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Herrera v. ACCJC, the future of CCSF on the line

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On Monday morning I attended the opening remarks in SF City  Attorney Dennis Herrera vs. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges trial with fellow students, teachers, administrators and public officials.

In July 2013 the ACCJC made the decision to revoke City College’s accreditation, which would have closed the college. In January an SF Superior Court Judge enjoined the ACCJC’s termination of CCSF’s accreditation, pending todays suit. 

Now city attorney Dennis Herrera is fighting to keep CCSF open. Herrera alleges that the ACCJC did not treat CCSF fairly in its accreditation review process. According to Herrera, the push to allow CA junior colleges to grant four year degrees, spearheaded by Barbara Beno, lead to a political backlash when students and teachers refused to change the mission of the college in order to do so. Barbara Beno, president of the commission, is married to a team member who examined the school, and this, according to Herrera created a conflict of interest. Today Herrera’s team  asked “Would a commission member’s spouse on an evaluation team create a conflict of interest?” to which the expert replied, “I believe it does”.

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While the CCSF had instituted many of the changes instructed by the ACCJC, one fact is clear: City College’s financial health is still at risk and we need good board members to ensure we pull through this tough time. 

At its peak in the early 1980’s CCSF had the highest annual enrolment of 140,000 students. Today it provides a quality education for over 80,000. One thing that hasn’t faulted is the quality of education provided at CCSF who outperforms the US on average grad rates. CCSF is vital to San Francisco. A possible closure, according to Alisa Mess a CCSF professor, “I would be devastated. I see what it means n the lives of my students. It would be a huge loss for SF.”

The trial will last through Friday. A member of Herrera’s team spoke with me during a break and pointed out that “win or lose, the City Attorney bringing this case to trial has put City College in a better position.” That’s absolutely true. We are still accredited, the ACCJC was forced to create a new status, “restoration,” to give us 2 additional years to show we are compliant, and all eyes are on this largest community college in California.  #GoGiants, and Go #CCSF.

When I can, I will be at the trial. Please follow me on twitter for live tweeting @theaselby