Opinion: blame the budget cuts, not City College
By Becca Hoekstra
This summer I learned it sucks to have your school in the headlines.
By now, I’m assuming everyone knows that City College is facing a loss of accreditation. Losing accreditation would make our credits illegitimate and prevent the school from receiving federal funds.
The school has seven months to improve before the ban-hammer pummels City College out of the certified college circuit. Which doesn’t seem like a lot of time for those of us who are THIS CLOSE to a certificate or transfer. Talk about downright hair-pulling, teeth gnashing levels of frustrating. That goes to those just beginning their path at City College, too.
There is good news: the general assumption is that the school is “too big to fail” (finally, a place where that phrase isn’t monstrous). I mean, dang, if the largest school in the state and a population of 90,000 students isn’t worth saving, there’s a lot more problems facing our education system than I originally suspected. (And I suspect a lot.) It would be downright shameful if education and learning really mean so little that the school closes.
What baffles me is that City College is losing its accreditation status over the same reasons that I believe make our school awesome. The school is getting a lot of flack for, well, spending too much taking care of teachers.
It’s incredible that the college offers benefits to part-time staff and adjunct professors, and that it hasn’t scaled back on offering benefits to retired teachers. One doesn’t have to look far to find someone decrying the state of instructors’ salaries; City College is attempting to do it right, and somehow, that’s a negative.
The shared governance is coming under harsh consideration as well — but I can see the reasoning for this. With so many voices and lack of an all-controlling authoritative figure, it can be difficult to make quick and often difficult decisions that will move the school forward fast. But the school is called the Community College of San Francisco — and a variety of voices is central to that community. Will streamlining the decision process cost the school its soul? And is it worth it? I can’t make that call, and I’m an opinions writer.
There are certainly ways City College could improve. The technology in the school could use a serious upgrade — it feels like there’s never enough computers in the Rosenberg Library and the Counseling Center drives me up the wall with what feels like decade-long wait periods and frustratingly vague or overwhelmingly bureaucratic answers.
What really gets me, though, is that our school is facing criticisms of improper use of funds while the government that’s supposed to support it spends $9.6 billion on prisons and only $5.7 billion on higher education. City College’s overspending is not what’s killing us; it’s budget cuts proving that educating a new generation is not a top priority.
We have a commission that judges the way our school spends money. But the problem is not City College. It’s much bigger than that.