City College SF Takes Rogue Accreditation Agency to Task in Sacramento

Hundreds of faculty and community college advocates from around the state converged on Sacramento’s Citizen Hotel Friday, June 6th to mark the Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community College’s (ACCJC) semi-annual meeting. In a spirited protest outside the hotel, faculty and classified staff and students and alumni claimed their own colleges pinning on personalizing “I am…” hearts.

After performances and sign-alongs, the crowd heard from speakers from all over the state—including Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego—as well as representatives from Assm. Tom Ammiano and Phil Ting’s offices. Speakers expressed concern not just for CCSF’s future, but for our whole community college system given the ACCJC’s out-of-control behavior. Several repeated a common concern about the unfairness of ACCJC, asking, “Who will be next?”

Afterwards, protesters lined the streets outside the hotel and passed out literature about just a few of the ACCJC’s misdeeds. You can download the flyer here.

Inside, during the brief time permitted for public comment during the not-terribly-public meeting (only about 20 members of the public were permitted entry), numerous faculty and community advocates spoke on behalf of CCSF, though the only information from commission members was to caution that the members were not permitted to comment in response, particularly on any given college. (This is perhaps a new policy, as a year ago commission members grilled and lectured commenters.)

AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly read a prepared statement (download his testimony) to commission members, addressing them individually and collectively, and asking whether commissioners were really dedicated to the destructive path that their leaders had set. Killikelly reported on his message and more in this in-depth KQED Newsroom segment from Friday evening:

Also during the brief public comment at the ACCJC meeting, at her request, we presented the commission with a letter from Congresswoman Jackie Speier urging the ACCJC to put its house in order and questioning the commission’s explanations for why it cannot rescind the decision to disaccredit CCSF or extend the timeline:

“The timeline from when the college was out of compliance could not reasonably be interpreted to be 2006. The ACCJC itself extend accreditation to City College in 2006, and for more than two year. How could an institution be accredited for more than two years at the same time that a two year clock began ticking? It makes no sense.

“I think that the danger to the ACCJC’s credibility, and thus to its own accredtiation, arises from capricious interpretations of its own procedures.”


(Download Congresswoman Speier’s full letter here)

After public comment ended, CFT President Josh Pechthalt, AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly, and 2121 past president Alisa Messer returned to report back to those on the outside who had just finished lunch. In this quick video, Messer describes how commission leadership, who had a few additional chairs brought in and extended the planned public comment a bit beyond the agendized 15 minutes, seemed to be on its best behavior. (No recordings are permitted in the ACCJC’s public meetings, but this includes some snapshots that were taken inside the room.)

Much has been made of apparent changes to ACCJC’s policy on terminating accreditation, changes that ACCJC approved, but did not discuss, later in the public meeting. Though the commission’s own guidelines require documents to be available to the public in attendance at the “public” portion of its meetings, the commission did not provide or disclose any information, leaving only speculation as to the nature of any these changes or whether they might impact CCSF’s future. One thing is certain, however: eyes are on the ACCJC, and if and when it makes some adjustments to its outrageous actions against City College, the public pressure and significant scrutiny will need to continue all who care about the future of CCSF and California’s community college system.