Frequently Asked Questions
Is City College losing its Accreditation?
In July 2012, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) put CCSF on a sanction of “show cause” – one level from losing accreditation entirely – a death knell for a college. In July 2013, the ACCJC ruled that it will keep CCSF on “show cause” and furthermore, that CCSF will lose its accreditation in July 2014, unless through an appeal process, this decision is reversed.
In June 2013, the ACCJC had severed itself from the WASC (Western Association of School and Colleges) parent group thereby eliminating any objective agency above the ACCJC hearing an appeal. Now the appeal process is through the ACCJC.
The State Chancellor’s Office has removed CCSF’s elected Board of Trustees and appointed a Special Trustee with Extraordinary Powers. This Special Trustee’s job is to obtain accreditation for CCSF.
The Special Trustee with the CCSF administration is proceeding with the appeal process in the hopes that the ACCJC will reverse its decision.
In addition, the Save CCSF Coalition believes that we must exert political pressure to our elected officials to challenge the ACCJC and ask them to reverse their decision. San Francisco relies on CCSF for its social and economic health.
Why did the ACCJC sanction CCSF?
The ACCJC identified 14 recommendations for CCSF in July 2012, most stemming from huge state budget cuts that CCSF has suffered since 2008. Most people agree that CCSF has problems that need fixing, as all large institutions do. However, few thought that the problems identified by the ACCJC matched the severity of the sanction issued. Nonetheless, the college community hunkered down and did an enormous amount of work to address the problems. Although not all problems were completely resolved, the college was headed in the right direction and had done what the ACCJC had required, even when it violated long standing CCSF values. Virtually everyone was shocked that the ACCJC was not satisfied. Many are confused by the significant mismatch between the Visiting Team report conclusions and the Decision Letter from the ACCJC. Those mismatches are analyzed in this handout prepared by Karen Saginor, Academic Senate President from 2010-2013.
What is Accreditation?
The accreditation process provides assurance to the public that the accredited member colleges meets appropriate standards; the education earned at the institutions is of value to the student who earned it; and employers, trade or profession-related licensing agencies, and other colleges and universities can accept a student’s credential as legitimate.
Who is in charge of the Accreditation Process?
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) accredits associate degree-granting institutions in the Western region of the U.S. The ACCJC until very recently operated under the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), however, they have removed themselves from this body and are now an independent private entity. They are one of seven regional accrediting commissions in the nation authorized to operate by the U.S. Department of Education through the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
The ACCJC gets its funding from fees charged to the colleges they accredit. Additionally, they receive grants from private foundations, such as the pro-privatization Lumina Foundation.
Many in the higher education community believe that the ACCJC has become a rogue institution that is riddled with conflicts of interest and violations of their own policies. (See the report, ACCJC Gone Wild by Marty Hittleman.) There are also many in the higher education community that believe that the ACCJC violated federal and state law and that their determination of “show cause” sanction to CCSF must be challenged. (See CFT/AFT Third Party Comment/Complaint.)
If the problem stemmed from state budget cuts, what can we do? Aren’t we in a recession?
There are plenty of money sources to save CCSF and its mission. San Francisco is one of U.S.’s wealthiest cities and California is the 9th largest economy in the world. The State needs to tax the wealthy and the corporations more. Furthermore, the State has a problem with its priorities: It is first in spending for prisons and 49th in spending for higher education. Clearly this is upside down.
What is Prop A?
Proposition A, an annual parcel tax of $79 was placed on the November 2012 ballot. These funds were to be exclusively for CCSF. San Francisco voters passed it by an overwhelming 72.9%.
The ballot measure stated that the money would be used to provide City College with local funds the state can not take away and will guarantee City College can maintain core academic classes in writing, math and science; prepare students for 4-year universities; teach English to immigrants; and provide workforce training. The measure also stipulated independent audits and the establishment of a citizens oversight committee. The tax will expire after eight years.
CCSF’s Interim Chancellor announced that Measure A funds will not be used for educational purposes. The $1000+/day Special Trustee, imposed by the state, said that he does not feel confined to the ballot measure language. The Citizen’s oversight committee has yet to be established. This is a profound betrayal of the public trust.
Doesn’t CCSF pay too much in salaries? Don’t they misuse funds?
The Visiting Team’s Report actually stated many positive things about CCSF, including that there was no mis-allocated or stolen funds. The report also commended CCSF for its excellent educational programs. This is partly due to the quality faculty who have traditionally have been paid relatively well. The full time faculty were near the top of the pay scale for California Community Colleges and the part time faculty have pay and benefits that part time faculty at other community colleges envy (although it is still not equitable to CCSF full time faculty).
The current interim administration has imposed pay cuts such that this is no longer the case. In fact, many are worried about retaining high quality faculty in expensive San Francisco when their salaries are now near the bottom of the pay scale.
The figure of 92% of CCSF’s budget going to salaries, often quoted in the press, was never an accurate figure and is even further from the truth at this point in time.
Isn’t CCSF too big?
CCSF is big because it serves the educational and human needs of 85,000 students. (A few years ago it was over 100,000.) CCSF is critical to the economic health of San Francisco. Many CCSF graduates go on to work in the Bay Area’s restaurants, hospitals, police forces, fire forces, technology industries and more. CCSF also offers a wide range of programs and services to the diverse communities in San Francisco such as English classes for immigrants, enrichment classes for seniors, and programs for veterans and the formerly incarcerated.
CCSF needs more funding, not less. It is a vital institution for the quality of life in San Francisco.