News Releases

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.

The following statement was released by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt regarding the State budget agreement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 14, 2013
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The following statement was released by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt regarding the State budget agreement:

This year’s budget begins to restore years of funding cuts to public education and services. It wouldn’t have happened without Proposition 30. While other states are still struggling, or even moving in the wrong direction with tax cuts and program cuts, California is showing the way forward with fair, progressive taxes to fund our schools and services. While we have a long way to go before we have the full resources that give access to the best education possible for all our students, from early childhood through the great public universities, this budget is a good start.

The governor’s Local Control Funding formula will help school districts and students who need the most help. It is a reform that has been a long time coming, and we are confident that as it is implemented we will be able to work out any problems for the benefit of the students.

While the increase in funding to community colleges allows more students to return to the system, counseling and other student services have been slashed to the bone. In the CSU and UC, a tuition freeze this year obviously helps, but years of increases have left students and their families with unsustainable levels of debt.

While celebrating a modest return to budget sanity, we can’t forget that Prop 30 only brings us about half way to full restoration of funding. We look forward to working with the governor and legislature in the coming year to find fair revenue solutions to fund California’s future.

In memoriam: Raoul Teilhet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
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In memoriam: Raoul Teilhet

It is with deep sorrow that the California Federation of Teachers announces the passing of former CFT president Raoul Teilhet.

Raoul Teilhet, a Pasadena high school history teacher who believed collective bargaining offered the path to dignity and respect for public school employees before laws existed allowing it, and served as president of the California Federation of Teachers in successful pursuit of that goal, died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease on June 5 in Los Angeles. He was 79.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said, “Raoul Teilhet was a creative leader. I had the pleasure of spending many long evenings with him solving education problems and discussing how we could make California and its schools better for everyone. I’ll miss him.”

When Teilhet began teaching in the late 1950s, he said he “didn’t have the least intention of organizing a union, or becoming a member of one.” He would later joke that he “thought that AFT was the other end of a boat.” But when an American Federation of Teachers organizer called a meeting in 1960 in a nearby town, Teilhet was one of a handful of teachers who signed the charter founding the Pasadena Federation of Teachers, and he agreed to serve as its first treasurer. Within a few years he was elected local president, then a member of the statewide CFT Executive Council, and CFT president in 1967. Teilhet spoke out loudly and early against the Vietnam War when few labor leaders were willing to do so. Likewise, when State Senator John Briggs placed a measure on the state ballot that would have banned gay teachers from California classrooms, Teilhet debated him across the state and helped turn the tide against the Briggs Initiative. Under his leadership the CFT grew from 6,000 members to nearly 40,000 by the time he stepped down in 1985. And his forceful advocacy was one of the main reasons why the California state legislature passed, and Governor Jerry Brown signed, the Educational Employment Relations Act in 1975, legalizing collective bargaining in California public education.

Teilhet is survived by his wife, Carol Rosenzweig Teilhet.

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