Accreditation agency to meet behind closed doors, decide fate of CCSF's “Restoration Status” application

For immediate release: January 7, 2015

Contact: Fred Glass, 510/579-3343, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Cherri Senders, 818/422-2787, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) will meet in Sacramento at its biannual meeting Jan. 7 - 9 to decide on the fate of City College of San Francisco (CCSF), which applied under duress for “Restoration Status” last summer. The Commission’s deliberations and decisions will occur, as usual, behind closed doors. Public comment will be allowed for a total of 15 minutes during the three days.

If CCSF is denied “Restoration Status,” only a court injunction issued by Judge Curtis Karnow a year ago will keep the college open, pending the outcome of the trial of the ACCJC in a suit filed by the San Francisco City Attorney. Closing arguments for the trial were heard Dec. 9, 2014, and a ruling is expected sometime this month.

“It is ironic that the Commission sitting in judgment of CCSF awaits a San Francisco Superior Court verdict regarding its own unfair and unlawful actions,” said Tim Killikelly, a political science instructor at the college and president of the faculty union, AFT 2121.

In 2014, the ACCJC developed the “Restoration Status” process in response to growing scrutiny of its arbitrary and inconsistent treatment of City College. However, “Restoration Status” leaves CCSF with no right of appeal or review. It allows the college to be shut down even if it meets a standard of "substantial compliance," while other colleges can remain open if they meet the “substantial compliance” standard. “Restoration Status” was initially perceived by many as a victory for CCSF, because it promised to keep the college open two more years.

But the Commission already had the authority to grant a two-year “good cause” extension for CCSF, as it has done for many other colleges. Last June, a scathing report by the State Auditor cited the ACCJC’s inconsistent application of standards as a major problem; the rules of “Restoration Status” show ACCJC hasn’t changed its ways. As Congresswoman Jackie Speier recently noted, “Whenever you have institutions that are self-regulated, you have the potential for arbitrariness, conflicts of interest, bad actors.”

California Federation of Teachers president Joshua Pechthalt added, “This commission has repeatedly demonstrated it is unable to oversee accreditation for California’s community colleges in a fair and constructive manner. Its conflicts of interest, erratic application of standards, and pattern of bullying were all revealed clearly in the San Francisco Superior Court trial, and showcase the need for a viable alternative for fair accreditation.”

The excellent quality of education at City College of San Francisco is not in dispute. According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), which wrote an analysis of CCSF’s educational quality, “By most measures, City College fares well relative to other community colleges in the state. The share of students who complete college by earning a degree or certificate, or by transferring to a four-year college, is higher at CCSF than in the rest of the state.” The facts speak for themselves:

• Persistence rate: CCSF 78.1% compared to 70.5% statewide
• Remedial ESL student success rate: CCSF 58.3% compared to 27.1% statewide
• Completion rate: CCSF 56% compared to 49% statewide
• Transfer rate: CCSF 48% compared to 41% statewide

“The time has come to give the college back its accreditation,” says Killikelly, “which it never deserved to lose in the first place.”

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

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