AFT members step up to save their college

City College of San Francisco faculty fight to restore enrollment after accreditation battle.

Members of the City College of San Francisco Faculty Union, known as AFT 2121, are fighting hard to rescue their school. 

First, as reported in this publication, CCSF’s accreditation was threatened. Then, predictably, enrollment dropped.

Although the court ruled in January that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges acted illegally when it tried to shut down CCSF, the fight against the agency continues. But AFT 2121 members are also turning toward pre-bargaining sessions and focusing on building enrollment to save their school.

CCSF faculty and staff were appalled when the ACCJC denied accreditation to the 85,000-student school in 2013. None of the accreditor’s concerns was about quality of education, and the ACCJC refused to budge on record-keeping and finance issues. Even when 95 percent of the 350 tasks required for accreditation were completed, the ACCJC would not relent.

Powerful community members rallied to support the college. U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo called the
ACCJC’s actions “outrageous,” and the U.S. Department of Education found the agency out of compliance on a number of federal requirements itself.

Finally, the San Francisco Superior Court ruled on Jan. 16 that the ACCJC had committed “significant unlawful practices” in its accreditation review. The agency is now under court order to revisit the decision revoking accreditation and provide the college with further opportunity to respond.

“The commission broke the law, and City College of San Francisco must be given a new opportunity to keep its accreditation,” says California Federation of Teachers President and AFT Vice President Joshua Pechthalt. 

“The court’s decision confirms what educators, students and the entire San Francisco community have known for years—City College is part of the fabric of San Francisco because of the higher education opportunities it has provided for decades,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Its name has been illegally and arbitrarily sullied by a rogue accreditation agency, harming the very people an accrediting body is supposed to help.”

Meanwhile, union members take the long view on maintaining a high-quality experience for their students. “Administration needs to work with faculty to immediately find ways to boost enrollment,” union leaders wrote on the local’s website. “The alternative—a dramatically reduced college—is not an option.”

AFT On Campus, Summer 2015 Download PDF (2.18 MB)
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