News Releases

Today, the California Federation has issued the following statements:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 8, 2013
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Today, the California Federation has issued the following statements:

“We believe Chancellor Harris and the Board of Governors are interested in helping restore City College of San Francisco’s accreditation. The CFT will continue to support the City College community in its effort to restore accreditation but we are deeply troubled by a process that circumvents the democratically elected Board of Trustee’s of the College,” said Joshua Pechthalt, CFT President.

“City College has provided an outstanding and robust academic program for countless Bay Area residents for generations. This effort to restore accreditation must not be the pretext for punishing nor scapegoating students, faculty, staff and the San Francisco community,” said Pechthalt.

The following statement was presented before the California Community College Board of Governor’s Public Meeting Regarding ACCJC’s decision to deny accreditation to CCSF, by Monica Henestroza, Legislative Director, on behalf of the California Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO

“The CFT and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) local 2121 vehemently oppose the decision of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to deny accreditation to the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) effective July 2014.

“This punitive action by the Commission denying accreditation to CCSF, coming on the heels of numerous protests over serious conflicts of interest by the Commission’s president and other representatives, and violations of Federal and State law, reveals the extent to which the Commission is out-oftouch with its primary mission of working collaboratively with member colleges in order to assist them in meeting Federal requirements for the benefit of their students.

“The Commission needs to be opened up to a rigorous and thorough review of their approach to the accrediting process by our elected leaders and the government bodies responsible for overseeing the Commission. ACCJC’s decision to terminate CCSF’s accreditation is certainly its most appalling decision, but the entire California community college system has been
victimized by the high-handed, arbitrary and vindictive approach that has characterized the work of the Commission under its current leadership for the last decade.


 “Although we applaud Chancellor Harris and the Board of Governors for taking steps to appeal this unjust decision, we have both doubts and questions about the actions being taken today. Most notably, in the case of disaccreditation of Compton Community College District, the ACCJC determined that the College was in violation of Standard One because it did not have a functioning board of its own. In affirming its 2005 disaccreditation of Compton, the Commission specifically relied on the continued appointment of a special trustee to disaccredit, writing:


‘The Commission notes that the Chancellor chose to extend [the authority of the special trustee] in June 2005 rather than returning the operations of Compton to its Board of Trustees.’


 “Ultimately, we have a tremendous level of skepticism that the accreditation climate for California community colleges can normalize or that the educational futures of the Bay Area’s deserving students can be restored as long as ACCJC is allowed to continue operating with its current leadership and no effective oversight.

“Since last summer City College has turned itself upside down to address the ACCJC’s demands. Much has been achieved, but still CCSF, which has served so many so well, is now facing extreme risk of a completely unnecessary closure. More than 80,000 students would be denied access to the quality education CCSF provides.


“We are additionally concerned that today’s action by the Board of Governors will contribute to significant downward pressure on this fall’s enrollment. Without aggressive community outreach and a comprehensive public relations plan geared to bolster enrollment -- something the administration over the last year failed at miserably -- a downward spiral of enrollment decline followed by loss of funding leading to shrinking the number of course offerings and then fewer students, etc., could ensue.


“We hope that in the days and weeks ahead we will witness a new commitment to openness, transparency and accountability that will lead to a real inclusive process allowing for the many dedicated people at the college and throughout the Bay Area to lend their support and participate in a process of renewal and rebuilding of this vital California resource.

“The CFT and AFT 2121 believe a robust, thorough, and transparent accrediting process conducted by qualified and legitimate educators -- and that engages the entire education community -- is critical to developworkable short and long term strategies for strengthening academic achievement.

“We want CCSF to be an even stronger, better college. And we want an Accrediting Commission that follows state and federal law and its own policies and procedures and that works in partnership with its member institutions.”

The following statement was released by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt regarding the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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The following statement was released by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt regarding the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) strike

“The California Federation of Teachers stands in solidarity with the working women and men of SEIU 1021, and the Amalgamated Transit Union 1555, who have been forced out onto the picket line in their fight for dignity, safety on the job and fair compensation. We urge the Bay Area Rapid Transit District to negotiate a fair contract with the women and men who make the transit system one of the finest in the country.”

The CFT Amends Complaint Against Accrediting Commission

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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The CFT Amends Complaint Against Accrediting Commission

Demands ACCJC Stop Violating Federal Law and Rescind Recent Coercive Actions

Burbank, CA. The California Federation of Teachers is submitting an amended complaint against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) today and is sending a letter demanding the commission to cease practices that violate Federal law. The amendment takes into account recent ACCJC actions, which include barring the public from its “public” meeting, passing a policy allowing the Commission to shred and destroy documents that are pertinent to the complaint, and attempting to prevent witnesses to Commission irregularities from providing evidence.

“The deliberate destruction or shredding of documents crucial to a complete and accurate record of an accreditation review violates the letter and spirit of Federal law and the leaders of the Commission should be ashamed and be held accountable for it,” said Joshua Pechthalt President of the CFT.

The CFT maintains that these and other efforts by the Commission to prevent discussion of potential irregularities in a review are contrary to their requirements as regional accreditors to hold complete and accurate records of Commission decisions. These new policies also violate the spirit of accreditation, by trying to place behind closed doors crucial decisions about the institutions evaluated by ACCJC.

Among other actions the CFT letter demands the ACCJC: rescind and take no further action to adopt a policy governing shredding or destruction of documents relevant to Commission actions, without following the Commission’s process for consideration of institutional policies (e.g. first and second reading, etc.); take no action to coerce former team members who are not currently within the “control group” of ACCJC, into withholding evidence relevant to complaints against the ACCJC; hold Commission meetings in facilities large enough to accommodate members of the public interested in attending public sessions of the Commission, and then allow access to said members of the public; rescind the revised “Policy on Professional and Ethical Responsibilities of Commission Members”; cease and desist efforts to cause Commission members to “subscribe” to Commission policies, processes and Standards; and, cease and desist forbidding Commission members from making public comments about ACCJC business and accreditation practices.

WHAT: New Amended Complaint Against ACCJC filed and letter sent demanding cease efforts to destroy documents and limit public discussion.

WHO: California Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 2121, and others

The amended complaint

Community College Accrediting Commission Shreds Documents, Attempts to Silence Dissent and Suppresses Evidence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 1, 2013
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Community College Accrediting Commission Shreds Documents, Attempts to Silence Dissent and Suppresses Evidence

CFT Lodges Complaint with US Department of Education

The California Federation of Teachers has amended its April 30 complaint to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and filed it with the United States Department of Education. The original complaint is not only directed at the ACCJC’s assessment of City College of San Francisco, but also its inappropriate treatment of all California Community Colleges. In response to CFT’s 298 page complaint, plus 750 pages of documentation, the ACCJC sent a 7 page letter, which facilely denied  all allegations of conflict of interest and violation of law and policy, and which failed to address the substance of the issues.

The amendment takes into account recent ACCJC actions, which include barring the public from its “public” meeting, passing a policy allowing the Commission to shred and destroy documents that are pertinent to the complaint, and attempting to prevent witnesses to Commission irregularities from providing evidence.

As CFT community college council president Jim Mahler notes, “These recent ACCJC actions to avoid transparency simply underscore the validity of CFT’s complaint. We are documenting the harm done to public higher education due to ACCJC’s harsh and inappropriate sanctions, and the Commission appears to be redoubling its efforts to ensure its actions and decisions never see the light of day.”

The amended complaint

Accreditors Move to Yank Accreditation From City College of San Francisco

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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Accreditors Move to Yank Accreditation From City College of San Francisco

The California Federation of Teachers Vows to Resist and Continue Fight for Quality Public Education for All of San Francisco’s Students

SAN FRANCISCO, CA- AFT local 2121 and the California Federation of Teachers vehemently oppose the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) unprecedented decision to deny accreditation to City College of San Francisco (CCSF).

Reacting to today’s announcement by ACCJC, AFT 2121 President Alisa Messer said: “Apparently the thousands of hours of dedicated work to address the recommendations and the tremendous sacrifices made by the San Francisco community on behalf of City College's success are not enough. We should never have been on 'show cause' in the first place.

“This is a decision that is absolutely without justification. It says more about the ACCJC than it says about City College. This is something we should fight,” says Rafael Mandelman, who recently joined the City College’s Board of Trustees.

City College's quality of instruction was never called into question when the ACCJC placed the College on the most extreme ‘show cause’ sanction in July of 2012, the first accreditation sanction in the college’s 75-plus-year history.

“ACCJC's handiwork has not improved educational quality at CCSF,” said Messer, an English Instructor at the College. “We want a stronger, better college. In many instances they moved us in the wrong direction, and ACCJC should be held accountable for the impact of its actions.”

CFT president Josh Pechthalt notes that, “Across the state, we have been hearing about the arbitrary and high-handed actions of the ACCJC. Its credibility is deeply compromised by its lack of transparency, conflicts of interest, and inconsistent application of standards. This decision is further confirmation of the need for the Commission to be opened up to a rigorous and thorough review of their approach to the accrediting process by our elected leaders and the government bodies responsible for overseeing the Commission.”

“City College has turned itself upside down for the last year to address the ACCJC’s unreasonable demands, none of which were aimed at improving education,” says Jim Mahler, president of the CFT Community College Council. “Nonetheless, the Commission has decided to pull the college’s accreditation, which means further hardship for CCSF students, faculty, and staff.”

“This action by the ACCJC shows that the accreditation system has lost its way,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “Massive, for-profit institutions that have irreparably harmed so many students have been given credibility by this system, while the City College of San Francisco, which has served so many, is on the verge of being unnecessarily decimated and devastated. We would think the ACCJC would seek to work with — not destroy — this valuable community institution so that it can continue to help tens of thousands of students pursue their dreams.”

Earlier in April, AFT 2121 and CFT filed a complaint against the ACCJC with the accreditors and the US Department of Education calling for a thorough investigation. The 298-page complaint raises questions about ACCJC’s impartiality and its compliance with its own policies as well as state and federal law, alleging that during its evaluation of CCSF, ACCJC violated 10 federal regulations, a federal statute and committed procedural errors and due process violations. It argues that the accrediting agency lacks transparency and violates or inconsistently applies its own standards, calling into question the ACCJC’s treatment of all California community colleges. The CFT and AFT 2121 have also advanced specific reforms to address ACCJC’s violations of law and policy.

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Supreme Court decisions

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 26, 2013
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Supreme Court decisions

The California Federation of Teachers today issued the following statement regarding two important decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court:

On the Voting Rights Act: In striking the section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act subjecting states and local governments with a track record of voting exclusion to preclearance, the Supreme Court majority is sending an unfortunate message to young people of color: if you live in the wrong place, don't expect, when you are voting age, to be able to vote, and don't expect the government, if you face problems, to help you vote.

In stating that "Our country has changed," it appears the majority on the Court has no awareness that voting discrimination may have changed its shape, but lives on. While saying that it is Congress's job to determine how to address contemporary racist practices during elections, the Court majority is well aware that the current Congress is not capable of doing that.

In the sharply dissenting words of Justice Ginsburg, “Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination.”

Declaring that 1965 is too long ago to worry about today, the Supreme Court majority misses the point. It has eliminated protections that enabled colorblind voting in the name of our society having magically achieved colorblindness.

It is true that their decision is not about race per se. It means that the conservative majority, without saying so directly, understands that voters of color generally vote Democratic. Only in this way is it a colorblind decision.

On Proposition 8: In ruling that those who brought the suit to reinstate Prop 8 had no standing to do so, the Supreme Court majority sidesteps the central issues once more, but in a way that allows the right choice to be made, and enables the refusal of Governor Brown and Attorney General Harris to defend Prop 8 to be vindicated.

The decision means same-sex marriages in California are legal once again. We are pleased that this reaffirms the right for all people to marry whomever they want to; this reflects the broad shift in consciousness on the issue in the country. Our members celebrate with the rest of California that all loving couples now possess the same rights.

The additional decision of the Court to strike down the section in the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) excluding same sex couples from the definition of marriage, while narrower, underscores the message of the Prop 8 decision: the federal government recognizes marriage equality for all.

In the dramatic decisions made this week by the Supreme Court, some have stripped protection of equal rights and some granted equal rights. We applaud the gains and will fight hard to regain those rights lost.

Media contact

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