Sometime soon we should hear the results of the "Review" of the Accrediting Commission (ACCJC) decision to terminate accreditation of City College San Francisco (CCSF). The official review request was submitted by CCSF Administration around the end of August. According to ACCJC policy, a three person panel should have considered the request and made a recommendation to ACCJC for decision at their January meeting.
I believe there is a good chance, say 50%, that ACCJC will decide to revoke the decision to remove accreditation. Why? One reason is because ACCJC is under increasing scrutiny and their methods and operations are being examined by people who are not intimidated by them. An objective examination of ACCJC's regime will expose their misdeeds and bias. One way for ACCJC to try to ease the coming scrutiny is to start reversing their decisions against CCSF. ACCJC decisions have always been politically influenced and no less now.
Another reason is because the ACCJC evaluation of CCSF was found to be out of compliance with federal regulations by the top authority, the Dept of Education. How can the ACCJC decisions be correct if the evaluation and review was faulty? This seems to be a clear and persuasive argument. We do not know if Super Trustee Agrella used this argument in his request for review because that request was deemed "confidential". Based on Agrella's submissive behavior with ACCJC, probably he did not. But it may not matter. If ACCJC recognizes that the law suits against them have good chance of success, and if they fear ever closer inspection by state and federal agencies, it will clearly make sense for them to reverse the last decision.
THE INCREASING SCRUTINY OF ACCJC
Following are some of the ongoing and coming examinations of ACCJC:
* California State Audit of ACCJC
is under way. The scope includes examination of the costs to community colleges to comply with the ever increasing accreditation demands and the legality of their operations, lack of transparency, etc.. Results of the audit are expected by June.
* The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) review
in December ended with a recommendation to the Dept of Education which requires ACCJC to come into compliance and rectify "all issues in the staff report" within the next twelve months. The staff report
lists two pages of "issues and problems" with ACCJC policies and actions. These include errors in due process, conflict of interest and composition of review teams. ACCJC also needs to start meeting the Basic Eligibility Requirement that their "standards, policies, procedures and decisions to grant or deny accreditation are widely accepted". According to NACIQI Executive Director Griffiths, ACCJC authorization has NOT been renewed. It has been extended and they need to rectify all deficiencies before it will be renewed.
* Legal Actions against ACCJC
are going forward. On January 2 Superior Court Judge Karnow issued a temporary injunction preventing ACCJC from removing accreditation from CCSF until AFTER the court proceedings. The judge further said he is going to expedite the cases. Some analysts believe the judge's explanation confirms the strength of the legal action against ACCJC. But that is not all: There is yet another law suit underway by Save CCSF. ACCJC is now having to defend itself on these three legal fronts.
Significantly, there is a favorable legal case
on the other side of the US where a Virginia judge overturned the accreditor's decision and fined the accrediting agency.
* Political Probes
and inquiries with the Dept of Education. In the last few months the tide has clearly turned and elected officials are responding to the urgent requests of voters. Powerful congressional representatives (Eshoo, Speier and Pelosi) have come to CCSF's defense and explicitly said the ACCJC actions have been "irresponsible". They are pressing for "the highest scrutiny" of ACCJC by the Department of Education.
CCSF LESS STRONG
Meanwhile, CCSF continues to stagger from 20 months' negative news and an outside appointed administration which has little connection to the community or college. Students are wondering what's happening., with many heading elsewhere. Faculty and staff are demoralized with more work, less pay and outside appointed "senior administration" accumulating more power and pay. The Board of Trustees was made powerless, with all authority in the hands of the appointed "Super Trustee" Agrella who acknowledges that he had no idea of CCSF's deep roots and connections with the SF community.
Last week there was an uproar when it was revealed that there would be a Friday night meeting to officially authorize a 19% increase in payscales for senior Administrators. Agrella cancelled the meeting but the newly appointed Chancellor Tyler has indicated the salary increases have already been given or promised to senior Administrators.
Enrollment is way down. There are reports of big problems registering for classes, possibly due to newly installed software. The administration is cutting classes, even some with a sufficient number of students. Tuition is being raised for some students and administration is apparently enforcing a new policy where all fees need to be paid within 24 hours of registering.
While the number of senior Administrators and their salaries goes up, the number of classes, students, teachers and their salaries go down.
The outside appointed administration is focused on the "Roadmap to Success" which is a spreadsheet listing the tasks involved in meeting ACCJC's "Standards" where the college was deficient. Some of the tasks are clearly worthwhile but there is an excess number of reports, reviews and models of questionable value. That's because "Accreditation Standards" are not what most people think. These are simply ACCJC standards, initially created in 2002, mostly by and for administrators. ACCJC's "Accreditation Standards" were revised in 2012 and the review must have been near non-existent because there are many typos and grammatical errors in the policy. (See bottom for examples.)
Meanwhile priority tasks at the college are not being dealt with. Why in the world is the Administration making it more difficult for students to enroll? Why are they cancelling classes with a sufficient number of students?
Here is another example of the misplaced Administration priorities: When one looks at the CCSF home page there is an important link offering "Financial Aid Opportunities Still Available". Surely this is the kind of thing that prospective students would really want to look at. Today, January 28, the link goes to an out-of-date August 1 letter referring to classes starting August 14. Why hasn't this been updated to be current?
THE REAL STRENGTH OF CCSF
The newly appointed administration has heavily publicized the volunteer cleanup efforts at CCSF. Those events are OK but superficial. The real strength of CCSF is shown by the teachers and students who have done hundreds of hours of community outreach and enrollment recruitment. It's shown in the eloquent testimonies of students and faculty who went to Washington DC to express their love for City College and outrage at the destructive actions of ACCJC. See what they had to say here
It's because of these people and the community support, generally resisted by the outside appointed "leaders" of CCSF, that politicians are coming on board and the law suits are advancing. Great credit is owed to the teachers' union AFT2121 and their legal action which made the original formal complaint to the Dept of Education. Their complaint resulted in the Dept of Education determination confirming it's not CCSF which is out of compliance with federal regulation, it's the Accrediting Commission.
"Accreditation Standards" a la ACCJC
ACCJC's "Accreditation Standards" were created in 2002. The standards were revised in June 2012. Apparently there was little or no serious review because the document has many typos and grammatical errors which would have been noted and fixed if there was a review. Six months later, in November 2012, ACCJC published the "Edited" Accreditation Standards with errors corrected.
B1. "The institution maintains an ongoing, collegial, self-reflective dialogue about the continuous improvement of student learning institutional processes." (missing AND)
B2. "The institutional sets goals to ..... " (should be INSTITUTION)
B3. "Evaluation is based on analyses both quantitative and qualitative data." (missing OF)
A1. "The institution demonstrates that all instructional programs, regardless of location of means of delivery." (incomplete sentence)