City College of San Francisco to Lose Accreditation

The City College of San Francisco Mission District campus. Photo by Mission Local staff.

The City College of San Francisco Mission District campus. Photo by Mission Local staff.

It was announced today that City College of San Francisco will lose its accreditation on July 31, 2014, a decision that compromises the reputation of the school, and one that has people wondering about the future of its students, faculty, staff and administrators.

“This is shocking news, and I think shocking for the whole CCSF community and San Francisco in general,” said Alisa Messer, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 and CCSF English instructor, of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College’s decision, in a teleconference call held this afternoon.

City College, the largest community college in California, is now the second in the state (behind Compton College in Los Angeles County) to have its accreditation revoked. Since the ACCJC provided CCSF in July of 2012 with 14 recommendations that, if followed, would help the institution come into compliance with accreditation requirements, faculty and staff have spent thousands of hours trying to comply. But the ACCJC stated in a letter sent to the college today that CCSF had not adequately addressed deficiencies that were outlined last year.

CCSF Trustee Rafael Mandelman, furious over the news, said that the decision is a violation of the public trust. “At the end of all of this, to reach this result is mind boggling,” he said.

Jim Mahler, president of the California Federation of Teachers Community College Council, said that the decision does nothing to improve instruction for students. “By pulling the accreditation from the City College of San Francisco, the commission has proven that they only exist to intimidate and coerce districts into doing what they want.”

In response to the decision, the CFT and AFT Local 2121 joined forces to issue complaints of more than 250 pages to the U.S. Department of Education. CFT President Josh Pechthalt hopes that the complaints will convince the department that the committee’s decision is outrageous. “I think that a full investigation of the committee will help to expose this decision as being unfair,” he said.

In the meantime, the CFT and AFT Local 2121 are consulting with attorneys about how to proceed in a challenging situation full of unknowns. One of their biggest concerns is that prospective students will decide not to attend the college because of the dark cloud of uncertainty that hovers above. Since last year’s threat of termination of accreditation, Messer said that there has been an exodus of faculty, administrators and staff and that the school has had no luck in finding a permanent chancellor. In addition, the large number of students deciding to leave the school or study elsewhere has cost CCSF millions of dollars.

“It has been a demoralizing experience,” Messer said. She noted that even though they are unable to predict what will happen in terms of challenges down the road and loss of positions currently held, one thing is for sure: “The quality of education at CCSF has never been in question,” she said. “It’s sound, and it remains sound.”

Pechthalt emphasized that the college will not give up without a fight. “The community of San Francisco has already mobilized around this, and we’re going to support those efforts,” he said.

Messer mentioned that a march is being planned for next Tuesday, and that while the college is appealing the accreditation decision, the entire community should stand up to ensure that the city doesn’t lose CCSF.

“We intend to defend our contracts and defend our faculty, even as we defend the college that we hold so dear,” she said.

9 Comments

  1. sidebyeach

    This article hit the nail on the head. This is a massive strong arm tactic to downsize CCSF. Trustee President Rizzo acknowledged that CCSF has fixed many of its problems this past year, and it was recently reported that the institution was budgeted to have a $2 million surplus by July 14, kept in special reserves, as requested by the ACCJC. So what do they want? My guess is they want CCSF to serve 30,000 instead of 85,000 students, so people can get their hands on some CCSF properties and have more students taking out loans. Student loans – the untapped corporate frontier!

    • johnny

      What if CCSF were to break into a few different colleges within the same district, not unlike CSM and Skyline?

  2. CWWSF

    seems odd to me that the school had a check list of things to fix, a year or more to get it done or show significant and they failed. I think students deserve better. You can blame corporations or banks or Mitt Romney if you like but the college wasn’t up to spec and now still isn’t up to spec… Should that just be ignored?

  3. PackofLies

    Sad that City College may be closed. If it happens, what happens with the building on Bartlett / Valencia?

  4. This so-called “accreditation” authority has revealed its bias in favor of privatized vocational education for the low income students of our city. The citizens of the city demonstrated we valued something better by passing a tax measure last fall. So what did these “accreditators” want to do with the money? They demanded the college hide it away in a “rainy day fund” rather than for improving our institution.

    What’s some unelected, private outfit doing being allowed to make these decisions? We didnt elect them. We elected a Board — maybe not the world’s best Board, but a Board accountable to us. These people are stealing our city college.

  5. tessa

    -On Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 4 pm, there will be a march from City College’s Downtown Campus (88 4th Street and Mission) to the US Department of Education offices (50 Beale St) to protest the ACCJC decision.
    -From what I’ve read, the college has complied with requested changes, and this ruling came out of the blue.
    -More info here: http://www.saveccsf.org/save-ccsf-coalition-rejects-legitimacy-of-accjc-ruling/

  6. David Hurwich

    I’m a teacher at the CCSF Mission campus. The ACCJC has MANY conflicts of interest, having many members sitting on the boards of University of Phoneix, DeVry and other for profit schools that will benefit if City College goes down.

    If you can please attend the march on July 9th at 4pm.

    David Hurwich

Comments are closed.