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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Education & Student Activism | Labor & Workers
UPWA Condemns ACCJC Shutting Down San Francisco City College
United Public Workers For Action has condemned the threat to terminate SF City Colleges Accreditation if it does not fully comply with their privatization agenda. Labor and all working people must act to stop these attacks. It supports a "Mobilize a nation-wide strike of educational workers and students demanding the complete roll-back of privatization."
United Public Workers for Action
July 5, 2013
UPWA Condemns ACCJC Shutting Down San Francisco City College
This week the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) issued its decision to terminate San Francisco City College’s accreditation next summer (2014) if it does not comply with the full implementation of fourteen mandated criteria. This decision means that if City College is not accredited student’s class offerings will not be acceptable to four year-institutions; vocational certificates will not be valid to employers; and, the campus will not receive federal and state funding for student financial aid. Other obvious implications will be: 1.) an immediate decline in student enrollment; 2.) most faculty and staff would be dismissed; and, 3.) firms that depend on City College graduates will see their labor pool dry up. Moreover, the role that the campus has played historically in the community would cease. That role includes helping students improve their education so that they might have economic mobility; providing English as a Second Language courses to non-English speaking residents; and, allowing re-entry students to take classes to become more aware and enlightened about various subjects and ideas.
The UPWA finds the ACCJA decision reprehensible and horrendous. Fundamentally, it is a fatal blow to the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education. This plan was designed to provide: 1.) open access for every eligible person in the state; and, 2.) free education. For example, in the early 1960’s, the cost to attend a Junior College was $7.50 per semester (not per unit), while the cost for State Colleges was $47.50 per semester. The Master Plan was also designed to provide an opportunity for every person in California to earn graduate and post-graduate degrees. Moreover, shutting down City College is a historical step in the privatization and corporatization of public education project; the same project that K-12 schools have been subjected to for decades. The intent of this project is to: 1) privatize public education through corporate management models, eliminating shared governance, curriculum standardization, on-line teaching, distance-learning, and computer-based tutorials; 2) eliminate traditional pedagogic teaching (and where possible tenured teachers); 3) channel students into majors or programs that lead to non-union- low-wage (“middle-skilled”) positions in the United States job market; and, 4) circumvent, and possibly, destroy public teacher unions.
The privatization agenda is promoted by a network of interests, including the Democratic and Republican Party; President Barack Obama; for-profit educational institutions; corporations which profit from so-called “educational reforms;” pro-privatization foundations and think tanks, such as the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, etc.; and, even many leaders of public teacher unions. The Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education, chaired by George Bush’s Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, shaped the criteria for this project. That com-mission, peopled by education profiteers, issued recommendations demanding privatization of Community Colleges, along the lines of Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top. Then, the six national Community College accrediting commissions were forced to adopt those recommendations as criteria in the accreditation process. Finally, the ACCCJC, which is chaired by Barbara Beno, has then used that criteria to threaten Community Colleges to restructure, or be shut down.
San Francisco City College has been made example by the ACCJC because it historically has been a model for an urban-Community College. That is not only because of the traditional educational role of Community Colleges, but also because City College has been able to serve an enormously diverse and huge urban population. SFCC serves over 85,000 students annually. Also, it is because the campus has practiced a de-centralized, democratic, and collegial governance model that is anathema to the top-down autocratic corporate management model. If the ACCJC forced the closure of City College that would intimidate the over 100 Community Colleges throughout the state, and throughout the country, to fall in line, or be shut down. Therefore, it is clear to the UPWA that the ACCJC’s decision was a pre-determined political decision. Currently, approximately 40 percent of California’s Community Colleges are already under some form of sanction by the ACCJC.
The decision to shut down San Francisco City College shows that corporate economic and banking interests and the bi-partisan political establishment is serious in its goal to privatized Community Colleges. It should be now clear to all concerned that public education is in a NATIONAL EMERGENCY; and a radical political response is past due. Without massive direct action by unified teachers, staff, school custodians, bus drivers, students, and parents, it may be too late to alter the trajectory of the privatization of public education project. This implies that the existing public teacher union bureaucracy is not the vehicle that will challenge this project. The United Public Workers for Action proposes the following agenda to organize around:
• Establish an accreditation process aimed to maintain institutional autonomy, peer and professional review, and academic freedom;
• Establish a political education campaign to inform the union rank-and-file, affiliated school employees, and concerned citizens about the roots and implications of the privatization of public education;
• Develop an agenda for the support of public education as a counter to privatization;
• Demand that public education be re-funded, teachers, staff, and affiliated school employees get re-hired, and resources get expanded;
• Mobilize a nation-wide strike of educational workers and students demanding the complete roll-back of privatization;
• Organize to demand that Congress re-affirm public education by purging all standards of privatization while deliberating and passing the re-authoriza-tion of the Public Education Act of 2013;
• Sue the State of California and Governor Jerry Brown for violating the State Constitution which prohibits public money for charter schools and the privatization of public education;
• Call for an investigation and prosecution for criminal financial conflicts of interests all privatizeers, educational agencies, school board members, school district officials, and elected officials who have voted on private contracts that they have benefited from.