News Releases

Faculty leaders voice support for task force recommendation of a new accreditor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, October 30, 2015

Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commentary provided during ACCJC’s Bakersfield “listening session”

Faculty leaders from nearby colleges descended on Bakersfield College to provide comments at the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior College’s “listening session” earlier today. Faculty were represented on the Community College Chancellor’s Task Force on Accreditation. The Task Force’s report, released August 28, recommended replacing the ACCJC with a new accreditor.

Despite the event in Bakersfield being described as a “listening session,” ACCJC President Barbara Beno did not participate, and Commission Chair Steve Kinsella was only available by phone.

“Beno was a no-show and Kinsella could only bother to call in,” said Tim Killikelly, president of the faculty union at City College of San Francisco. “This is listening?”

“The ACCJC just doesn’t get it,” Killikelly continued. “The Task Force says that we must find a new accreditor, not just ask them to act more reasonable and stop abusing their authority. That ship has sailed.”

In addition to Killikelly, other faculty leaders in attendance included Lacy Barnes, President of State Center Federation of Teachers; and Paul Tidwell of College of the Sequoias.

“The California Community Colleges deserve an accreditor committed to genuine peer evaluation, transparency in decision-making and respect for faculty and faculty rights,” Tidwell said. “Time and again the ACCJC has shown arrogant disregard for these attributes in favor of back-room deals, autocratic leadership and arbitrary sanctions. Politically motivated campus restructuring around arcane standards has had a catastrophic impact on finances, enrollment and morale statewide. Faculty and students in the largest system of higher education in the U.S. need to be freed from the fear and intimidation spread by the ACCJC. For these, and myriad other reasons, it is time for a new accreditor."

Last month the California Community College Board of Governors (BOG) directed State Community Chancellor Brice Harris to send his Accreditation Task Force's Report to the United States Department of Education. The report cited a multitude of failures by the current California community college accreditor.

“The ACCJC does not seem to understand the gravity of its situation,” said Barnes, also a CFT Senior Vice President. “The Task Force Report clearly demonstrates ‘no confidence’ in that body. The time for the commissioners to ‘listen’ has long passed; it is time for them to make their exit.”

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More info: www.cft.org.

Court dismisses “Bain v. CTA”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For CTA: Jonathan Goldman,415-509-1654, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Unions’ right to determine membership withstands corporate legal assault

Los Angeles—U.S. District Court judge Stephen V. Wilson today announced the dismissal of “April Bain et al v. California Teachers Association et al,” the latest example of corporate interests reinterpreting the First Amendment to silence the collective voice of the Nation’s working men and women and undermine the democratic process within unions. 

In the suit’s convoluted argument, filed earlier this year, four union members alleged they were compelled to relinquish first amendment rights because they couldn’t vote in union matters without paying dues. In his ruling Judge Wilson sided with the defendants’ argument to dismiss, which stated that if plaintiffs prevailed, the unions’ first amendment right to freedom of association through self-governance would be abrogated.

The California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers are pleased that the Court has reaffirmed the unions’ right to advocate effectively on behalf of students, members and public education.

“The Bain lawsuit rests on sensational and entirely incorrect claims,” said California Teachers Association President Eric Heins. “The truth in this case is, no California teacher is required to join a union and every educator is entirely free to decline membership. Members of CTA also have the option of not having any of their dues money spent for political candidates. It’s as simple as checking a box on their membership form.”

“We welcome the quick and early decision by Judge Wilson,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. “What the Bain plaintiffs were asking for would have represented a significant and unprecedented violation of teachers’ First Amendment rights to democratically associate in a labor union. It’s no surprise that every court that previously considered such claims has roundly rejected them.”

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The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3.2 million-member National Education

Association. The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American
Federation of Teachers, and represents faculty and school employees in public and private
schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

Community College Board of Governors to send message to US Department of Education: "California needs a new accreditor"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cherri Senders, 818-884-8966 ext 1104; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Yesterday the California Community College Board of Governors (BOG) directed State Community Chancellor Brice Harris to send his Accreditation Task Force's Report, issued two weeks ago, to the United States Department of Education (DOE). The Report, citing a multitude of failures by the current California community college accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, recommends that California replace the ACCJC with a new agency.

The members of the Board of Governors were clearly impressed by the unanimity and forceful nature of the blue ribbon Task Force's recommendations. The Task Force included faculty, administration, college presidents, and elected local college board of trustees members. The Report's findings were summarized at the BOG meeting by several task force participants, and reinforced by a dozen faculty representatives from around the state during public comments.

"This is terrific news for California's two million community college students," said CFT Secretary Treasurer Jeff Freitas, who spoke to the Board. The statewide organization, along with the City College of San Francisco faculty union, had submitted a complaint to the DOE in 2013 that resulted in a finding that ACCJC was in violation of a number of accreditation standards. "It is past time this lawbreaking agency was shown the door." [Click here to see CFT President Joshua Pechthalt's op ed in yesterday's Sacramento Bee on this topic]

The 2013 DOE finding was followed in rapid succession by a successful suit by the City Attorney of San Francisco against ACCJC, a Joint Legislative Audit Committee report with scathing criticism of the accreditor, and a move by the Board of Governors earlier this year to strip the ACCJC of sole accreditor status in California.

The ACCJC is currently under review by the higher education body within the DOE in charge of authorizing accreditors, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI).

Several of the speakers at the BOG had urged the body to submit the Task Force Report to NACIQI by Friday, September 25, the deadline for NACIQI to receive comments on the ACCJC's fitness to continue as community college accreditor in California. The board resolution, which passed unanimously, instructed Chancellor Harris to do that.

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More info: www.cft.org.

Civil Rights Groups, Researchers, Legal Scholars, and Top Educators Urge Reversal of Deeply Flawed Vergara Ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 16, 2015 

Contacts: For CFT: Fred Glass 510-579-3343
For CTA: Frank Wells 562-708-5425

For Information on the Civil Rights Groups Brief:
Jennifer Bezoza or Candice Francis, (415) 543-9697, ext: 232


Amicus “Friend of the Court” Briefs Filed Today
Spotlight Harm to Students and Failings of Decision

LOS ANGELES — Some of the nation’s top legal scholars, education policy experts, civil rights advocates, award-winning teachers, school board members and administrators filed five amici curiae, or “friend of the court,” briefs with the California Court of Appeal today. The filings shine a spotlight on the numerous and major flaws that would harm students in last year’s decision striking down important due process rights for California educators, as well as other laws governing hiring and layoffs of state educators. The briefs strongly criticize the Vergara ruling on both legal and policy grounds, urging that the decision be reversed.

Prominent civil rights organizations including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Equal Justice Society, Education Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Advancing Justice-LA filed powerful briefs. These organizations argued that a lack of adequate funding, and certainly not the challenged statutes, is the primary cause of educational inequity, and that in order to close the achievement gap, disadvantaged schools and students must have the support and resources they need to succeed. Arguing that money and race influence competition for qualified teachers and the ability of districts to enact proven reforms like smaller class sizes, the organizations urged the Court to reverse the “…plaintiffs’ attempt to lay blame at the feet of the tenure system for disparities that are the product of other factors, including chronically inadequate funding for education.”

Some of California’s most-honored teachers—including 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki, and 2014 California Teacher of the Year and national nominee Timothy Smith—wrote of the importance of due process and how these laws ensure they are able to teach without fear of discriminatory, politically-motivated, or baseless termination, and how the laws support the risk-taking often necessary to be an outstanding teacher. They also stressed how striking down the challenged statutes would likely worsen teacher turnover in already disadvantaged school districts. The educators were joined in their brief by the American Association of University Professors, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, and the Korematsu Center for Law & Equality.

More than ninety top national education researchers and scholars, including Diane Ravitch, Richard Ingersoll and Eva Baked, took the decision to task for failing to establish any causal link between the challenged statutes and any alleged problems the suit purports to address. These experts argued that current laws play a key role in the recruitment and retention of quality teachers, in a job market where teaching is unfortunately often becoming less and less attractive as a career option for university students. The researchers were also highly critical of the plaintiffs’ proposal to rely on standardized test scores and the “value-added method (VAM)” of interpreting those scores as the major criteria for teacher layoffs due to budget cuts. “VAM scores have been shown to be unstable and to fluctuate dramatically from year to year, so that a teacher could appear very ineffective one year and then very effective the next,” they wrote. “The trial court ultimately failed to consider the possibility that relying solely on VAMs as a way to administer reductions-in-force could drive teachers away from the profession and exacerbate the teacher shortage.”

Past and present school board members, as well as school administrators, filed a brief that argued making teaching a more attractive profession is in the best interest of students. Vergara would make teaching a less desirable profession and would exacerbate a growing teacher scarcity, especially in light of the fact that it is just one among many ongoing orchestrated attacks on educators. Among supporters of the appeal were Kevin Beiser, board member of the San Diego Unified School District; Joan Buchanan, former state lawmaker and trustee of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District; and Steve Zimmer, board president of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Perhaps most devastating to the decision was the brief by some of the top legal scholars in the country, among them Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and Catherine Fisk of UC Irvine Law School, Charles Ogletree of Harvard Law School, and Pam Karlan of Stanford Law School. These experts said there was simply no basis in the law for finding the challenged statutes unconstitutional or that any causal link had been demonstrated between the statutes and a diminished education for any student. They argued that striking down the statutes could in fact make things worse for students. They wrote, “In this case, the trial court substituted its judgment about desirable education policy and the best way to improve education for students without regard to the harms its policy choice might cause and without regard to the evidence or the law about the cause of educational inequities and the likelihood that the court’s injunction would redress it. The trial court exceeded its role in our constitutional system and its ruling must be reversed.”

Attorney General Kamala Harris, representing the State of California as defendant; and the intervening parties, California Teachers Association and California Federation of Teachers, had filed separate appeal briefs earlier this summer. The amici curiae briefs filed today, as well as a complete list of signatories, can be seen here.

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The 325,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association. The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 100,000 faculty and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

Statement from Los Rios College Federation of Teachers on Shooting at Sacramento City College

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, September 4, 2015

Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or Cherri Senders, 818-884-8966 ext 1104; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“We want to express our support for our colleagues at Sacramento City College following the tragic shooting of three students on campus that resulted in one fatality. We extend our sincere condolences to those students and their families. Both the Los Rios Faculty Union and Senate leadership agree that we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure campus safety and will work collaboratively to discuss further steps in light of yesterday’s tragic occurrence.

“Our hearts go out to our colleagues at Sacramento City College in this trying time. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the collaborative and quick-thinking efforts of the college President, Kathryn Jeffery, faculty and staff, and Los Rios Police. Their poise and diligence deserve commendation.”

Dean Murakami, President
Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Local 2279

Brian Robinson, President
Los Rios District Academic Senate

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More info: www.cft.org.

Chancellor’s task force calls for new accreditor to oversee state’s community colleges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Friday, August 28, 2015

Fred Glass, 510-579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rogue agency ACCJC handed a serious setback by report

Today the California Community College Chancellor’s office released its long-awaited task force report on accreditation and the practices of the Accrediting Commission for Community Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Validating the view of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) that this rogue commission needs reform or replacement, the task force heavily criticized the way the commission does business, capped with a recommendation that California find a new accreditor.

“The ACCJC has lost its way,” said Joshua Pechthalt, CFT president. “We need a commission with the best interests of students, faculty and public higher education at the center of its work. The ACCJC has other priorities. It forces colleges to waste faculty and staff time and taxpayer money on bureaucratic minutia irrelevant to the classroom. It makes reckless and ill-informed decisions behind closed doors that harm the lives of thousands of Californians. And in the process, it is unconcerned if it is breaking the law. This report sharply underscores that accreditation is too important to be left in the hands of ACCJC.”

The report, compiled by a blue-ribbon panel of California community college experts, including college presidents, administrators, elected trustees, and faculty, found that:

• The ACCJC’s level of sanctions imposed on colleges was “inordinately high” compared with other regional accreditors
• The “California Community College system and its member institutions have lost confidence in the ACCJC”
• The colleges and the system need to transition to another accreditor.

Background
Two years ago, the CFT filed a complaint with the US Department of Education regarding ACCJC’s failure to comply with multiple accreditor standards. The department issued a letter detailing the ACCJC’s lack of compliance with fifteen accreditation standards required for continued recognition as an accreditor. This opened the door to increasing scrutiny of the agency:

• The San Francisco City Attorney filed a suit against ACCJC that resulted earlier this year in a state Superior Court ruling that the agency broke four laws in its ill-considered decision to shutter City College of San Francisco.

• A report issued by California’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee in June of last year harshly criticized the agency for its CCSF decision, for its absurd levels of secrecy, for its disproportionate rate of sanctions compared to other accrediting agencies, and uneven treatment of the colleges it oversees.

• Earlier this year, the State Community College Board of Governors opened the door to a new accreditor, removing language from Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations that had given the ACCJC sole authority over accreditation of the state’s community colleges.

• Legislators, too, have come to recognize the level of problems generated by the agency. A bill sponsored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-SF), AB 1397, to make the ACCJC more transparent and accountable is now on the state senate floor, the last hurdle before it moves to the governor for a signature.

“The members of the task force recognize that the ACCJC has ignored or dismissed similar reports in the past, and expect a similar reaction this time,” said Joanne Waddell, faculty union president at the Los Angeles Community College District, and a task force member. “The difference now is that more people are aware of the problematic nature of the agency, and the specific recommendation that the agency be replaced as accreditor in California underscores the urgency of the matter. We hope this report helps legislators and policymakers to take appropriate steps.”

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculty in thirty community college districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More info: www.cft.org.

Media contact

If you are a reporter or have a media inquiry, please call CFT Communications Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at 510-579-3343.