Fewer feet are dragging at CCSF

In the battle to save City College of San Francisco from potential closure, the voices opposing change have been much louder than those supporting efforts to keep the institution open. But since the July 3 decision to revoke accreditation next year, more faculty and students are speaking up in support of new directions.

“The governance system was pretty bad,” said Hal Huntsman, a math instructor. “It was designed to resist change.”

Huntsman said he's always supported the transformation of CCSF but rarely spoke up because he and others did not want to add to the contention and arguments.

However, support for change has been building, Huntsman said.

On internal college message boards, words of support are appearing with greater frequency. More supporters are publicly stepping forward at open board meetings.

Last month, several students spoke out in support of changes during a Board of Supervisors hearing.

A woman who identified herself as Chrissy said it took her six years to transfer to Sacramento State University because of the inequality in student achievement, which she said could be addressed if everyone decided to work together.

“To make sure students are getting out of CCSF in two years and not six years, we have to look at the power-tripping going on at CCSF,” she said. “We need to fix this college and stop blaming other people for our mistakes.”

When CCSF was given the most severe sanction last year by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a wave of resistance to change swept over California's largest community college, targeting the governance and administrative structure and the mission statement.

A group calling itself the Save City College Coalition formed and held numerous rallies with hundreds of people protesting the accrediting commission's decision.

Many people said that they hoped the movement would encourage City College to denounce the ruling and continue with business as usual.

Many also have blamed the commission for CCSF's problems, saying it is corrupt and overstepping its boundaries.

The California Federation of Teachers filed a 300-page complaint with the commission and the U.S. Department of Education, claiming conflicts of interest and accusing the commission of violating its own policies.

Brice Harris, state chancellor for of the California Community Colleges, created a task force to look at accreditation for the system's 112 schools, but he has said that endeavor should be separate from the changes that need to happen at CCSF.

“Using City College as that sort of battlefield is only going to result in the loss of the college,” Harris said.

Tracy Burt, a child development instructor, agreed. Burt said the changes in tracking student-learning outcomes have even helped her grow as a teacher.

She added that the protests distract from the meaningful work that is taking place.

“Most faculty have been working hard, but there are pockets of resistance,” Burt said. “So many people here are willing and ready to create change, that's why we need to bring those folks together somehow within a system that is pretty dysfunctional.”

College launches appeals process

City College of San Francisco submitted a letter this week requesting a review of the decision to terminate the school's accreditation next year.

CCSF officials now have until mid-August to explain why they believe a review of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges' decision should be granted.

“And we're going to be taking every single day to give ourselves enough time,” said Jennifer Aries, a spokeswoman for CCSF.

CCSF received word of the commission's decision July 3. Accreditation will be terminated July 31, unless required changes are made.

In the documentation, which CCSF officials must submit to the commission by Aug. 21, they must explain the reasons they believe the review should be granted. There are only four criteria that a review can based on: error or omissions on the part of the visiting accreditation team's evaluation, bias or prejudice by the team, an error in evidence submitted, or that the commission's decision was not supported by evidence.

Once submitted, the commission will take 30 days to review the materials and determine if the claims are warranted.

CCSF officials cannot request an appeal until a ruling on the review is made. College and state officials have said they will file an appeal once the review process is completed.

The commission noted that the cost of the review will be paid for by the college, at a price set by the commission.

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