Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Campaign to Save City College of San Francisco

Save CCSF: We Are City College!
Two campaigns that need funds – Please donate! 
Cartoon by Anthonty Mata for CCSF Guardsman   

We are working to ensure that the ACCJC’s authority is not renewed by the Department of Education this December when they are up for their 5-year renewal. Our campaign made it possible for over 50 Third Party Comments to be sent to the DOE re: the ACCJC. Our next step in this campaign is to send a delegation from CCSF to Washington, D.C. to give oral comments at the hearing on December 12th. We expect to have an array of forces aligned on the other side who have much more money and resources than we do.    So please support this effort to get ACCJC authority revoked!   

Save CCSF members have been meeting with Attorney Dan Siegel since last May to explore legal avenues to fight the ACCJC. After much consideration, and consultation with AFT 2121’s attorney as well as the SF City Attorney’s office, Dan has come up with a legal strategy that is complimentary to what is already being pursued. In fact, AFT 2121’s attorney is encouraging us to go forward.    The total costs of pursuing this (depositions, etc.) will be substantially more than $15,000. However, Dan is willing to do it for a fixed fee of $15,000. He will not expect a retainer, i.e. payment in advance, but we should start payments ASAP. If we win the ACCJC will have to pay our costs.   

Checks can be made out to Save CCSF Coalition with “legal” in the memo line and sent to:   
Save CCSF Coalition   2132 Prince St.   Berkeley, CA 94705   
Or you may donate online: []

"Saving City College of San Francisco; Stakes high in faculty contract negotiations"
2013-10 by Bob Price, PhD from "Freedom Socialist" newspaper []:
Bob Price, a chemistry professor at City College and member of AFT 2121, can be reached at
Like David fighting Goliath, City College of San Francisco (CCSF) faculty are in a pitched battle to protect their union, their students, and their school from destruction. They are up against big-business forces pushing to downsize or close community colleges so that profit-making schools can take over. Corporate foundations have lobbied to bring the California Chancellor for Community Colleges, and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) on board with their “reform” agenda.
 Faculty contract negotiations are now the critical front in a fifteen-month war to undermine the acclaimed college that serves 80,000 students. To win, it is imperative that faculty members mobilize their union, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121, to take militant action, including striking if necessary.
Attack spurs fight-back. Privatizers put the school and the union in a stranglehold in July when the ACCJC declared it would yank CCSF’s accreditation in summer 2014. The statewide chancellor followed this with a coup — dismissing the elected Board of Trustees and appointing a Special Trustee — a czar with unlimited power. The Save CCSF coalition, in which FSP and Radical Women representatives have played a key role, organized a rousing response. Students, faculty, staff and community members marched 3,000-strong to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) San Francisco office.
 After months of agitating with rallies, pickets, teach-ins, sit-ins, and press conferences, the tide began shifting against the corporatists. In response to a complaint filed by the union, DOE announced that the ACCJC is operating in violation of its own rules, with possible conflicts of interest. A state legislative committee ordered an audit of the accrediting agency and its practices. The San Francisco City Attorney filed lawsuits against the ACCJC and California Community College Governors to halt revocation of the school’s accreditation.
 Meanwhile, the faculty contract expired in December 2012. In July, the administration implemented a 5 percent permanent pay cut without negotiation. The last time AFT members got a raise was 2007 — accounting for inflation, their wages are down 19 percent. So, it’s no surprise that negotiations have reached impasse. Besides the slashed wages, administrators demand new contributions to retiree healthcare and the right to cancel any class without explanation.
Union key to maintaining quality public education. Management’s demands have far-reaching ramifications for students. A selling point of CCSF has been its strong faculty. Now, with the lowest salaries among San Francisco Bay Area community colleges, CCSF can no longer attract or retain the most talented and committed educators. Handing administrators the ability to cancel any class for any reason would leave registered scholars in the lurch and lead to a downward enrollment spiral. State funds, based on student numbers, would shrink, reducing class offerings even more. By rejecting concessions, AFT 2121 can maintain access to excellent courses and teachers.
 Victories would also build steam for winning back classes and services already axed for thousands of undergraduates. Last winter’s firing of dozens of academic counselors and part-time instructors has especially affected adult education classes, including English as a Second Language. Ethnic studies have been hurt by cuts to department chairs’ hours. Although AFT’s contract doesn’t directly address these areas, a strong stance sends a message to the privatizers to back off.
 Union-busting tactics are key to any attempt to privatize public institutions. By standing for strong contracts and organizing mass student and community support for pickets, job actions, and strikes, faculty locals like AFT 2121 can build an effective resistance for the long haul. This is what the Chicago public school teacher strike accomplished last year.
 AFT 2121 has taken some important steps to defend its members, the college, and students. The local’s leaders invited members to a round of negotiations in August. A hundred faculty members came in a show of strength against concessions. It was the union’s complaint with the DOE last spring that goaded the agency to cite the illegal behavior of the ACCJC. This was a good tool to push back against the corporate agenda, but the fight cannot be won solely through government agencies or the courts. Now is the time to keep up the pressure. As negotiations wend their way through the final stages of impasse mediation and fact-finding, college management and the corporate raiders are unlikely to back down. At that point, the union may be left with few choices — accept concessions or organize job actions or a strike.
 AFT leadership has discouraged strike talk, and many faculty members may be following their example. But the failure to confront management with a strike, labor’s strongest weapon, would be tantamount to giving up without a fight.
 Local officers also present the battle at CCSF as simply a struggle with the ACCJC, when it’s ultimately about privatization. This obscures the big picture and undercuts militancy. And AFT’s top officials, as in most unions, have close ties to the Democratic Party — a major advocate of corporatized education. So, from national and statewide leaders the word is out to toe the line and put a lid on militancy.
 Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents staff, is certainly no help. It has links to the pro-corporate Campaign for College Opportunity, and has thwarted efforts to involve its members in defending the school.
Rank-and-file and community activism needed. Union members are crucial to building the fight. Those who stand to lose the most from the take-aways are part-time, or adjunct, faculty members, often women and people of color. They, along with their full-time allies, urgently need to mobilize for job actions and a strike if necessary.
 If they are strong and link their demands to promoting student success, San Franciscans stand ready to support them. A neighborhood-based campaign can galvanize support.
 CCSF is a crucial test case. AFT’s battle for a good contract is a front in the whole fight for public education. It’s a struggle that can and must be won.

"CCSF Students Occupy City Hall, 26 Arrested"
2013-08-21 []:
After a rally and sit-in of several hundred students on August 20, at midnight 26 students were arrested for occupying City Hall, after Mayor Ed Lee refused to meet with them or support their demands:   
1) Drop All ACCJC Sanctions Against CCSF  
2) Fire Bob Agrella – End the “Special Trustee” Dictatorship   
Despite the fact that the Department of Education has severely criticized the ACCJC and is threatening to pull its accreditation [], the Mayor has refused to call for the immediate reversal of the ACCJC decision to close the school. The sit-in was prompted by the refusal of Mayor Lee over the past month to meet with students — and during the sit-in the Mayor and his representatives again repeatedly refused to come and meet with the students.   
While the Mayor claims to support City College, in fact he has sided with the corrupt ACCJC institution trying to shut down/downsize the school. Instead of siding with City College, Mayor Lee has openly supported the imposition of a “Special Trustee” dictatorship of Bob Agrella to force through cuts in the name of meeting the demands of the illegitimate and corrupt ACCJC commission. On August 19th, “Special Trustee” Agrella announced he has “chosen not to use the DOE letter in our request for review” of the ACCJC decision, claiming that “the best path to maintaining CCSF’s accreditation is to follow the Commission’s rules, regulations, and directions.” In other words, Agrella is protecting this illegitimate rogue body by not including in the college’s appeal the information most likely to overturn the ACCJC decision (which can only be cancelled on the basis of a failure to follow rules and procedure.) In the name of imposing cuts, Agrella is sabotaging the fight to repeal the ACCJC decision to close City College.   
The struggle against privatization and gentrification continues. Students, teachers, staff and their community allies will continue to mobilize until all sanctions against CCSF are lifted and all cuts stemming from this imposed crisis are reversed. All students are invited to a General Assembly at 4pm this Thursday (8/22) at the Student Union Lounge of the Ocean Campus. Defend Public Education. Save CCSF. Join the Movement. 
To get involved, contact
For text updates send “follow saveccsfnow” to 40404 
Links to More Press Coverage: 

"CCSF trustee turns fiery in retorts to accreditors"
2013-08-14 by Nanette Asimov from "San Francisco Chronicle" []:
Don't argue with the umpire.   
That's been the mantra of City College of San Francisco trustees for a year as they have struggled to satisfy the requirements of a stern accrediting commission without back talk or complaint.      
But now that the commission has said it will revoke the college's operating license next year and state officials have stripped the elected trustees of their decision-making powers, one trustee has broken ranks and decided it's time to get in the umpire's face.  
"The failure here is not City College's but the accreditor's," Trustee Rafael Mandelman wrote Monday in an opinion piece in The Chronicle, in which he argued that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges is causing "real harm" to City College with its requirement that the school come into full compliance with all accrediting standards or lose its right to operate.   
He argues that City College has made substantial progress on its many deficiencies and therefore should not be threatened with the loss of its accreditation. To the commission, however, a college is either in compliance with accrediting standards or not. There is little in between.    
Other college trustees may share Mandelman's views, even showing up at Save City College rallies. But only Mandelman has joined faculty and student activists in freely criticizing the accrediting commission, to the consternation of college officials who are still trying to cooperate with the commission that holds their fate in its hands.  

Removed from committee -
He has already been removed from the committee searching for a permanent chancellor by Robert Agrella, the state-appointed "special trustee with extraordinary powers" who has run the college since July 8 instead of the trustees. (Agrella also removed student Trustee Shanell Williams, who has spoken out against the accrediting commission, and Trustee Anita Grier, who recently told the state college system's Board of Governors that City College didn't need Agrella's help. Trustee John Rizzo has encouraged cooperation with the accrediting process and will remain on the committee.)   
Mandelman, 39, ran for the Board of Trustees last fall on the promise of making the "real and decisive changes" demanded by the accrediting commission. He was the only newcomer elected to the board, which has seven voting members.    
But his views have changed, he said. "I'm now much more sympathetic to the critics" of the accrediting commission. He not only published the opinion piece Monday accusing the accreditors of damaging the college, but also traveled to Sacramento to deliver the same message to the college system's Board of Governors and to its statewide chancellor, Brice Harris.    
"When the institution you care about is struggling for its life, you go into battle mode," Mandelman said.   
He said a turning point for him came in April when a visiting accreditation team quizzed him extensively about an earlier opinion piece he'd published in March rebutting another piece by a former federal education official defending the accrediting commission's strict approach. 

Independent voice -
The visiting team's "take was that my piece was a troubling violation of the accrediting standard that the trustees speak with one voice," he said. (The standard for college governance says, in part: "Once the board reaches a decision, it acts as a whole.")     Mandelman said he understood the standard was meant to encourage effective governance, which he acknowledged was often lacking among the bickering trustees.    But he said he was amazed that the visiting team suggested his essay violated the standard.    "I don't think accreditation requires elected officials to give up their First Amendment rights," he said. "And if that's what the standards require, there's a problem with the standards."    Mandelman said the incident only inspired him to be more outspoken - especially after the commission's surprising verdict on July 3 that it will revoke City College's accreditation next summer.    But it's the kind of talk that has state community college officials on edge.    
"Mr. Mandelman's approach is a little like the auto accident victim on the emergency room operating table arguing with the doctors and nurses over who regulates the hospital. It does nothing to improve the chances of the patient pulling through," said Paul Feist, a spokesman for Harris, the state chancellor who previously served on the 19-member commission composed mainly of educators.  

The wrong message -
Harris has told activists "to take their fight with the accrediting commission somewhere else," because protesting at City College sends the message that trustees, faculty and staff can't be trusted to carry out the changes needed to bring the college into compliance with accrediting standards.     
"I think it's unfair of them to use City College as the sacrificial lamb in this process," Harris said.    
Almost as soon as the accrediting commission announced its decision, Harris and the Board of Governors took over college operations, hoping to achieve what the trustees and two interim chancellors could not.   
Harris replaced the trustees with Agrella, whose unilateral decisions may accelerate improvements and, they hope, win City College the right to stay open. Agrella is also overseeing efforts to get the accrediting commission to reconsider its decision.    
Mandelman has become skeptical.   
"I don't think anyone - including the state chancellor - knows how to solve this problem," he said.

SF Mayor Ed Lee, of the Democrat Party, Appoints an actual Fascist to SF Community College Board
2012-08-22 report by John Coté from "San Francisco Chronicle" []
Making waves: Mayor Ed Lee on Tuesday appointed Rodrigo Santos, a structural engineer who has served on three different city commissions, to fill an open seat on the embattled City College Board of Trustees.
Santos, who was already the top fundraiser out of a field of 10 candidates vying for four spots on the board of trustees in the November election, now holds the seat left vacant after Milton Marks III died earlier this month from a brain tumor.
The appointment gives Santos the trappings of incumbency for about 2 1/2 months before a pivotal election for the college, which faces the threat of losing its accreditation in June because of poor financial management.
Lee said Santos' business background - he co-founded the engineering firm Santos & Urrutia in 1988 - was part of his draw as a trustee to help turn around California's largest public school, with its 85,000 students.
Santos has been criticized by some on the city's political left as a conservative and polarizing figure.
He was registered as a Republican for years before changing his affiliation in 2008 to the American Independent Party, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections. He switched to the Democratic Party in December.
Santos came under scrutiny in 2005 for a potential conflict of interest when he headed the Building Inspection Commission but was also hired as an engineer to help get approvals for a construction project that the city department overseen by the commission had shut down.
Lee dismissed the idea that Santos was a polarizing figure, saying, "The business background that Rodrigo brings to this is really a huge asset for City College."

Note from Dr.G.: The American Independent Party is Christian-Supremacist, and White-American Nationalist, according to their website []. Fascists hate public programs such as public education and public libraries. They want these public resources to be inefficient or privatized, and expensive for the majority of the Public, so that only the wealthy can access knowledge, and everybody else are relegated to being uneducated wage-slaves. Knowledge is Power. Power in the hands of the wealthy... That's fascism.

2012-08-24 "SF City College board takes first step toward scaling back its mission" by Joe Fitzgerald from "San Francisco Bay Guardian"
The first step was taken in changing City College of San Francisco’s educational mission at last night’s Board of Trustees meeting, a decision that would drastically alter what programs the college funds and who it serves.
The college’s mission statement is an overarching funding guideline, according to Gohar Momjian, the college’s accreditation liaison officer []. She presented the mission statement workgroup’s findings to the college’s board and a packed room of faculty and students last night.
Momjian oversees the 15 workgroups responsible for addressing the major areas the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges told the school it has to rectify. A failure to do so by March 2013 could result in the revocation of the school’s accreditation, which is necessary for the college’s degrees to be recognized and for the school to receive federal funding.
Simply put, City College was tasked by the ACCJC to gets its mission in line with current fiscal realities. The workgroups, tasked with brainstorming ways to reshape the college and meet the criteria of the accreditation team’s findings, will use the new mission statement as a guide for what programs are viable, said Momjian.
So what was cut out of the new mission statement? Completion of adult high school diplomas, GED’s (which help students test out of high school), active engagement in the social fabric of the community, lifelong learning, life skills, and enrichment courses were all dropped from the revised mission statement.
In their place was a statement making these things “conditional” on available resources. “In addition, the college offers other programs and services consistent with our primary mission, only as resources allow and whenever possible in collaboration with partnering agencies and community-based organizations,” reads the new draft statement of the college’s mission.
Essentially, the college promises to enrich the community only if the resources are available to do so. Students and faculty from classes geared towards older adults and also disabled students came out to oppose changes to the mission statement, and a loss of their funding.
“We have students that will wait 40 minutes in the rain in a wheelchair for a bus to get to class,” Disabled Students Programs and Services faculty Katherine Brown said to the board.
Shelly Glazer, faculty in the older adults program, left the board with a warning. “Here are the almost 2,000 letters written to the Student Success Task Force when they tried to cut our dollars,” Glazer said, dropping the huge stack of paper on the top of the podium. “They need your support, and you need theirs.”
Importantly, English as Second Language classes and basic skills classes were preserved in the primary mission guideline. “There are compromises made in the mission statement. There are things we can do under [better] conditions,” said Momjian in her report to the board. “That was our compromise.”
The board made a motion to approve the new draft mission statement, and voted unanimously in favor. The board will look at a second revised mission statement on Sept. 11, and take a final vote to amend the mission statement on Sept. 27. The draft mission statement can be read at the City College website here.
Forty-five problem areas were found in City College’s financial structures by a financial consulting group at the same college board meeting last night. The findings left the college board nearly speechless once the report was complete.
The Financial Crisis Management Team, known as FCMAT, was paid for by the state community college chancellor’s office and assigned to City College to help it review its finances. This was good timing with the recent accreditation troubles, but officially has no connection to the recent accreditation team visit or with any direction from the state chancellor’s office, FCMAT Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree told the college board.
Plumbtree and her associate Mike Hill made the presentation to the board on behalf of the four members of the “financial SWAT team,” as they’ve been dubbed by the board in the past. The report it gave to the board that night was only the tip of the iceberg.
“The report itself is going to be in the realm of 65 pages. There are about 45 specific recommendations,” said analyst Mike Hill. “But we do want to give you a sense of some of our observations first, and some of our recommendations grouped together.”
The hit list was read in a bullet point fashion, and as he rattled off each of the findings, the silence in the room deepened:
* The district has made a cost structure over time that can't be sustained in this economy.
* The district opted for short term solutions.
* Employee contracts have been made without long-term analysis.
* Decision making has been made by power and political whim rather than logic and fairness.
* The conduct of key leaders and the culture within the district have greatly diminished the role and the effectiveness of the management team.
* The district lacks data to assess sites.
* The district supports much more faculty than its closest peers.
* There's a history of maintaining a small fund balance, with 90-92 percent of the budget being committed to salary and benefits, the college needs to make adjustments.
* The department chair structure is not cost effective nor administratively sound.
* We're recommending a reduction in full time faculty through attrition.
* We're recommending the district not subsidize categorical programs, and that current subsidies be reassessed (the state cut funding for some categorical programs, like the second chance program, and City College has been eating that cost to the tune of around $20 million a year, according to AFT 2121 president Alisa Messer).
* Consider either elimination of department chairs or diminish them while empowering deans and giving them the ability to act.”
“There's a lot there, it covers a lot of territory, and you need to see the context and data and analysis in order to have informed questions, or else you'll be spinning our wheels,” Hill said to the stunned board.
Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree concluded by cautioning the board against inaction. “The circumstances the district found itself did not happen overnight, decisions made over many years brought you here,” she said. “You're going to have to move quicker than you want to, but that's what's needed.”
“Some of these things are new to me, but some of these things have come up in work groups. Some of these things are things we've known for years,” board President John Rizzo said after the report concluded. Financial administrators at City College declined to comment before the release of the full report. The 65-page final report will be made public on Sept. 18, and given to the college board a few days before that, Plumbtree said.
The City College Board of Trustees motioned to delay one of their most controversial votes at last night’s board meeting.
The board hopes to bring in a “special trustee,” who would be provided by the state, to help guide them through their recent accreditation woes. A special trustee is not simply a guide. A special trustee has veto power over the college board, giving the trustee unilateral decision making powers, according to college officials that night.
Most of the board welcomed the notion of outside help. The board has asked for $1.5 million dollars in cuts that never got made, Rizzo said, arguing for the need for the special trustee.
“It’s an enormous wealth of expertise that we do not have...We need someone from the outside to tell us where that mistake was made,” Rizzo said.
Trustee Chris Jackson wasn’t sure that the board had full knowledge of what it was asking. “I support a special trustee, but I have questions...How long would a trustee be here? What’s the process of asking them to leave?” Jackson asked, to the applause of the audience.
It was student Trustee William Walker who clarified the students’ position. He had a meeting with students the previous day, and they strongly disagreed with bringing in a special trustee to help run the school.
Given the history of special trustees in college districts, it's not surprising why. A report by the LA Sentinel [] shows the discord brought by one special trustee to the Compton community college district, also facing accreditation woes. To read a report of Compton College’s and how it mirrors City College, check out the Guardian report “Saving City College.” []
Special trustee Dr. Genethis Hudley-Hayes, was removed from her position as special trustee by State Community College Chancellor Jack Scott last September, according to the Sentinel article. The article cites multitudes of complaints against her by the community, who wrote a six page letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and Scott asking for Hayes’ removal.
“Who do you serve and why are you here?” Associated Students President Shanell Williams said to the board during its public comment session. “It’s shameful... If you can’t make decisions without a special trustee, then we need a new board.”
Student Kitty Lui said that the board’s decision to bring in a special trustee would undercut the democratic will of the community.
“If you don’t know how to move forward, I don’t know why you’re still here,” she said.
Despite students’ objections, if the board does not choose a special trustee, the likelihood is that one will be imposed on them, Jackson said. The board ultimately decided to shelve the decision until a special meeting on Sept. 11.
Interestingly, the “financial SWAT team,” FCMAT, thinks that a special trustee is a good idea. “To have an outside expert is always good,” FCMAT Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree told The Guardian. “Sometimes, you’re just too close.”

No comments:

Post a Comment