U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi offered a compelling statement of support for our City College at a press conference at Chinatown North Beach campus on Monday, January 6th. Setting aside her prepared remarks, she said emphatically, “Make no mistake; this is of the highest importance.”
Pelosi joins an increasing legion of public leaders in scrutinizing the ACCJC’s actions: “We think what has happened here is highly unusual. It’s not something that will be ignored.” She pointed out the inability of the U.S. Department of Education to act regarding the commission’s actions, but went on to say that the ACCJC’s actions at CCSF were irresponsible. Pelosi also noted that accreditation matters have the attention of the California Congressional delegation, and went on to assure the crowd that the ACCJC would be “subjected to really harsh scrutiny.”
Along with SF Supervisors, several speakers shared how City College has touched their own lives and impacted generations of San Franciscans. Fire science instructor and AFT 2121 member Fred Chavaria told of his own educational and career journey, from 20 year-old vet to City College student to probation officer and on to a Ph.D and back to City College. “I want to impress on you that my story is not unique, and I’m not special,” Chavaria said. “I am merely one example of the return on investment that the taxpayers of California supported by ensuring that public education is both affordable and accessible.”
Jenny Lam, speaking for community partners Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Move City College Forward Coalition, who organized the event, was clear in her message to the accreditors, who meet this week in Sacramento: “We demand that the Commission acknowledge the tremendous progress that has been made by City College…. It’s time the Commission make a new decision.” ACCJC, Lam pointed out, “has the power to change its decision now.”
Lam also looked to the lawsuits and the recent injunction, which gathered tremendous applause from the crowd, and thanked San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and AFT 2121 and CFT “for filing lawsuits and raising important questions about transparency and clarity from the accreditation commission,” calling for “more sunshine and light.”
Because of the accreditation crisis, Lam warned, funding stabilization “needs immediate attention.” She called on legislators and Gov. Brown to shore up the loss of enrollment funds for CCSF in the coming months.
“It is critically important that people understand that City College is open and is going to be open for years and decades to come,” said CCSF Trustee Rafael Mandelman, noting that enrollment is down more than 20%. “The people should come back, and we need them! It’s actually a civic act, a patriotic act showing your love for San Francisco right now to enroll in a class at City College.”