(San Francisco, CA) - Flanked by faculty and students from City College of San Francisco (CCSF), Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) announced that he will push reforms to prohibit the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) from charging community colleges additional fees in order to finance its growing legal bills.
The ACCJC faces a lawsuit brought by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, challenging the commission's controversial decision to revoke City College of San Francisco's (CCSF) accreditation. The commission has already billed each of California's 112 community colleges for related litigation costs - about $1,000 per college on top of the dues they pay to the commission. Six months later, with the case now in trial, ACCJC's legal expenses are ballooning and it is expected to push these additional costs onto colleges.
"The commission's blank check mentality has to stop," said Ting. "It is pushing education funding out the classroom and into the courtroom. Every reform option must be on the table, and ACCJC should take the hint. We need an accreditor focused on students and solutions to conclude City College's accreditation process. Absent such basic priorities, we need to protect precious education dollars from being squandered."
Ting identified two key reform objectives to pursue when the Legislature reconvenes. He wants to prohibit ACCJC from sending its litigation bills to our community colleges and to require the commission to routinely disclose all litigation costs and the funds used to pay for them.
"City College cannot be replaced," said Tim Killikelly, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121 which represents faculty at the college. "The quality of education at CCSF has never been at issue. The evidence shows that our students outperform their peers at other community colleges. We are asking for basic fairness. A fair and transparent accreditation process is all that we are asking for. Instead the actions of the ACCJC has led to the course we are on. We want this accreditation crisis to end. We just want to get back to our jobs, which is providing a high quality public education to the people of San Francisco."
"We want to pursue our studies in peace," said Bouchra Simmons, President of the Associated Students at the Downtown Campus of CCSF. "Instead, we live and learn under constant threat that the college may close. Thousands of students depend on the school and deserve much better than this. We need our accreditor to acknowledge that most of us have no alternative than City College to get ahead. This tragedy is our struggle."
Last May, Ting inserted a similar provision into the Assembly version of the state budget but it was stricken from the adopted budget. An independent state audit subsequently released concluded that ACCJC imposes sanctions more often than peer accrediting institutions across the country and that ACCJC has treated other colleges more leniently than City College when doling out sanctions. Between 2009 and 2013, ACCJC sanctioned 53% of colleges while its six peer institutions sanctioned between an average of 12%.
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