This letter was sent by the Steering Committee of the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education to the leadership of the faculty bargaining unit at the City College of San Francisco after the regional accreditation agency announced that the college had not made sufficient progress toward correcting the deficiencies identified by the accreditation team and, consequently, CCSF’s accreditation would be revoked at the end of this next academic year.
As the result of widespread protests that the accreditation agency’s decision was not just arbitrarily harsh but also, at a time of great fiscal crisis, reflective of skewed standards that would sacrifice sustained student access to instruction to what amounted to expanded administrative spending, the Department of Education intervened and put the accreditation agency on notice that its mandate as such an agency is in jeopardy.
Although that announcement was very welcome, the issue remains formally unresolved. Therefore, I think that it is very important to maintain attention on this issue to insure that this individual college, whose leadership tried to make the right choices in giving instructional spending priority over administrative and ancillary spending, is not penalized for those choices. Moreover, I believe that this case is a focal event—even a watershed event—in the growing push-back against the relentless corporatization of higher education.
AFT Local 2121
We are writing to express our solidarity with you and your members, as well as the students and staff at San Francisco City College. We were shocked and angered by the recent decision of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to withdraw accreditation effective July 2014. As a faculty and staff coalition concerned with the future of higher education, we see this decision against one of the premier community colleges in the United States as a tragedy both for the community you serve and for the future of higher education in our country.
In our view, the Commission’s decision runs counter to so many facts about City College and the quality higher education it provides. Your campus’s public track record of providing access and excellent service to your community is remarkable; and the high quality of your programs has been cited repeatedly, in the New York Times 2007 listing of best community colleges in the United States, for instance, and in the Commission’s own report.
Your union and your campus are also to be commended—not punished–for having made City College a good place for faculty to work, despite the high cost of living in San Fransisco. In fact, you are a model of faculty employment with an admirably high percentage of full-time faculty and a part-time faculty that enjoys reasonable wages, benefits and some modicum of job security and preference for upgrading to those full-time jobs. We applaud you for having created these quality working conditions for faculty, which have been essential in creating high-quality learning conditions for City College students.
We also applaud you and your campus for keeping shared governance and democratic management alive–despite the past thirty years of budget cuts and pressure to “do more with less.” In our view, this too is an important principle in quality higher education that your campus has put into practice.
In short, City College, your academic programs, as well as your faculty and staff organizations, have played an important positive role locally and nationally. We are dismayed at the virtually unprecedented series of actions undertaken by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Please let us know how we can help you in your continued fight for quality higher education at City College.
Campaign for the Future of Higher Education
The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education [http://futureofhighered.org/ ] is a loose association of the major faculty unions and faculty associations in the United States. These groups have come together several times each year to share information on issues affecting high education and to shape responses to those issues that emphasize the paramount importance of instruction. I encourage you to become more involved in this national advocacy group.
Other CFHE re-posts that I have made to this blog have included:
The Business Model for Higher Education: http://academeblog.org/2013/07/01/the-business-model-for-higher-education/
CFHE Report on Contingent Faculty: http://academeblog.org/2012/09/16/cfhes-report-on-contingent-faculty/
CFHE’s Response to President Obama’s August 22, 2013 Plan for Higher Education: http://academeblog.org/2013/08/25/cfhe-response-to-president-obamas-august-22-2013-plan-for-higher-education/
CFHE Statement on California Senate Bill 520: http://academeblog.org/2013/04/26/cfhe-statement-on-california-senate-bill-520/
The Cold Facts about Higher Education and Contingent Faculty Appointments: http://academeblog.org/2013/05/07/the-cold-facts-about-higher-education-and-contingent-faculty-appointments/
College Educators from across the U.S. Take on Ways Online Classes Can Help or Wreck a Student’s Chances at a Good Education: http://academeblog.org/2013/05/20/college-educators-from-across-u-s-take-on-ways-online-classes-can-help-or-wreck-a-students-hopes-for-a-good-education/
Funding Higher Education: The Search for Possibilities: http://academeblog.org/2013/02/07/funding-higher-education-the-search-for-possibilities/
Join the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education: http://academeblog.org/2013/06/24/join-the-campaign-for-the-future-of-higher-education/
Letter from the CFHE Steering Committee to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation: http://academeblog.org/2013/06/25/letter-from-the-cfhe-steering-committee-to-the-committee-on-institutional-cooperation/
More Bad Ideas from Florida on Higher Education: http://academeblog.org/2013/05/09/more-bad-ideas-on-higher-education-from-florida/
Who Needs a Liberal Education These Days: http://academeblog.org/2013/05/10/who-needs-a-liberal-education-these-days/