FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, June 6, 2014
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Protestors tell ACCJC to Rescind Decision to Close College

Community college faculty from across state call for Fair Accreditation

Sacramento—More than two hundred community college faculty and students, some of whom had traveled from as far away as San Diego, rallied and picketed today outside the venerable Citizen Hotel as the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges met inside behind police barriers and held the brief “public” portion of its biannual three day meeting. The demonstration showcased the refusal of the secretive Commission to rescind its decision to disaccredit City College of San Francisco, despite calls to do so from a growing bi-partisan army of elected officials. The protestors also called for legislative reform of the opaque ACCJC and state accreditation practices.

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt spoke at the rally. He said, “Without a reversal of the commission’s year-old decision, City College of San Francisco will lose accreditation in July, denying access to more than 80,000 low income students of color to affordable higher education. That’s one in every ten residents of San Francisco. City College generates more than $300 million per year in economic activity for San Francisco, and is the largest job trainer in the Bay Area. This out of control commission will be responsible for an unbelievably damaging blow to the hopes and dreams of thousands of students and their families, as well as to the well-being of San Francisco.”

The College’s closure is temporarily stayed by an injunction issued in January by S.F. Superior Court judge Curtis Karnow. It is in place until conclusion of a trial over a lawsuit filed by the S.F. City Attorney alleging political bias in the ACCJC’s decision.

CCSF student Tiffany Monica Louie emceed the event. She said, “City College has always been important to me and my family. Both of my parents attended City College and my brother attends as well. Like for many students from low-income, immigrant families, City College has provided guidance and phenomenal education for me to grow and succeed. From offering the API leadership program to the invaluable mentoring I have continually received from many CCSF faculty, City College has played a significant part in my success in transferring to a four year university this fall. If CCSF closes, our most marginalized communities will be left in the dark, and students like me will never get the opportunity to grow and succeed.”

CFT Community College Council president Jim Mahler of San Diego said, “While the immediate task is to save City College from this destructive and unaccountable agency, we have a bigger task too. The current system has forced California's community colleges, all across the state, to divert precious time and resources away from the classroom to satisfy the politicized and costly dictates of an accrediting commission gone bad. A rapidly growing number of experts and elected officials from San Francisco to Sacramento to Washington D.C. agree that we need to reform the ACCJC.”

Joanne Waddell, president of the faculty union in the Los Angeles CC District, said, “In Los Angeles we are facing an accreditation review that will waste our time and taxpayer money on ACCJC obsessions unrelated to the quality of education. At a time when we are trying to rebuild our course offerings and programs after years of budget cuts, an accreditation review process run this way, to satisfy out of touch bureaucrats instead of helping our students get the best education possible, is the last thing we need.”

Also speaking was Tim Killikelly, instructor and president of AFT Local 2121 at City College of San Francisco. He said, “The path the ACCJC imposed on us has been a disaster. Our enrollments have declined, and there is no evidence that the students who dropped out have gone to different colleges. The ACCJC’s basic function for the community is to insure quality education; the commission has failed miserably with incredible lack of good judgment. The uncertainty at CCSF is not the only uncertainty that has been created. Now, the very future of ACCJC has been called into question. Their leadership team needs to be reined in. Its lack of transparency and arbitrariness has now become legendary.”

The unaccountable ACCJC stubbornly refuses to extend the deadline for closure. The San Francisco City Attorney and the California Federation of Teachers maintain that the ACCJC’s accreditation review of the college was fatally compromised by improper procedures, and should be rescinded because it violated its own policies, accreditation rules and federal law.

The Commission’s behavior is not new. During the hearing of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee last year, State Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) described his encounter with the Commission’s president, Barbara Beno: “In all my career, I have never dealt with a more arrogant, condescending, and dismissive individual.” Within the past two weeks, Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo have expressed their outrage at the intransigent position of the Commission’s leaders, and the state Legislature has passed unanimous resolutions asking the Commission to reconsider. Yet the Commission continues to maintain its hands are tied by U.S. Department of Education regulations, even as that federal agency, along with the state Community College Chancellor, has directly contradicted the Commission’s contention.

Faculty and students wearing “yellow and red for public ed,” lined J Street with signs calling for a reversal of the disaccreditation decision and for fair accreditation practices.

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The CFT represents over 25,000 faculties 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

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