Tag Archives: City College

The Continuing Saga of SF City College

by Brian Leubitz

San Francisco’s City College is massive. Despite SF’s population being just over 800,000, there were over 56,000 students enrolled in the system in the spring semester, with over 37,000 as undergraduates. But, despite that success in providing services to the community, times aren’t always easy for the district. They’ve been in an accreditation fight for the last few years, with the hammer coming down in early July:

Beset by mismanagement and unable to convince overseers that it had repaired extensive problems, City College of San Francisco will lose its accreditation a year from now and its elected Board of Trustees will be stripped of decision-making powers, the college learned Wednesday.

The decision by an accrediting commission allows the college of 85,000 students – among the largest in the country – to stay open until July 31, 2014, unless an appeal is successful or if the college can make enough progress to win an extension. (SF Chronicle)

The Board of Trustees has already been stripped of their powers and replaced by Special Trustee Bob Agrella. (You can read an interesting Q&A with him at EdSource http://www.edsource.org/today/… Where it all goes is still up in the air, with appeals still pending to the accreditation board, the ACCJC.

But now that very accreditation committee is under fire, and under a federal “Show Cause” order for violations of regulations and procedures.

In a delicious turnabout, the federal Department of Education has threatened to yank the accreditation of the ACCJC, the agency that is trying to shut down City College.

The move came in response to complaints by the California Federation of Teachers that the ACCJC is out of control and has failed to follow federal guidelines for site visits, conflicts of interests and other areas.(Tim’s SF)

You can read the full letter here http://www.saveccsf.org/wp-con… but it’s pretty technical. In the end, it doesn’t say that the committee is really “out of control” as Tim Redmond calls it above, but it does cast some of the same worrying tones that the ACCJC’s reports about City College used.

Look, City College clearly has some rather big issues. The finances are still in question, and one or more of the facilities may be closed by Agrella and his team as they work with interim Chancellor Dr. Thelma Scott-Skillman. But the system provides a quality education for thousands of San Franciscans every year, and the accreditation committee got this one wrong.

The DoE’s ruling on the ACCJC does not directly impact City College’s fight to keep their accreditation, but as Tim points out, it just may change a few minds there.

The Embarrassing State of SF’s City College

Over at the Bay Guardian, G.W. Schulz has a story about another investigation at City College.

The Guardian learned that just days before the November 2005 election, in which City College asked voters for $246.3 million in bond money to continue a series of capital works projects, the office of Vice Chancellor Peter Goldstein received a letter from investigators requesting detailed information about a land transaction that took place in Chinatown earlier that year.

At least three of the school’s elected trustees don’t recall being informed by Chancellor Phil Day about the probe, setting off new concerns after we alerted officials about the letter, which the Guardian obtained. The DA’s Office is also investigating potential laundering of public funds into campaign donations by college officials in connection with that bond campaign.(SFBG 8/8/07)

And that’s not all. There is another ongoing investigation pending at City College. Back in 2005, City College officials allegedly used a $10K lease payment for a campaign for some more bonds.  This is not the way for a community college to be run, or for that matter, any organization to be run.

There seems to be a complete lack of transparency, and much of it for little reason other than they don’t feel the need to bother. City College is rarely covered in the press, and scandals have barely made a ripple in even this overtly political city.  Personally, I don’t want to opine on the long-term viability of Phil Day as Chancellor, that is for the elected trustees.  However, I don’t recall is simply not a good enough answer. There needs to be a frank and open discussion about what is best for San Francisco’s educational needs in general and City College specifically.

And furthermore, beyond transparency, we need a more visible election. I know trustee elections are small potatoes, but we must do more to ensure that they are not ignored. The future of City College is too important to be left to chance.