Only we can save our school

By Becca Hoekstra

Everyone wants to save City College.

City College’s administration wants to rescue it through sacrifice and budget cuts. The coalition of teachers and students known as Save CCSF is fighting to keep everything in the school open and accessible. And the Accreditation Commission of Community and Junior Colleges is trying to save us from ourselves, I guess.

Both the administration and Save CCSF are trying their absolute best to do what they believe will save our school – though they disagree on how to do it. They appear to be working in opposition, but not through any fault of their own. It’s a matter of different values and how hard each of them are willing to fight. It’s a matter of status quo versus transformation.

To the administration, keeping our accreditation status is of the utmost importance, even if it comes at a steep price. To keep this revered status, they impose austerity under the guise of “resource management” which results in layoffs, class cuts, fewer counselors, consolidated departments – you know how long this list goes.

By keeping the shell of what our education facility used to be, the school can guarantee its future existence. Something is better than nothing. The accreditation commission demands cuts and consolidation? We must comply!

Students and teachers see the real impact of budget cuts – that less never equals more. Bowing to the accreditation commission – even if it means guaranteeing our accreditation – is not what’s best for our school.

I understand why the administration would give up anything to keep accreditation. They are fighting for the security of their livelihood and the school, for their jobs and the jobs of thousands of teachers, and potentially our own. Things we as students cannot possibly understand, because we probably haven’t been granted them yet – things we hopefully (or already) may be granted directly, thanks to our education at City College. (When we, too, have large salaries and job security, will we sacrifice as much to keep it?)

And I understand why so many teachers and students are upset with the accreditation commission. The accreditation process is just another arbitrary step in the educational bureaucracy – this system propped up entirely by its own self-importance, and not its effectiveness. Shutting down a massive, edifying facility like City College is the exact opposite of effectively educating.

The accreditation commission upholds the Capitol’s standards. Twenty percent of California’s schools don’t meet them. Even if those schools are doing exactly what the needs of their community call for, if they don’t fulfill the standardized, cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all requirements assigned to them from these almighty officials, they can’t be seen as worthy.

As a community college, the community – us – our diverse population of immigrants and city natives, our labor unions, our lifetime students, and every single one of our educated minds knows how to run our school best. Far better than some private agency that would threaten to close our school with almost no prior warning.

City College represents the radical notion that everyone – every single one of us – is capable of governing themselves and collaborating for the good of all – if granted our right to education and given the means to do so.

We can save City College.

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