So much for the valiant efforts of a few community college leaders, who tried -- or at least hoped -- to keep San Francisco's 85,000 student City College afloat. Today the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges voted to revoke the school's accreditation in a year, saying it's failed to address serious concerns about academic programming and fiscal management.
That means the school has one year to shape up, and it won't do so under its current leadership, says California Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris. In a brittle video message issued today, Harris described the loss of accreditation as a "death penalty" for City College, because it would strip students of their ability to transfer credits, while preventing the school from receiving state or federal financial aid. "We cannot allow that to happen," Harris admonished.
But he and other commission members don't trust the school's current board to fix things on their own, especially given their poor track record. At this point, the The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office will appoint its own special trustee to step in and clean house. City College's current board of trustees will no longer have any decision-making powers.
"A bold plan of action is needed to rescue City College," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who openly supported the plan and expressed "deep disappointment" over the school's inability to right itself over the past year. He agreed with the commission's report citing a lack of financial accountability, lackluster student services, poor leadership, barren libraries, and other deficiencies that inhibit the learning environment.
Of course not everyone agrees with those pronouncements. In April the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed a complaint
with the ACCJC, in which it essentially accused the agency of being drunk with power. Teachers accused the ACCJC of overstepping its own rules -- and federal law -- when it slapped City College with a "show cause" sanction in 2012. A statement on CFT's website says ACCJC has abandoned its commitment to quality control, and instead taken pleasure in doling out sanctions.
We're still waiting on an official comment from CFT regarding today's decision.
City College of San Francisco is the largest community college in the nation, and one of just a handful of affordable higher education options left in the Bay Area. The school has until July 2014 to appeal ACCJC's decision, lest it lose accreditation for good. In that case, it would likely shutter.