Capital attacks the multitudes in so many ways and places it is sometimes hard to keep up. City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is a fine example of the insidious nature of the Empire and its war to remold all of us in its own image...or to just shove us aside.
Well, working and poor folks can't just let this stuff happen. You know the tired old slogan, where there is oppression there is resistance, well that tired old slogan has become a reality to the multitudes of San Francisco.
Wait a minute you say, I don't know anything about this City College or what is going on. Back up...
How to Save CCSF will explain for me:
Why is CCSF under threat?
CCSF is widely acknowledged to be one of the best community colleges in the country. The current "crisis" is largely the artificial creation of the accreditation commission (ACCJC), which itself acknowledged that the education and student success rate at CCSF is excellent. While funding has been cut by $50 million dollars over the past five years, CCSF has prioritized keeping classes open and preventing major layoffs. Now the ACCJC says that in order to receive accreditation CCSF must cut classes, programs, and wages, narrow the Mission Statement, end democratic decision-making (i.e. "shared governance"), lay off department chairs, hire more administrators, and put more money into the reserve. If accepted, these proposals would drastically undercut the quality and accessibility of our community college. This is an attack on tens of thousands of Bay Area residents, particularly from communities of color.
What is the ACCJC?
The ACCJC accreditation commission is an unaccountable privately-controlled and privately- financed body. Its funding comes from large foundations seeking to privatize and downsize public education for the benefit of private education providers. Its parent organization (WASC) recently received $1 million from the Lumina Foundation and $1.5 million from the Gates Foundation for this purpose. Far from being neutral, accreditation has been transformed into an undemocratic instrument to blackmail schools into accepting austerity. From 2003 to 2008, the ACCJC sanctioned 37 percent of California’s community colleges; in the same period, other community college accrediting bodies across the country sanctioned only zero to six percent. Now 25% of California Community Colleges are under sanction. This is unacceptable.
Isn't there a real budget crisis?
Yes and no. It's true that there's been a statewide budget crisis in the past years, due to the fact that the rich and corporations do not pay enough in taxes and because so much of the budget goes to prisons. But in the Fall, SF voters passed Proposition A to bring $16 million dollars each year to fund classes and programs at CCSF. They also passed Prop 30 statewide, which will bring in $376 million to the community college system. But now the new CCSF Chancellor and Special Trustee (who is paid $1000 dollars a day) are refusing to use the Prop A funds for funding classes and programs! This is illegal and immoral. In the short term, the budget issue can be resolved by using Prop A and Prop 30 funds to go directly to education as the voters intended. Any additional budget gap needs to be filled by the intervention of SF City Hall, for example by offering the school a no interest "bridge loan." The only long term solution for education is to raise more revenue by making the rich pay.
Doesn’t CCSF need accreditation?
Yes, but it's not true that the only way to stay accredited is to blindly accept all of the ACCJC's impositions. It is possible to pass accreditation and prevent any cuts to CCSF. This can be done by building a mass movement of students, faculty, staff, and community members to demand that the Prop A funds be used for education and to call on City Hall to intervene to save our school. In the process we can expose ACCJC's hidden agenda. It is the accreditation process -- not CCSF -- that needs to be overhauled. Accreditation should not be in private hands: it must become public, democratic, and transparent.
People have written letters, articles, signed pledges and taken to the streets, students, educators, concerned citizens and community residents all together. Education is a right or it sure as hell should be. Education should not just be reserved for the privileged and it should not exist purely for the benefit of Capital. It should not exist purely to create the cogs the Empire's machine needs to run smoothly. Education should be about freeing people, about uplifting them, about expanding their humanity, about wonder and joy, about creativity, about helping people, helping working people build the world of tomorrow, their world of tomorrow, today.
Benign sounding foundations, charitable organizations have secretly (or not) joined together with bankers and corporations, with finance capital targeting community colleges all over the country. Danny Weld writing at Daily Censored says:
The smash and grab policies of the money class are transforming the community college system into a top down, hierarchical governing system that will eliminate humanities, liberal arts, music and critical thinking in favor of a school-to-work programs that favor industry and Wall Street at the expense of students, faculty and staff. The means to the end is the “Shock Doctrine’ we see played out all over the world (http://www.isreview.org/issues/71/feat-disasterschooling.shtml); basically, creating and/or capitalizing on a crisis in funding and in the minds of the public to decimate any shared governance of the community college systems, while reducing student access through two-tiered toll booth systems of admission and class access. The actors in this obdurate and cruel hoax are the same well heeled Wall Street minions who seek to both assure students get no opportunity to think critically about their place in the world and to gobble up the $650 billion dollar industry that is “education”.
Tucked under the logo of “progress’, reactionary forces like The Lumina Foundation have been at the forefront of eliminating both shared governance, lowering staff to student ratios, increasing ‘online earning’ in place of real life learning and peddling the idea that more graduates from college are needed to compete with the emerging Chinese Empire. Clothed in mendacity and soaked in billions of dollars, this attempt to corporatize and privatize all learning is now in full swing, aided and abetted by ACCJC, the accrediting agency for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, itself a private corporation with no accountability to the public it purports to serve.
I will leave you with words of one Becca Hoeksta of the Guardsman (a newspaper which reaches out to CCSF nine campuses and their surrounding communities):
...I understand why so many teachers and students are upset with the accreditation commission. The accreditation process is just another arbitrary step in the educational bureaucracy – this system propped up entirely by its own self-importance, and not its effectiveness. Shutting down a massive, edifying facility like City College is the exact opposite of effectively educating.
The accreditation commission upholds the Capitol’s standards. Twenty percent of California’s schools don’t meet them. Even if those schools are doing exactly what the needs of their community call for, if they don’t fulfill the standardized, cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all requirements assigned to them from these almighty officials, they can’t be seen as worthy.
As a community college, the community – us – our diverse population of immigrants and city natives, our labor unions, our lifetime students, and every single one of our educated minds knows how to run our school best. Far better than some private agency that would threaten to close our school with almost no prior warning.
City College represents the radical notion that everyone – every single one of us – is capable of governing themselves and collaborating for the good of all – if granted our right to education and given the means to do so.
We can save City College.
I sure hope so as the fight at CCSF is not just a local one. It isn't even just a national one. Like everything else today, this fight is a global one.
The following is from the San Francisco Bay View.