FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 5, 2015
ACCJC broke laws pursuing City College, asleep at wheel for Heald College
Oakland—One day after Assemblymember Phil Ting’s accreditation reform bills, AB 1397 and AB 1385, passed the state Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support, students, faculty, and community supporters rallied outside the biannual Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) three-day meeting at an Oakland airport hotel. The rally was held to draw attention to the destructive role played by the ACCJC not only at City College of San Francisco, and with Corinthian-owned Heald College, but throughout the state.
Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) was joined by his colleague Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) in telling reporters how they are pursuing legislative remedies for the rogue agency’s problems. “We need education to be the great equalizer in our society but that role is compromised when education standards are enforced unfairly, arbitrarily, and in secret,” said Ting. “I am pushing reforms through the Legislature to end abuses of power from our accreditor that nearly shuttered City College of San Francisco. We know this is not just a San Francisco problem. Sweeping change is needed to put the needs of our students first by ensuring the same rules apply to all schools.”
Bonta agreed: “Our community colleges nationwide are providing an affordable education for millions of students every year. In California alone our community colleges serve 2.4 million students annually. Last year, I authored AB 1942 in order to ensure that the accreditation process for our community colleges remains fair so that we can guarantee access to affordable education for our California students. Assemblymember Ting’s AB 1397 and AB 1385 continue these important efforts to bring more oversight to the accreditation process in California. I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to ensure that our students continue to receive the quality, affordable education that they deserve.”
Jeff Freitas, CFT Secretary Treasurer, said, “We are elated that AB 1397 by Assemblymember Ting passed out of the Assembly this week with bipartisan support, a bill that once enacted will reform the accrediting commission for two-year colleges; a commission that has hurt so many students in California over the years. We are confident that the Senate will also see the need for a fair and transparent accreditation process for our two-year colleges. And we hope that the Governor will join everyone by signing the bill so California can get back on the right track.”
Students from City College of San Francisco and Heald College described how irresponsible ACCJC actions threatened their educational goals and dreams. Lauraine Temple, a former Heald College student, and single mother of four who completed a paralegal degree, went $40,000 into student loan debt, but was never placed in employment in her field, told reporters, “Heald was a big disappointment. They definitely left me way worse off than I was to begin with. It’s a shame this happened to this institution. It seems that it’s about Wall Street and profit, not education. It’s backwards. Education is supposed to empower people, not oppress them.”
Heald was fully accredited by the ACCJC even after it was acquired by the lawbreaking Corinthian corporation in 2010, and until it was handed over to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in 2012 with a recommendation from ACCJC to continue accreditation. ACCJC dismissed any idea in 2010 that there might be a problem looming with Corinthian ownership of Heald.
Former Heald student Sicily Pruitt, a 25 year old Air Force veteran and single mother of two, said, “After two and a half years of going to school for my degree, and all of the classes for a pharmacy tech program, now I have $27,000 worth of debt, and no degree, and no answers to my questions from the college.”
City College of San Francisco student Carlos Heredia told the rally that just this week he attended his citizenship ceremony. Heredia, 44, has been in the country since 1987. He said, “It would have been much harder for me to become a citizen without City College. The classes I took there were crucial both for gaining my citizenship and becoming a more educated citizen. Yet ACCJC tried to disaccredit City College. This makes no sense. I felt I had to become involved in the struggle to save City College because ACCJC has the wrong priorities.”
Many of the speakers noted the bizarre contradiction in ACCJC’s behavior and inconsistent treatment of City College and Heald. The agency broke the law in its overzealous attempt to close an excellent school (CCSF), while looking the other way as a lawbreaking school (Heald, operated by Corinthian) preyed on thousands of students. Both instances ended with similar catastrophic results: thousands of poor and working class students were denied an education. Faculty from community colleges around the state described their own experiences with ACCJC's expensive, arbitrary, inconsistent and wasteful accreditation practices, detailing the need for comprehensive reform of accreditation in California. They called for further efforts to rein in the rogue agency, including supporting the current legislation, AB 1397 and AB 1385 (Ting).
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