Tuesday, April 02, 2013


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.

Taking back City College from the corporations

 – by any means necessary

The fight to save City College comes to Bayview Hunters Point Wednesday, April 3, 6 p.m., Southeast Campus, 1800 Oakdale at Phelps, San Francisco – come learn and get involved

by Tiny, daughter of Dee, Poor News Network
A meeting of the Save City College Coalition will be held Wednesday, April 3, 6 p.m., at the City College Southeast Campus, a beloved landmark in Bayview Hunters Point. The organizers write: “We are inviting teachers, students and community to come and become part of the Coalition to Save CCSF, to keep this college’s doors open and accessible and affordable to the broadest community. Community college belongs to the community, but its existence, as you know, is being threatened, as education across the country, from K-12 to university, is being transformed in the interests of those with wealth and power at the expense of everyone else, especially low income and people of color.”
“These are our young people, our future African-American leaders, trying to fight to get an education, and this is who they are cutting services to,” said City College of San Francisco Student Body President Shanell Williams about the recent cutting of the GED van service that provided transportation from “The Point” (Hunters Point) to CCSF GED prep classes. “This was a tiny program with a minimal budget that meant so much to the community and is typical of the moves being made by the corporate-funded forces attacking our communities’ schools locally and nationally,” Shanell explained.

As a formerly houseless, very poor single mama whose life was truly saved by the affordable education, support services, free child care and so much more I received at CCSF, I have been terrified to watch the orchestrated and systematic attack on CCSF, one of the largest community colleges in the country with a student body of over 90,000 people, unfold. Like the sudden closure of 52 public schools in Chicago and more across the country, it is an act of violence against our poor and working class communities of color. To me its insidiousness and covert under-handedness feels like 21st century corporate COINTELPRO.

“This is their fault; they over-budgeted.” “They were sloppy with their accounting.” “They need to clean house.” One after the other, editors of small, wannabe corporate news agencies spoke a strangely similar party line in a press briefing I was invited to a couple of months back in the early stages of this corporate coup of City College, when weekly hit pieces would appear in the SF Chronicle. As these corporate media editors, albeit smaller and less influential than the Chronicle, were all saying the same thing I wondered how they were all so bought in. And then I did a little WeSearch (poor people-led, not philanthro-pimp led, research).

Like the Monsanto Protection Act, the support for all of this corporate destruction of our communities’ schools can be traced to as high up as the federal government and multi-million dollar mandates to privatize most of public education. President Obama’s 2009 American Graduation Initiative for community colleges is directly from the corporate playbook. The plan includes such privatizing measures as partnering with industries and for-profit schools, transferring loans to private lenders, and funding based on student progress.

One of the main players in the corporate coup is the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) who out of the blue gave City College an “F” and a deadline of March 15 to correct supposed defects or face closure. With Board of Trustees’ approval, a very corporate interim chancellor, being paid $1,000 a day, took a wrecking ball to CCSF – in the name of “austerity.”

Shanell Williams at I-Hotel Manilatown Center Save City College event
Shanell Williams, third from left, a leader since high school, when she served on the influential San Francisco Youth Commission, now leads the fight to save City College as president of its student body. Here she is at a forum to save City College with Trista Barrantes, Eric Blanc, Terrilyn Williams, Tiny, young Tiburcio and Tony Robles. – Photo: Matthew Lew, Manilatown Heritage Foundation
Behind this huge corporate coup is the Illumina Foundation. It was funded by Sally Mae, the student loan and high stakes testing corporation, which, along with 21st century parachute liberal philanthro-pimps, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, “donated” $1.5 million to the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) or accreditation board so a comprehensive Karl Rove-style campaign of disinformation could be launched against the otherwise stellar and problem-free City College of San Francisco.

Why? Perhaps those 90,000 warm bodies would be generating a lot more profits in tuition and whole more student loan debt if they were enrolled in a private college like Heald, University of Phoenix, DeVry and Pepperdine and/or through the multitude of on-line universities being pushed heavily by the digital sweatshop perpetrators, the Gates Foundation.

And of course these kinds of campaigns work. Or do they? Yes, it’s true that since the disinformation campaign was launched, enrollment in CCSF has dropped from 90,000 to 85,000. People are understandably confused and scared. But the people are also mad and the people can only be lied to so much with a lie so blatantly obvious as this one against a college so large and deeply rooted in our community.

“We aren’t going anywhere,” roared the beautiful, multi-colored crowd of thousands of people who gathered on March 14 at City Hall in San Francisco.

“My ethnic studies teacher, my counselor and my women’s studies teacher all received pink slips. They are all about to lose their jobs if this push goes through,” Terrilyn Woodfin, my sister-mama, PNN poverty skolar, reporter and City College student told me. As I did more Wesearch I discovered that not only were massive layoffs being threatened, but administration staff and teachers are being told not to say anything and just go along with the flow to keep their jobs.
Save City College rally City Hall 031413 by PNN
Thousands marched and rallied outside City Hall on March 14 to demand that the City of San Francisco ensure the intact survival of City College. – Photo: Muteado Silencio, Poor News Network
“What makes it so crazy-making is the people are being lied to in so many ways,” Shanell declared, proceeding to describe how Propositions A and 30, giving $14 million and $376 million to save City College, were passed resoundingly by San Francisco and California voters to protect City College. Yet no matter what, the corporate forces say, “It’s not enough,” and proceed with their deadly corporate wrecking ball trying to make sure that our people’s college no longer belongs to the people.

“Whose college? Our College!” The wave of thousands of people’s voices at City Hall rang in our collective ears. If we ever needed to put our bodies in the forefront of this fight, it is now.

Please show up with your bodies and souls to the Southeast Campus of City College, 1800 Oakdale at Phelps, in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco, on Wednesday, April 3, 6 p.m., to get involved and/or go on-line tosaveccsf.org.

Tiny – or Lisa Gray-Garcia – is co-founder with her Mama Dee and co-editor with Tony Robles of POOR Magazineand its many projects and author of “Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America,” published by City Lights. She can be reached at deeandtiny@poormagazine.org. Visit www.tinygraygarcia.com andwww.racepovertymediajustice.org.

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