Correcting the record on City College and its board candidates

Many people are following the race at the top of the ticket, but the “down-ballot” races are also important and affect our community. Although I have appreciated the coverage on the important but often-overlooked Community College Board race, there have been some inaccuracies reported about City College, the College Board race and my record. I would like to clarify and provide some context for voters.

To start, City College of San Francisco has always been accredited, and the quality of our education has never been in question. The overall progress the college has made in the last two years reflects the stability and determination of the current Board of Trustees. After an accreditation crisis and takeover of an appointed special trustee, the board’s full powers were restored nearly a year earlier than expected, partly due to our focus on working together for the benefit of our students. This work has been in the face of occasional but vociferous criticism. The board, including myself, continues to work hard to overcome the accreditation crisis, increase enrollment, fix the school’s public perception and maintain fiscal solvency as we continue to face budget challenges.

This is why I have been saddened to see some faculty leaders distort the board’s record, and my record in particular. Some have said that I oppose health care benefits and appropriate compensation for our faculty. As a former adjunct faculty member at a different institution, this is blatantly and offensively untrue. As a trustee, I have fought for a college that is financially responsible while balancing the need for fair compensation.

Some of this criticism is not about compensation, but about control of the board. During the accreditation crisis, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team concluded, among other things, that City College had a “unique structure that is difficult to manage, reduces accountability and makes coordination and decision-making more challenging.” The current board has worked to correct the flawed structure and resume responsibility for the decisions that we were elected to make.

In reaction to the board’s independence, some faculty leaders seem to be fighting for a rubber stamp and a return to the status quo that got the college into an accreditation crisis to begin with. This fight has manifested itself in a smear campaign against me specifically that has included untrue statements about my beliefs, my work and my record of fighting for students, faculty and staff. Some of those statements have even appeared in this paper.

Like everyone else in this city, including those who are targeting me, I care deeply about City College and its future. As someone who went from a high school dropout to earning a Ph.D., who is a walking example of the opportunities that community college and higher education can provide, I am intent on making sure that City College is accessible and available to provide others the opportunities that I was afforded. As a policy researcher specializing in evidence-based practices and data-driven decision-making, I am focused on sound policy and good governance for this institution. That means sweating the details, making hard decisions, and saying “no” when it’s necessary. Given my background, I am resolute in my support for faculty and for fair wages, especially in a city that is increasingly difficult to live in or raise a family. And as a fairly new mother, I am determined to ensure that City College is around for my own daughter.

I will not stop fighting for our students, faculty, staff and community, including for those who are trying to stop me. I have a deep respect and support for labor in general and for all of the hard-working people who work for or with City College. However, I have always been an independent and pragmatic voice, and I will not be intimidated by some outspoken faculty leaders who are trying to block those of us who do not unquestioningly tow their line. At the end of the day, I’m not interested in these old political games. I’m interested in the future of City College and the future of our students.

Amy Bacharach is a trustee of City College of San Francisco.

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