CITY COLLEGE’S ACCREDITATION CRISIS

THE EDITORIAL YOU WON’T READ IN THE CHRONICLE

In the past three years, City College has lost $53 million in funding.

Its had three different chancellors.

At the same time, the state Accrediting Commission has come down on the institution by making 14 very difficult demands upon the college. Among those demands, it criticizes the college’s inability to stay within its ever shrinking budget and insists that instructors develop better methods for measuring student learning outcomes. As though the odds weren’t overwhelming enough, it has repeatedly threatened to close the college if its demands are not met within an extremely short time span.

Sound a little unrealistic? Most of those who work there think so. After all, they’re the ones who — after pay cuts and layoffs — are expected to pick up the slack and work harder, longer hours for less pay and fewer benefits. They are the ones who are required to put in extra hours without compensation. Not exactly a model incentive program.

In the meantime, City College teachers, staff and students have taken a beating in the press. The San Francisco Chronicle in particular has not reported the story in a fair and balanced way. Every story appears to be a news release from the Accrediting Commission or the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office. Teachers, staff and students have been given little opportunity to respond before the next barrage of negative attacks appears in the Chronicle.

On top of that, the college does not have a public relations department to offset the negative publicity. Talk about “the Perfect Storm” – that’s what the former state Community College chancellor gleefully called it, as though he was hoping the institution would fail.

Teacher and staff salaries have been cut. Curriculum has been cut. Our mission statement has been co-opted. There’s the threat of closure. And that’s suppose to improve our venerable community college system?

Ask yourself these questions: If City College is forced to close by the Accreditation Committee and the state Chancellor’s office, what purpose does that serve? Hate to use a cliché, but isn’t that the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

If City College is forced to close, who is going to train and educate the City’s cops and firefighters? Hotel and restaurant workers? Hospital nurses? Paramedics and EMTs? Lab techs? Dental technicians? Computer techs? Auto techs? The list is a mile long for those who receive their education and training here. Where are newly arrived immigrants going to learn English? Imagine the impact that this would have upon our community… Where are the more than 90,000 students who can’t get into or afford four years colleges going to go?

And where the hell is our Board of Supervisors and Mayor? Why aren’t they stepping forward to protect this venerable institution, which has proudly served the community for more than 75 years?

It’s a travesty wanting more for less from fewer faculty and staff while forcing crippling budgets cuts down their throats.

Most of the Accrediting Commission’s time consuming demands and unrealistic deadlines are not only ill-timed and ill-conceived, they’re practically impossible to meet. Yet they seem to relish having their foot on the throat of one of the City’s finest institutions — and the Chronicle seems to take glee in reporting their insensitive and inaccurate criticisms of those who have done an admirable job of educating its students under what anyone would describe as intolerable conditions.

It appears to be a wholesale attack on public education and the community college system. (Many other community colleges throughout the state have been put through the mill by the totalitarian authority of the state Accreditation Committee.

Perhaps the Accrediting Commission, the state Community College Chancellor, City College’s chancellor and board of trustees should take a look at themselves and the insensitive way they have handled this issue.

Like Cassius says: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

-Tom Graham

City College Journalism instructor

Former SF Chronicle reporter

Read Nanette Asimov’s response here: The San Francisco Chronicle has no agenda against CCSF

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