Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

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Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Eric » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:12 am

I found this on another channel:

By Pete Young - Jul 3, 2013 7:52 PM PT

Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation - Bloomberg

City College of San Francisco, California’s largest community college, has been notified that it will lose accreditation in 2014, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
The school with about 85,000 students was found to be out of compliance with requirements for financial accountability, governance and instructional programs, according to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The body said it would terminate the school’s accreditation effective July 31, 2014.
Loss of accreditation can make a college ineligible for government funds. Chancellor Brice W. Harris said he would appoint a special trustee with extraordinary powers to help City College through a challenge to the move.
Eric

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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby nosborne48 » Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:30 pm

Wow! This is a very big story!

Good old WASC isn't afraid to bite as well as bark. We've seen that before now. But this is going to make very large waves.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Hungry Ghost » Thu Jul 04, 2013 6:24 pm

See this earlier thread:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9011

The local media are reporting two bits of news.

First, the California state community college Chancellor in Sacramento says that he is going to place CCSF under the control of a "special trustee" early next week, stripping its current board of trustees of all their power. It looks like the state will basically be taking over control of the school.

Second, activists on campus (both faculty and students) are calling upon friendly politicians, particularly the Secretary of the US Department of Education (who decides whether to recognize accreditors), to intervene to control WASC, who they characterize as "runaway". The California Federation of Teachers (the faculty union) has already filed suit against WASC, alleging that it's exceeded its authority. So WASC will be facing a concerted counterattack, and from people who are very well connected, politically.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Rich Douglas » Fri Jul 05, 2013 3:32 am

Okay, WASC did its job. Now the state needs to do its job by fixing this. One way would be to move the school under the control of another accredited school, making this its branch campus and moving its administration to the gaining school.

Of course, the state may wantto kill it. If so, WASC has done the state's bidding.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:08 pm

The state Chancellor's office appointed what it calls a 'special trustee with extraordinary powers' last Monday.

The gentleman was already a state-appointed special trustee with advisory powers on the CCSF board, so what's new this week is his authority to rule CCSF unilaterally and the effective dismissal of the elected CCSF board.

Significantly though, one thing that he wasn't given any power over is changing labor contracts.

The state chancellor said that CCSF has been addressing the concerns that WASC has been voicing for a long time and reiterated a year ago when they placed CCSF on 'show-cause' status. But CCSF's progress has been painfully slow. Only two of WASC's 14 concerns have been addressed in their entirety. So the new 'special trustee with extraordinary powers' says that things will be changing a lot faster. (Without touching the labor contracts, of course.)

A phrase that the chancellor used repeatedly was 'ineffective leadership'. I expect those words were carefully chosen. CCSF's leadership isn't corrupt or incompetent (though a few board of trustees members might come close). In my opinion it's just in an impossible situation. Given its size, CCSF has a miniscule number of administrators and their powers are severely limited. What it does have are faculty (and staff and student) committees, literally more committees than it has administrators. (The Revolution happened a long time ago at CCSF, which is being managed by consensus by the People.)

So what we have are lots of ad-hoc decisions, however well-intentioned, made on the fly in response to events. The school has a whole collection of campuses and remote sites. Nobody really knows how many there are, since classes are held in many different places in response to events. When WASC wanted to know what some of the more permanent college-owned campuses cost (they can have expensive facilities, including newly constructed custom high-rise buildings) and how much is being spent to operate them, CCSF's sorry administration didn't really have much of a clue. They simply didn't know. CCSF's units apparently don't really have fixed budgets (at least not ones whose numbers can be trusted). Instead the countless different units have needs or desires (at CCSF those are the same thing), they make requests/demands (those are the same thing too) to somebody (it isn't clear who) that votes them special funding for that particular purpose. So CCSF has this huge pile of special non-recurring expenses and very little idea of what the things they are doing today are going to cost them tomorrow. Then everyone acts surprised when the whole thing comes in way over-budget (we haven't even started talking about underfunded employee benefits) and the activists once again start demanding higher taxes to pay for it.

Now that's going to have to change, and it's going to have to change very quickly. (CCSF's death-sentence is one year off.) That's what the newly empowered Special Trustee promises will happen. (At least change to the extent that the disfunctional parts aren't written into labor contracts.) But that means that he's going to have to totally redesign the school's governance, and he's going to have to do it in the face of some very determined opposition. (CCSF has lots of little fiefdoms whose rulers won't be pleased to have their toes stepped on.)

There are lots and lots of people who are going to be very displeased. (There's already dark talk on campus of mass demonstrations. The Special Trustee will have to face that too.) The faculty unions already have their activist-attorneys in court, trying to overturn the changes there. And everyone is going to be crying to San Francisco's own Nancy Pelosi (actually she's originally from Baltimore, but her political machine totally runs SF where she's Congresswoman-for-Life) and perhaps to her close friend in the White House as well, trying to convince them to come down hard on WASC (and presumably the state Chancllor's office as well, since they seem to be in WASC's corner).

WASC has a tiger by the tail in this one. They might succeed in enforcing conventional accreditation standards on CCSF. But on the other hand, they might end up emasculated for even making the attempt. The federal Secretary of Education could simply unilaterally decide that all US DoEd recognized accreditors are henceforth forbidden from even considering large areas of college/university governance and financial operations, on pain of having their federal recognition stripped.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Rich Douglas » Sun Jul 14, 2013 4:41 pm

In absolutely no particular order:

Retrench.
Focus on what the school does best (its core competencies).
Cut away dead or dying limbs that threaten the health of the whole tree.
Make sure the money is right.
Apologize.
Take care of students.
Have a plan.
Have a vision of the new school.
Change leadership.
Be transparent.
Cooperate.

How do you carve a wooden horse? You take a piece of wood and cut away everything that doesn't look like a horse. They need to cut away everything that doesn't look like a smooth-running school. Now. Today. (Yes, on Sunday. Get the press release drafted to go out tomorrow morning.)
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Hungry Ghost » Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:14 am

Hungry Ghost wrote:WASC has a tiger by the tail in this one. They might succeed in enforcing conventional accreditation standards on CCSF. But on the other hand, they might end up emasculated for even making the attempt. The federal Secretary of Education could simply unilaterally decide that all US DoEd recognized accreditors are henceforth forbidden from even considering large areas of college/university governance and financial operations, on pain of having their federal recognition stripped.


The US Department of Education in Washington DC has just weighed in, responding to a complaint from the American Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association (City College's faculty unions) by informing WASC that its Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges will lose its federal recognition as an accreditor unless it changes how it's treating City College of San Francisco.

It really does help when you have political allies in high places.

The union activists are strutting around CCSF like little roosters today, after this victory. Just when the prospect of impending death had finally concentrated everyone at CCSF on belatedly trying to reform the disfunctional place, the heat's off again. The entrenched interests who had been battling changes for years are just going to double down now, and nothing is going to get done. The special trustee that the state recently appointed is going to find that his job just got exponentially harder.

This thing could move in one of two directions.

WASC might have to back off and recognize that CCSF not only has the immunity to behave as it desires, they will also have to recognize that CCSF now has the power to dictate to the accreditor what it must accept as accreditable.

Or else WASC might try to hold its ground and essentially dare the Secretary of Education to de-recognize its Community College Commission and the 100+ California community colleges that body accredits.

Whatever happens, this thing just got a lot bigger than the fate of one atypical junior college in California. When this is over, the whole landscape of accreditation in the US might be significantly different, most likely a whole lot more politicized.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby nosborne48 » Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:07 pm

WOW! :shock:
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby SteveFoerster » Thu Aug 15, 2013 3:11 pm

nosborne48 wrote:WOW! :shock:

It's sad, but hardly surprising.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby johann » Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:52 pm

The CCSF situation looks a bit like the stance of the City Employees' unions in Detroit. However things go there, I can't see a good outcome for Detroit - and sadly, I can't see any way to a good final outcome from the CCSF situation either, whether the accreditor backs off or it doesn't... :sad:

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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Rich Douglas » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:21 am

Of course, there is the possibility that the school is right. It wouldn't be the first time WASC ran roughshod over a school within its jurisdiction.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby nosborne48 » Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:01 pm

I have wondered whether it was necessary to decapitate the New College of California. The school certainly had issues but it was doing good work in under served communities.

Of course, that fact alone might have been a source of hostility. Accrediting agencies are by nature conservative. Your program needs to look a lot like the other guy's program if you hope to be accredited by his agency.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:03 pm

This week's news:

On Monday Aug 19, CCSF filed an expected pettion for recosideration with WASC.

On Tuesday Aug 20, activist supporters of CCSF tried to occupy the grand rotunda of SF City Hall. Police were called in and there were 26 arrests.

Also on Tuesday Aug 20, it was announced that negotiations between the State-appointed Special Trustee and American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 (one of the powers that actually run CCSF) had broken down. The Special Trustee and CCSF's Interm Chancellor are asking the State to appoint a mediator. Reportedly, issues include faculty pay, faculty health benefits and class sizes. Both WASC and the State's Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (which made an earlier unsuccesful attempt to assist CCSF when the school got a show-cause ruling from WASC a year ago) report that more than 90% of CCSF's budget goes towards employee compensation and said that was one of the chief areas of concern with the school.

On Wednesday Aug 21, the Californa State Legislature's Joint Audit Committee voted to 'audit' WASC's Community College Commission. A couple of committee members made rather intemperate remarks about WASC and expressed legislative indignation that a private organization was recognized as being able to make accreditation decisions in the first place.

On Thursday Aug 22, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed two new legal actions.

The first was a new city lawsuit brought against WASC's Community College Commission (there's already a union lawsuit) alleging that WASC's actions against CCSF are (as a local news story put it) "retaliation against CCSF's stance that community colleges should remain open and accessible to all students instead of adopting an approach encouraging students to complete degrees". The city is demanding that the court issue an injunction vacating the Commission's decision to revoke accreditation.

The second city legal action filed Thursday was against the statewide community college system's Board of Governors, accusing it of "unlawfully ceding its public duties" to what Herrera called "a wholly unaccountable private entity".

WASC told reporters that they were "surprised" to hear about the city legal actions and called them "without merit and an attempt to politicize and interfere with the ongoing accreditation review process".

The State's community college Chancellor's Office said on Thursday that CCSF shouldn't become a battleground in the fight around accreditation. Spokesman Paul Feist said, "The Statewide Chancellor's Office is focused on supporting City College as it moves forward to becoming a more susteinable institution of higher learning. Regardless of one's views about the ACCJC, by its own admission City College did not meet the standards that all 112 community colleges in California have agreed to meet." Feist also pointed out that the State's Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team, a state agency set up to help state-funded colleges and universities deal with difficulties associated with the recession, independently verified many of the problems that WASC had identified at CCSF and can verify that those problems persist more than a year after the school was first sanctioned. Feist said, "City College cannot become the battleground in the fight concerning accreditation without sustaining further damage to this important institution".
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Hungry Ghost » Sat Aug 24, 2013 5:03 pm

Rich Douglas wrote:Of course, there is the possibility that the school is right. It wouldn't be the first time WASC ran roughshod over a school within its jurisdiction.


It appears that the Secretary of Education ruled that WASC's community college commission was out of compliance on three grounds.

First, there was a charge that at least one of WASC's site-visit teams that visited CCSF didn't have enough faculty members on it. My understanding is that site visit teams are supposed to include representatives of several concerned groups, including faculty, administrators and whatnot, according to the circumstances, but don't specify numbers. So this one looks like a matter of judgment.

Second, there was an allegation of conflict-of-interest, based on the WASC commission chairwoman's husband being on one of the CCSF site visit teams. (He's apparently a high-level California community college administrator himself.)

And third, there was an allegation that WASC was out of compliance with federal standards saying that action upon serious observed deficiencies needs to take place within two years. Apparently some of CCSF's deficiencies were first noted well over two years before WASC finally came down with sanctions. So this one is basically a complaint that WASC wasn't tough enough on CCSF.

Supposedly on the basis of this, the Secretary of Education informed WASC that their community college commission will be de-recognized in twelve months, unless these problems are addressed to Washington's satisfaction.

Significantly, the Secretary of Education didn't challenge any of WASC's substantive standards or findings concerning CCSF. The Education Department probably doesn't really want to go there, especially since the State of California independently verified a lot of what WASC says. The Feds just seem to be firing a political shot across WASC's bow, warning them that they really need to find a face-saving way to back off, by symbolically giving them the same twelve-month deadline that they had recently given CCSF.

But so far at least, WASC has steadfastly continued to steer their original course and aren't being put off. Hence the blizzard of lawsuits and announcements of California state legislative investigations against them this week. (It's only going to get worse.)

My impression is that WASC really can't back down now. They truly have grabbed a tiger by the tail. This doesn't just concern the survival of a single community college any longer. It's become a much larger battle for the independence of accreditors across the nation from political interference, and perhaps even for the survival of the American accreditation system as we know it.
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Re: Largest California Junior College to Lose Accreditation

Postby Tireman4 » Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:47 am

Interesting. The new chancellor of CCSF is our former deputy chancellor at HCC...


rthur Tyler, a 20-year Air Force veteran and and the man who for a brief time led the now-defunct Compton Community College District, has been chosen as the new chancellor for City College of San Francisco, according sources familiar with hiring efforts.

"I will be at the press conference tomorrow," Tyler said of Wednesday’s official announcement, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at the Ocean Avenue campus.

CCSF special trustee Robert Agrella and California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris are expected to attend as well.

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/ ... id=2604626
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