overall. And that makes it good and worth keeping?

CCSF's finances are shot but that is mostly to do with the unionized workforce and the expense of employee public sector workers with unsustainable pay and benefits. A smaller, privatized college would be far more viable.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

The LAST thing this planet needs is more private colleges to make worker slaves out of its young people.

City College is a treasure in this city and from what I see appears to need only some modest, achievable reform.

With the wealth gap growing at an astonishing rate in this country and in this city particularly, City College offers a much-needed and affordable place for people to start climbing the ladder and pursuing their dreams.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

It needs to pay it's own way

Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:33 pm

NOT to have City College.

It is a boost to the local populace and city in so many ways, including economic stimulus, and offers the possibility of a prosperous future to those in the community that need it most.

It more than pays its own way in real value.

As long as corporate welfare queens like Exxon and the big banks ($83 billion/yr!) continue to create the great need for such colleges we can more than "afford" city college--it will in fact remain a dire necessity.

City College is needed to offset the economic horrors going on in this city and country.

It is this corrupt corporate culture that we can no longer afford.

San Francisco/CA gets little money from the federal government any more for things like education because of the behavior of these corrupt corporate entities and their anti-American behavior (like tax cheat Apple). We could pay for City College out of the dropped pocket change Apple alone steals from the American people each year ($9 billion)

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

taxpayers have just ponied up even more taxes to throw at this black hole of uselessness.

But it sounds like you just want to rant, so carry on. But CCSF is still closing.

Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

is the surest sign you have lost the argument.

My own successful company pays a large amount in local, state, and federal taxes--and I know that City College is a good deal for me and my community.

I hope this valuable asset can be saved. They have set up a site.
http://www.saveccsf.org/

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:20 pm

This is the same shit and lies that Rodriguez Fitzgerald produced when he worked for the City College paper, The Guardsman to do fill in pieces. This man could not do a straight story if his name depended on it. One day his name is Joe Rodrigomez and the next day it is Joe Fitzgereald Rodriguez. When I ran for mayor of San Francisco, Rodrigroes Fitzgereald stonewalled two interviews that were supposed to be done on me, because he thought censorship and half truths was the road America was going down. And, since then his trash in the Guardian have been pure fill. Fitzgereald would not know a good story if one shot it to him with a cannon.

The story on City College is simply this: The institution had grown fat with over 1100 instructors, 50 committees and fat paychecks for all that were in the loop, with classes by dudes like Fred Glass who teaches unionism as a religion-I took his labor class and it only had three sign ups but still went forward-that it started to build more campuses while classrooms went empty. Remember Chancellor Phil Day, and the 30 felonies he was hit with for slush funds and contractor kickbacks. Well, he also censored fill story people like Rodriguez/Fitzgereald, who should actually work for a paper in Cuba or Russia, where this typle of journalism is normal. Day, after his good work here is now a director somewhere in Hawaii. Simply, City College was bankrupt, so they brought in a CEO that fired the board, the president and all the others with an "F" grade. And, It is too bad he did not fire Ridro/Fitzgeraldo, also. This is the real City College story.

Posted by Guest Emil lawrence on Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

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