August 21, 2013, Sacramento—With strong bipartisan support, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) today approved Senators Beall and Nielsen's request for the Bureau of State Audits to audit the accreditation process at three California community colleges. Nielsen says ACCJC president Beno is "arrogant, condescending..." Read More...
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which oversees accreditation of community colleges in California, has been troubled by allegations for years that its methods are arbitrary and punitive. Faculty have charged that the ACCJC, instead of helping to improve the delivery of education, diverts attention, time, and resources away from the classroom to “compliance,” much of which has little, if anything, to do with education. The Commission’s work is also, they say, responsible for deteriorating relations between faculty and administrators fearful of ACCJC sanctions, which occur at a startlingly higher rate here than in regions overseen by other accreditation agencies.
Recently the CFT has challenged the Commission in a formal process known as “third party comment,” in which interested parties can file a complaint with the commission and with the U.S. Department of Education. CFT has also filed suit, seeking an injunction to keep City College of San Francisco open, as has the City Attorney of San Francisco. Below are links to stories and documents that explain what CFT and its locals—and a growing number of elected officials and other organizations—are doing to change the ACCJC’s behavior, and what the Commission has been doing (or not doing) in response.
Third party comments, amendments, and lawsuit
August 13, 2013—Today the U.S. Department of Education sent notice to the ACCJC that three elements of the CFT's complaint needed to be addressed or the accrediting agency's reauthorization will be in jeopardy. The three elements included a conflict of interest by ACCJC president Barbara Beno in appointing her husband to the CCSF site visit team in 2012; failure to appoint accreditation review teams that were balanced between administrative and faculty appointments; and failure to distinguish clearly between "recommendations" and "deficiencies" that CCSF needed to address after its accreditation was reaffirmed in 2006. Click here to view the DOE's letter to Beno.
August 22, 2013, San Francisco—Today the City Attorney in San Francisco filed suit against the ACCJC, charging, among other things, that “the private agency unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards,” and termed the ACCJC “a wholly unaccountable private entity.” Read CFT statement.
The American Federation of Teachers has reaffirmed its support for the faculty of City College of San Francisco (CCSF) represented by Local 2121 and the entire CCSF community in their effort to restore accreditation (see resolution adopted at the July 20 AFT Executive Council meeting). The AFT recognizes the important educational role CCSF has played in the Bay Area and decries the irresponsible actions of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) in revoking City College’s accreditation. The AFT and CFT will continue to work with our sisters and brothers in AFT Local 2121 and others to maintain City College as a vital part of our state’s higher education community providing a comprehensive academic program while respecting the essential role of the men and women who work in and out of the classroom at CCSF.
April 30, 2013, Novato—Today the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and its City College San Francisco (CCSF) affiliate, AFT 2121, filed a complaint or “third party comment” with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), and sent a copy to the United States Department of Education (USDOE). With this action the CFT is protesting the ACCJC’s placement of City College San Francisco on a “show cause” sanction in 2012. The document argues that no sanction, let alone “show cause,” should have been imposed on CCSF. It also notifies the ACCJC and the USDOE that in the view of CFT, the accrediting agency is in violation of federal and state law and its own policies, and has overstepped its authority in a number of ways. The agency is currently undergoing its own review by the USDOE, and CFT is presenting the complaint as information useful to that process.
In 2006 City College of San Francisco (CCSF) was visited by the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) during the regular six year accreditation cycle, and its accreditation was reaffirmed. The ACCJC made recommendations for the college
to improve; these were advisory in nature. In 2012, following another site visit, the ACCJC issued a “Show Cause” sanction, e.g., ‘show cause why the college should not be closed.’ At this point the “recommendations to improve” from 2006 somehow became a need to “correct deficiencies,” a different definition under guidelines for accreditation. The failure to sufficiently address these “deficiencies” was offered by ACCJC in 2012 as a major reason why it imposed a “show cause” sanction. It was unprecedented for a community college to be jumped from no sanction, over other sanction levels, to “Show Cause.”
Since then the college has suffered the loss of thousands of students due to fears they would not receive credit for classes taken, and would not be eligible for student financial aid. The ACCJC’s action has thrown the college into turmoil, disturbed what had been a collegial atmosphere, and negatively affected the college’s ability to deliver a quality education to its students.
The complaint seeks remedies, the most significant of which are to lift the “show cause” sanction on CCSF, and for the ACCJC to cease violating laws and its own policies in pursuit of an inappropriate “education reform” agenda.