Broad support for San Francisco City College in advance of January decision

Bay Area Congresswoman Jackie Speier convened a panel discussion at City College of San Francisco on November 28, her third on the topic since the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges revoked the accreditation of City College in 2013.

Speier pointed out that the people of San Francisco love their college, having just voted in November for a second parcel tax to support it, and passing Proposition W to make tuition free. She is “hopeful and optimistic” about the college’s future and defeating the ACCJC.

“We have spoken out loudly and clearly that their actions are reprehensible,” she said. “City College offers an outstanding education and the work done by students and professors has meant the attacks on the institution have not been successful.”

Another panelist, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who has authored successful state legislation to provide stabilization funding for the college, said many educational organizations, as well as community and government officials, have condemned the commission. But he cautioned that CCSF, in spite of this support, was still waiting for the ACCJC’s decision about restoration in January.

We have spoken out loudly and clearly that their actions are reprehensible. City College offers an outstanding education and the work done by students and professors has meant the attacks on the institution have not been successful.

AFT Local 2121 President Tim Killikelly asked the crowd to consider the absurdity of the ACCJC putting CCSF on “restoration status” while also asking for full compliance. No one knows what that means exactly, he says. It’s “quirky” according to the ACCJC’s president, Barbara Beno — and made up just for CCSF.

Killikelly says since there is no due process, this is illegal, and the idea of being judged by a group that has treated the college so unfairly leads to conversations where teachers ask him if one faculty member being late with Student Learning Outcomes would mean the entire college losing accreditation.

Killikelly called the commission’s actions spiteful and unfair, and says it’s not enough for Beno to retire, which she will do next June — a new accreditation agency is needed. The commission’s actions have severely impacted the college’s enrollment, which has gone from around having 100,000 students to between 60 and 70,000, he said, meaning a large loss of funding.

The president of nearby San Mateo Community College District, Mike Claire, talked about the harm the commission was doing to community colleges across the state and said 19 commissioners should not have the fate of the 2.1 million California community college students in their hands.

After more panelists spoke, some stellar City College programs were presented, including biotech, speech and debate, radiology, and diversity. The head of radiology, Diane Garcia, said that City College had given her a career and a life. The students in her program pay about $5,000 for their education — a fraction of what they would at private schools — and make over $100,000 right out of school. Speier said Garcia’s success and that of her students would make a great commercial for City College.

With the decision on the college’s accreditation expected in January, Killikelly said court is the only recourse to stay open if the commission decides the college somehow hasn’t achieved full compliance.

“We have good legal counsel,” he said. “And if that nightmare possibility occurs, we’ll be ready.”

— By Emily Wilson, CFT Reporter