Faculty call for answers, not vague promises
For Immediate Release: June 7, 2017
Statement from the California Federation of Teachers
[The following statement was read and distributed during public comments at the ACCJC meeting in San Jose today.]
Accreditor’s accountability still the main issue
Ever since the Chancellor’s Accreditation Task Force revealed in 2015 that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is no longer widely accepted in its community, and does not meet the needs of California public higher education, faculty have been waiting for concrete action to move to a new accreditor.
After the California Community College Board of Governors endorsed the Task Force Report, and college presidents and chancellors formed two working groups—one to explore moving to a new accreditor, and the other to work with ACCJC to reform its practices and ensure fair accreditation in the interim—hopes were raised that change would follow promptly.
The one significant promising action taken by the commission was to finally restore full accreditation to City College of San Francisco earlier this year. However, the Commission’s illegal and destructive behavior toward City College since 2012 was but the single most egregious instance within a larger pattern of departures from fair and constructive accreditation practices.
Faculty listened carefully to interim President Richard Winn when he appeared before the CFT Community College Council on March 31. He said the ACCJC’s policies were under review and many would change. Winn promised a new day, one in which the ACCJC’s longstanding culture of intimidation would be replaced with a collaborative, constructive approach. He also said that specific changes would be made in the agency’s practices. These would include placing more faculty on visiting teams, a diminished role for SLOs, a withdrawal from agency interference in collective bargaining and colleges’ financial decision-making, a reduction in accreditation costs to colleges as well as simplification of excessive paperwork requirements, and reducing the number of eighteen-month accreditation extensions.
These ideas are long overdue, and the faculty present at that meeting were heartened by hearing them. Now we would like to know the specifics: what sort of input will faculty have into the design and implementation of these reforms, when will they be put in place, and what accountability measures will ensure that they will be more than fine sounding words—i.e., transparent, timely, and effective?
The CFT has been fighting for a fair and appropriate accreditation system—in court, at the US Department of Education, in the legislature, the media, and in the streets—ever since the ACCJC unfairly and unlawfully sanctioned City College of San Francisco in 2012. We would prefer to focus our energies on the classroom and delivery of quality education to the system’s two million students. But until California’s community college accreditation problems are fixed we will remain actively involved in the effort to improve them.
The California Federation of Teachers represents 120,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers. More info: www.cft.org.