Crisis threatens survival of City College

Concern about City College of San Francisco’s fate swelled Tuesday as Mayor Ed Lee addressed the Board of Supervisors hours before a planned march to rally support for the school.

The mayor called on San Francisco Supervisors to stand in solidarity with the college and to support Robert Agrella, the special trustee placed in charge of rehabilitating the school:

 “Our city college is one of the most important institutions for working class folks.”

Two hours later, City College supporters hosted a rally at their downtown campus at Fourth and Mission, marching down Mission to the U.S. Department of Education on Beale Street where about a thousand sign-waving supporters cheered speakers voicing support for CCSF.

The crisis comes as the college attempts to handle the deepening crisis heralded by the possible cancelling of CCSF’s accreditation status.

The California Community College’s Chancellor’s office appointed Agrella to rehabilitate the school after accreditation was yanked last week.

The commission says that despite a series of changes forced on the college through the threat of closure — including pay cuts, layoffs and cuts in student services — the college still faces serious problems including abhorrent money management.

This decision comes as the school’s educational reputation has sunk from its one-time rating as one of the best community colleges in the nation.

The board of trustees, now with only advisory power, can simply sit and watch as the CCSF struggles to meet the demands of the commission.

85,000 students attend the school, with about 20 percent transferring to four-year colleges, according to Supervisor Jane Kim, who addressed the mayor during today’s supervisor meeting:

 “What reassurances can you give based on your ongoing coordination with the State Chancellor about maintaining the critical scope of educational services…that this vital public education institution has provided to generations of San Franciscans.”

Kim said she’s received a number of calls from concerned constituents about the college’s possible closure.

Many students, faculty and supporters disagree with the commission’s decision, saying the private organization is attempting to drive students into more expensive, for-profit institutions.

They have created a Facebook page to circulate a petition calling for the State Board of Education to dismantle the Accreditation Commission and replace it with a publicly accountable group. The petition calls on the Board to:

 “… reverse the unjust move of the ACCJC (Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges) to cancel City College of San Francisco’s accreditation, the Department of Education must immediately rescind its recognition of the ACCJC.”