Save City College of San Francisco!

From the new March-April 2013 issue of News & Letters:

Save City College of San Francisco!

San Francisco–What is happening at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is something even the most avid conspiracy theorist would find hard to imagine.

Until July 2, 2012, the college had never received any sort of sanctions from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). In fact, in 2007, the New York Times named CCSF as one of the top 11 community colleges in the nation. Then suddenly, on July 2, the ACCJC issued the most serious of three possible sanctions, an order to show cause (why the college should not be closed).

In response, CCSF met the recommendations of the Commission, and in November San Francisco voters passed Prop. A, which led to a projected $16 million in funding. But then, in the same month, under the new interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman, a more than $10 million budget gap appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. The more than $26 million in funds presently unaccounted for are called the “Scott-Skillman Gap.”

It is now clear that more is going on than meets the eye. It appears that major decisions are being made behind closed doors, with no accountability. The plan seems to be to dismantle the legacy of FDR’s New Deal, of which CCSF was a creation. At CCSF, that means transforming the college into a school for narrow job-training, especially for the tech industry, or a feeder school for four-year colleges, and to end the whole concept of lifelong learning.

Education for working-class and minority people is largely being abandoned. This goes along with the recent deregulation of for-profit schools and the war on public education in general. Though it is only one of six regional accreditation commissions, the ACCJC accounts for 89% of sanctions issued nationwide between 2003 and 2008.

One important question also arises: what kind of accreditation does the ACCJC have, what is their authority based on? Though it supposedly operates under federal and state authority, ACCJC claims to be independent of government; in other words it is a private organization. It is really a form of regulatory control which appears to have been hijacked by industry. A big fight is brewing, and hundreds of students have joined the movement to save CCSF.

On Feb. 21, after a noon rally on Ram Plaza, students occupied the CCSF administration building all night. Expect big changes and a powerful movement in the future.

–D. Chêneville

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