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Stop the land grabs at Our City College!

accreditation bulliesEducation is not for sale!


Over a month before the accreditation bombshell dropped on City College, the SF Chronicle ran this headline on June 1, 2012:  “S.F. City College can’t afford all its campuses: Trustees may have to close sites to save money, academic standing.” The article quoted the then-president of the college’s Board of Trustees, John Rizzo, saying, “I think we’re going to have to close some. They [the accreditation team] think we have too many campuses.” The Chronicle made no mention of the fact that it was highly unusual for an accreditation agency—charged with assuring educational quality—to advocate that a college “recoup its academic standing” through shutting down campuses, and later repeating in dozens of articles that the college was too “huge,” “a behemoth,” needing to “slim down” (read: serve fewer students on fewer campuses). All this suggests that a leading goal of the accreditation attack has been to downsize City College, justifying a takeover of irreplaceable public land by SF’s powerful real estate/finance industry. What’s hitting City College:

  • Moves to lease 33 Gough for 75 years to build luxury condos, directed by Sen. Feinstein’s huge CBRE real estate corporation. This process was started under complete secrecy during the state takeover, and continues today;
  • The disruptive closure of Civic Center Campus on a half-day’s notice in January 2015, evicting 1700 new immigrant students from their English classes, and clearing the way for real estate development (news alert: our students are not disposable!);
  • Mayor Lee’s railroading through a gentrification plan for the Balboa Reservoir, seeking to remake Ocean in the image of Whole Foods and Avalon. The mayor’s plan—though always hard to pin down—seems to be to build 500 units of mainly luxury condos, destroying many of the existing 1800 parking spaces essential to City College students and teachers, and not addressing the affordable housing crisis at all seriously. Furthermore, this 500-unit monstrosity would disrupt the neighborhood.  The mayor’s planners continue to ignore City College as the centerpiece of this area, as well as the need to complete our Performing Arts Education Center, twice approved by SF voters. See
  • And watch out for possible moves on (1) the Downtown Campus, to benefit the huge 5M real estate development of Hearst Corporation, also owners of the SF Chronicle—the newspaper that is the lead attack dog against CCSF; (2) the Southeast Campus, which the PUC may want to convert into an office building, possibly displacing 400 City College students and teachers.

In 2013, the then-chair of the Democratic County Central Committee, Mary Jung, was hired on as chief lobbyist for the SF Realtors Association, til she was voted off in June 2016—what could be more blatant?

We demand that our Board of Trustees advocate vigorously for these principles:

Public land for the public good, forever!
Our great- great- grandparents paid for and have built up Our City College since 1935.  It rightfully belongs to our great- great- grandchildren, not to the special trustee or the real estate industry! (Doesn’t the 1% EVER have enough?)

Parking is NOT optional at a commuter school!
We need all 1800 existing parking spots to re-build Our City College to full enrollmentcount them, it’s 1800, not 1000; plus we need parking for the Performing Arts Education Center, and 1:1 parking for new housing units. The idea that the tenth-richest city on the globe “just can’t afford” a parking structure would be laughable, if it weren’t drilled into our heads until we believe it.  Parking is not in the plans of the real estate developers, whose priority is to cram hundreds of thousands more people into our small city—that is the real dynamic.

Complete the Performing Arts Education Center!
Twice approved by SF voters, outrageously cancelled by a single man under the state takeover.  (Around the country, state takeovers with their special trustees/emergency managers, are tied to the stripping out of public assets into private hands.)

100% truly affordable housing is possible!
We want to see real affordable housing for teachers, staff, and long-time community residents, including students. Mixed-income construction should be mainly “moderate income” and “low income” units. We oppose even one more luxury condo in Our San Francisco, and we call for far less density than the mayor’s plan for the Reservoir! We seek full participation in real grassroots public planning by legitimate representatives of City College, the Communities United for Health and Justice, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, and all neighbors.

If SF, California and the feds would roll back all the corporate tax breaks and marginally legal tax evasion schemes, we could easily afford 100% affordable housing. Twitter’s epic tax break alone was worth tens of millions of dollars.  Thanks to its tax evasion strategies, Apple—the most valuable corporation in the world–pays only a two percent corporate tax rate, far less than every single person reading this statement.  Can SF find the money to rebuild City College enrollment, assure parking, and make a real advance on affordable housing?  It’s all about political priorities—and what we ourselves will stand for.

LandGrab Flyer v9 FINAL

This flyer was prepared by the Research Committee, based on material from the forthcoming Race, Poverty and the Environment special section on City College. For more information contact Allan Fisher:

Save CCSF Solidarity Statement with the Frisco Five

Our students deserve BOOKS NOT BULLETS!

End the gentrification of Our San Francisco and the destruction of Our City College!


The Save City College Coalition expresses its heartfelt solidarity with the Frisco Five and the struggle to end police terror in San Francisco, the Bay Area, and the US.  These dedicated community members had been on a disciplined hunger strike since April 21 at the Mission Police Station, and were then hospitalized– Cristina Gutierrez, Ilyich Sato, Ike Pinkston, Selassie Blackwell, and Edwin Lindo.    We support the demands of the hunger strike and the call to fire chief Greg Suhr.  To have Suhr continue after the wave of recent killings of Alex Nieto, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, Mario Woods and Luis Gongora would be nothing less than impunity for murder.


The City College community feels these killings very personally:

  • Alex Nieto and Amilcar Perez-Lopez were City College students when they were murdered by the SFPD. In fact, Alex Nieto went to childcare at a City College day care center, a center that was closed down in one of the first actions of the hostile state takeover of City College supported by Ed Lee.  City College Professor Ben Bac Sierra was a mentor and friend to Alex;
  • One of the hunger strikers, Equipto or Ilych Sato, was a City College student;
  • Mario Woods went to Balboa High School.


The young people being killed are from the same Black, Latin@ and marginalized communities being evicted from San Francisco by gentrification and police terror, and from City College through downsizing, student push-out policies, and the degradation of education and educators.


The Save City College Coalition of students, faculty, staff and community people is fighting hard against administration and state policies that seek:

  • The elimination of numerous Diversity Studies classes
  • The administration’s plan to cut 26% of classes from the schedule
  • Policies that push out students with academic challenges—the very students who need City College the most
  • Larger classes that undermine student equity efforts
  • Land grabs of public property such as the disruptive sudden closure of the Civic Center Tenderloin campus that used to serve new immigrants learning English
  • The increase in the proportion of “freeway flyer” part-time teachers without the time to work with students after class


We are fighting hard for a Free City College, so that people like Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, Amilcar Perez-Lopez and Luis Gongora can have BOOKS NOT BULLETS. We are fighting to reclaim both our collective Right to the City, and Education as a Human Right.


Support the Frisco Five Hunger Strike—tell Ed Lee to Fire Chief Suhr and make sweeping changes at the SFPD:, (415) 554-6141 


To receive notification of events by e-mail contact:

An Open Letter to Guy Lease, Chancellor Lamb and the City College Board of Trustees

Stop Hemorrhaging Enrollment at City College:

End the Racist Payment Policy

 In an email on January 26, 2016, Chancellor Susan Lamb announced
the suspension of the harsh payment policy on a trial basis, “based on feedback” (sustained student organizing).       Read more at the end of this memo.

Activists with Save City College and the student Solidarity Committee (composed of Asian Student Union, Black Student Union, MECHA, P.E.A.C.E.–Pilipinos for Education, Arts, Culture and Empowerment) are writing to ask you to place an item on the Board of Trustees agenda ASAP: the current harsh payment policy that was initiated in October 2013, with the first wave of students being evicted from the college during enrollment for spring 2014.[1] Read more

Come to the Save CCSF Coalition General Assembly

Ocean Campus—-MUB 160

February 3, 2016—–5:30-7:30pm

Students after NACIQI hearing - Barbara Beno in background at far left
Students after NACIQI hearing – Barbara Beno in background at far left

Updates on Victories / Continuing Issues

  • NACIQI (DOE) recommendation that gave ACCJC only 6 months to come into compliance
  • Draconian payment policy suspended – thanks to our amazing student organizers
  • A special update on the Alex Nieto case
  • Speaker from the Justice for Mario Woods Coalition
  • Update on reservoir development / PAEC
  • Faculty contract fight

… and MORE

Plug in to the organizing

Our struggle is far from over. We need to rebuild our City College to the open, affordable, accessible and diverse college our students deserve.

Mark your calendars for future GAs

  • General Assembly: March 16, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, MUB 160
  • General Assembly:    April 27, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, MUB 270


The Colossal Deception

  • The colossal deception that has been unfolding since 2012 is unraveling. This deception has its origins in the 2012 decision by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges in California, the ACCJC, to place City College of San Francisco on “Show Cause,” the most severe sanction that can be imposed on an institution short of revoking its accreditation. This decision, and the one that followed a year later, to revoke CCSF’s accreditation a year out in 2014, led to a state takeover of the school, and the imposition of a Special Trustee With Extra Ordinary Powers, or STWEP. In plain English, the STWEP is a lone trustee with dictatorial powers, imposed on CCSF by the State Chancellor and the unelected Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. The elected City College Board of Trustees was suspended and the STWEP was imposed, ostensibly, to save CCSF from loss of accreditation.To watch this grand deception unravel should bring satisfaction to no one, given the destruction left in its wake. No part of CCSF has been left unscathed in this spectacle; no part of it has emerged untarnished. The various corrupt components of the state takeover, and its ineptitude, are now clear and beyond dispute. Over 23,000 students, more than 25 percent of the2011-12 enrollment, have fallen away, including even higher percentages of the most at-risk students. Several departments, especially the Diversity and Social Justice departments, face a continuing and increasing threat to their existence.Some hailed this takeover as a positive step in “fixing” CCSF. This included Mayor Lee, who accepted, without question, the ACCJC’s claim that CCSF was a “failed institution.” The SF Chronicle was also a cheerleader for the now discredited ACCJC and its decision. We were told that, among other positive things, this was an opportunity to bring about changes that would improve the school, and the success of its students, in particular the most marginalized students, notably students of color, working class students, single parents, etc. The adherents of this viewpoint argued that those who were placed in control of the school would replace endemic poor management with good management, and would eliminate haphazard and politically motivated decision making with a process based on integrity and sound judgment. Under the watch of the new regime, we were supposed to see a rational, prudent use of the financial resources of the school in place of alleged financial mismanagement and reckless spending. We were promised an end to wasteful and irresponsible use of finances on such unacceptable things as the alleged unjustifiably high salaries of faculty and classified employees. Thus, the first act in this “responsible” financial policy was to unilaterally cut faculty and classified wages by nearly 12%, while going on to clandestinely increase the salaries of selected administrators to as high as 19%. The second act was to institute an unnecessarily aggressive and draconian payment policy that dropped 9124 students from all their classes over only four semesters, primarily those who are the most vulnerable. (After sustained protest by students and others, this payment policy has been suspended.)

    All of this took place under the autocratic rule of the Special Trustee, shortly promoted to STWEP, and two interim chancellors, the first, incredibly destructive, the second, incredibly inept. The first interim Chancellor, Pamila Fisher, who frequently consulted by phone with Barbara Beno, proposed and pushed through a shell-shocked Board of Trustees, a college “reorganization plan” that included the firing of all of the deans, requiring those that wanted to retain their positions to formally reapply for them. It also involved a “departmental restructuring” that would have effectively destroyed the departmental structure as a whole. Fisher proposed eliminating all but seven of the 62 department chairs. This tremendously disruptive and destructive “reorganization plan” was announced at a time when CCSF had less than eight months to correct 14 “deficiencies” outlined by the ACCJC in their “Show Cause” report. This plan was certain to insure CCSF’s failure in its attempts to retain its accreditation, at least under the conditions set up by the ACCJC. But that didn’t stop the second interim chancellor, Thelma Scott-Skillman, from embracing this “reorganization plan,” and attempting to push it forward. As could be expected, the ACCJC claimed that we had not met the conditions to retain accreditation and that our accreditation would be revoked at the end of July 2014. The State Chancellor then decided that the suspension of the Board of Trustees was necessary to retain CCSF’s accreditation. This suspension was justified on the grounds that the Board was “dysfunctional.”

    The results of this disastrous takeover now scream loudly and tragically for all to see, except, perhaps, those who remain steadfastly determined not to. Viewing all of this through the lens of political history, the whole thing is best understood as a grand coup, typical in its justifications and its promises, and complete with its dramatic, but predictable, failure. Neither the reign of an ordinary Special Trustee, nor that of a Special Trustee with Extraordinary Powers, was able to secure CCSF’s continued accreditation. Both utterly failed. More than this, they wrought havoc on our school. The misuse of district funds that took place under their watch has now come to light .

    Even more damning is the fact that the STWEP was responsible for hiring the now departed chancellor whose use of district funds is in question; that chancellor in turn hired the now departed college president who is implicated along with him in this financial mischief. Nor was this the only administrator hired by the STWEP whose performance turned out to be far less than stellar.

    We now have our Board of Trustees (presumably) back in power, and a Special Trustee who lingers, but whose only role is that of advisor (for which he receives an exorbitant salary). We have much work to do, however, to rebuild a CCSF that continues to remain open, affordable, accessible, and diverse. Our struggle for such a school is far from over. Please join in accomplishing this task.

Report Back from DC – 2015

students at NACIQI
At far left in the background is Barbara Beno talking to three women. In foreground: Students Lalo, JJ, Itzel, Win Mon, Julia, A.D., and Martin


37 of the 41 people who gave oral comments before NACIQI on December 16th offered reasons as to why the ACCJC should have its authorization as a regional accreditor revoked. The comments were heartfelt, data-driven and compelling. Three of the four who spoke  in defense of the commission  were seated ACCJC commissioners, two of whom did not identify themselves as such.

Here are some of the comments offered. (This document will be updated as more commenters send the webmaster their scripts.)




NACIQI’s decision to give the ACCJC six more months to come into compliance was, according to Inside Higher Ed, “the strongest rebukes of an accreditor that the panel typically makes, short of calling on the department to revoke its recognition entirely.”

It was clear from the deliberations that many of the NACIQI members felt that the ACCJC was incapable or unwilling to come into compliance. However, they were fearful of the vacuum that would result if ACCJC were de-listed. If they could have seen an easy path to a new accreditor to replace ACCJC, most likely they would have revoked ACCJC’s recognition.

Brice Harris has asked the Board of Governers to outline a plan by March 2016.

Read more at:

FACCC Report on NACIQI Hearing

The Academe Blog of the AAUP

AFT2121 Article

Chronicle of Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed
SF Examiner


An Open Letter to Guy Lease, Chancellor Lamb and the City College Board of Trustees

Stop Hemorrhaging Enrollment at City College: End the Racist Payment Policy

Read the  Payment Policy Open Letter

Finger pointingFinancial aid cut-backs and new push-out policies written into the so-called Student Success Act have started a war on students. New regulations and bureaucratic barriers are pushing them out of community college, towards predatory student loans, the for-profit colleges, or endless low-wage work.

The California Community College system has shrunk from 2.9 million students in 2008, to 2.1 million students in 2015, and City College has shrunk from 100,000 students in 2008 to 65,000 today. Push-out policies are now squeezing out the very students who depend on community college the most. What’s happening and why?

Cuts to the Federal Pell Grant

Are you taking longer than expected to finish at your community college? Your Pell Grant might be used up before you even transfer to a four-year university, pressuring you into a student loan!

  • In 2012, the U.S. Congress reduced Pell Grant eligibility from 18 semesters to 12 semesters and eliminated summer Pell Grants. This will reduce total Pell Grant funding by 50 billion dollars over 10 years.
  • Pell now covers only one third of the cost of attending college, the lowest in 40 years.

More than 8 million students rely on the Pell Grant to attend college (more than 60% of African Americans and half of Latino students).

Harsh Payment Policy Adopted by Administration in January 2013

Owe $28 in library fines? Waiting in long lines to see a financial aid counselor? Better hurry… pay up or get out!

  • Starting in January 2013, CCSF administration implemented a new payment policy which forces already-enrolled students to pay fees and small back debts before financial aid arrives.
  • Students who can’t pay are pressured to take out a loan from the predatory student loan company Nelnet, or else are robo-dropped from all their classes. The impact is worst on undocumented students and out of state students, who may find themselves owing several thousand dollars.
  • The administration is willing to forego state appropriations of up to $4,676 for each full-time student, while the average back payment is only $200. This only makes sense if the goal is downsizing and privatization.
  • Neither the students nor the college benefit from this policy, only predatory student loan companies and for-profit colleges.

Course Repeatability Rules

Need a few tries to pass that important math class? Sorry.

  • In 2013 colleges start enforcing “3 strikes and you’re out;” only three withdrawals from a course, then you can NEVER try again.

Trying to master hip-hop dance or art? Repeatability rules will put a to that!

  • In 2014-15, colleges start enforcing that students can only take four skills-based classes in a “family” (i.e. music, dance, or art classes). This blocks working class people from developing a high level of skill in their art, and makes majoring in the arts nearly impossible. It also destabilizes music, art and physical education departments that communities have relied on for decades.

So-Called “Academic Progress” Rule

Life happened and you suddenly had to walk away from classes? Ready to try college again? “Academic Progress” will end community college as the place for second chances, the place where students can hit the re-set button on their lives.

  • Set to take effect in fall 2016, this new state policy denies fee waivers and priority registration to students who over two semesters, either fall below a “C” average or who do not complete 50% of their classes.
  • This policy will cause 42,000 students statewide to lose their BOG Fee Waivers, including large numbers of African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, and disabled students.

Unit Caps

Are you an older student hoping to upgrade your skills? Not ready to stop learning? This policy says your time is up. Limit exceeded.

  • Starting in 2014, students with more than 90 units get sent to the very back of the enrollment line and often won’t get the classes they need.


Bureaucratic Barriers to Enrollment

Bureaucratic barriers set requirements, but don’t give students what they need to meet the requirements.

  • New policies require students to have an educational plan in place, but then over 30 part-time counselors were laid off at City College after the accreditation crisis.
  • Students are robo-dropped from all their classes if they haven’t paid small debts before financial aid arrives, yet major cuts in financial aid staff makes it hard for students to get through complex paperwork.
  • New policies discourage part-time and lifelong learners (for example someone who already has a bachelor’s degree) from taking classes, and the enrollment website makes it almost impossible to sign up.


Why is this happening?

The person who wrote most of these policies, Amy Supinger, was the executive director of the so-called Student Success Task Force. After writing up the 22 new restrictive measures, Supinger went through the golden revolving door, leaving her job as a state government analyst, for a lucrative position with the Lumina Foundation. Lumina was set up in 2000 by the Student Loan Marketing Corporation (Sallie Mae), the country’s dominant student loan company.

As part of its downstream business strategy, Sallie Mae transferred its CEO, four board members, and 770 million dollars to start Lumina. While veiling the hand of the despised student loan industry, Lumina advocates for millions more college degrees, heavy 15-unit class loads per semester (so students can’t work their way through college), yet less public funding for colleges and universities. In short, Lumina’s policies add up to a recipe for a huge ballooning of student debt, already at 1.3 trillion and counting.


–Written by the Research Committee to Save City College, The contact person is Allan Fisher.