Changing the narrative

ACCJC hit with city lawsuit and legislative investigation, broadening the discussion of City College's fate

Anthony Mata

Three distinct players with three distinct strategies for saving City College of San Francisco showed their hands last week, all centered around the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges, which plans to revoke City College's accreditation in less than a year.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against the ACCJC, state lawmakers are revving up to investigate it, and City College Super Trustee Bob Agrella is doing his best to quietly meet the accreditor's standards.

Whether any of the approaches will save the school is anyone's guess, but one thing's for sure: In the process of saving City College, its accreditation agency has gone from an unknown bureaucracy to a polarizing political punching bag.



Herrera threw a right hook at the ACCJC on Aug. 22, announcing his lawsuit to stop them from closing City College. It offers a scathing critique of the accreditation agency and those whose agenda it is pushing.

The ACCJC said City College failed to meet certain standards by its deadline last July, leading the agency to order its closure in exactly one year. Since then, enrollment at the college of 85,000 students plummeted and the school is fighting for its very existence. Now Herrera is saying that closure action was improper, unwarranted, and out of line with the agency's prior actions.

Herrera's suit alleges the ACCJC unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards. "It is a matter of public record that the ACCJC has been an advocate to reshape the mission of California community colleges," Herrera said at a press conference.

The agenda he said it was advocating for is the completion agenda, which was the focus of our July 9 cover story, "Who Killed City College?" Essentially, it's the move to force community colleges to focus on only two-year transfer students at the expense of so-called "non-credit" classes, which can be lifelong learning skills or English as Second Language classes.

"There's a reason judges aren't advocates and advocates aren't judges," Herrera said. "We should have a problem when an entity charged with evaluation engages in political advocacy."


City College avoided those reform efforts from the state for years, and Herrera alleges that the ACCJC tried to sanction City College because of that resistance.

ACCJC President Barbara Beno was not available for comment. In a statement, the agency said it was surprised to learn Herrera filed a suit against the ACCJC, and that the suit appears to be "without merit" and an attempt to "politicize and interfere with the ongoing accreditation review process."

Herrera may be playing cowboy, guns aimed right at the ACCJC, but he also said he doesn't want the agency to close, just to clean up its act and be accountable. But on the other side of the OK Corral, an investigation by the California Legislature is under way — and it may be sizing up a coffin for the ACCJC.



Just a day before Herrera announced his lawsuit, the California Joint Legislative Audit Committee voted to investigate the accrediting commission. The audit committee is a legislative fact-finding body usually staffed by former investigative journalists, and the senators who asked for the hearing were out for the ACCJC's blood.

"The stakes are high and the commission's power is absolute," Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, told the audit committee. He then outlined the danger of losing community colleges that faced closure at the hand of the ACCJC.


It's a deeply flawed and sub-standard institution that requires massive subsidies from the taxpayer to hobble along.

It's done.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

ACCJC is an unaccountable, private organization which makes its draconian and vindictive rulings shrouded in dark secrecy, decisions based on arbitrary, ill-defined, and contradictory "standards" designed to funnel funds marked for non-profit, public education into private, for-profit diploma mills.

No one -- not even the ACCJC -- questions the quality of CCSF's education.

My agenda is clear: I'm a student at CCSF.

What's _your_ agenda?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 8:48 am

not a criminal and doesn't deserve to go to prison.

Posted by anon on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 8:58 am

So, would you prefer to just prosecute based on the corrupt cop's word, or have the corrupt cop _and_ supposed criminal investigated by an accountable third party?

Or do you prefer the status quo: a kangaroo court, a star chamber?

CCSF has been tried by ACCJC and the media based on now-shredded secret proceedings. The private, mysterious, and secrecy-enshrouded ACCJC has itself now been accused by multiple public, independent, and accountable third parties of serious,and perhaps illegal, misconduct.

But, no, let's just accept the ACCJC's report at face value, and continue on with its witchhunt against public education, right?

It's the least we can do for College of Phoenix, Heald, DeVry, and their like, right?

Posted by two beers on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

I guess that it is real what you said, I prefer the same thing for sure!

Posted by Frank on Jan. 06, 2014 @ 7:04 am

I agree with you Frank, i think this is for real

Posted by Vitamin Untuk ibu hamil on May. 01, 2014 @ 9:44 pm

I agree. It is time to stop the fights of the different groups and focus what is really needed.

Posted by Stühle kaufen on Apr. 02, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

And then maybe we can build a viable institution in its place.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 02, 2014 @ 2:29 pm

Agreed, then maybe our taxpayers dollars will be able to fund some legitimate educational programs instead.

Posted by Sleeping Bags on May. 08, 2014 @ 7:45 am

The problems with ACCJC did not begin with CCSF. Four years ago there was a unanimous vote of no confidence in ACCJC and its leadership from the teacher's union covering colleges in Contra Costa.

There have been efforts to make ACCJC work collaboratively every year since then .... to no avail.

Posted by rick on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 9:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 6:11 am

There are problems in every domains, so don't worry!

Posted by Rechtsanwalt on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 1:06 am

Just because there are problems doesn't mean there should be a blind eye turned to it.

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Posted by Vitamin untuk ibu hamil on May. 01, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

The issue is - will CCSF get its act together. The hot air from politicians is a circus side show. So Herrera, who is irrelevant in this drama and inserting himself,
has a plan to sue this body and force an accreditation upon CCSF??

So why is it that EVERY other school in the ACCJC's jurisdiction has mananged to comply EXCEPT for CCSF - how many schools are we talking about 50, 100, 200 and CCSF is THE ONLY SCHOOL THAT CAN'T COMPLY?

Has CCSF started to collect student fees?

Thank goodness the appointed Trustee is ignoring the circus side show and doing the actual work required. Any clown can file a lawsuit.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 6:30 am

Only if the unions cooperate. CCSF needs to get rid of some dead wood. That is the first step. After that, CCSF still has a long way to go to rebuild a functional organization.

The world has changed in the past 20 years. With global competition, we should reward excellence and should not subsidize incompetence.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 11:23 am

It is for sure simple to change it and make new law!

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Posted by emt training on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 6:22 am

Watch out we got a badman here namely ACCJC, run by mavericks, who have made it a platform to decimate their enemies. The time is come to clean it and throw out the rubbish.

Posted by Scott Mansfield on Mar. 18, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

no joke, that's really how it is

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We all tell ourselves stories. We tell stories about how we met certain people. We tell stories about the idiosyncrasies we've acquired.

Posted by Möbeltaxi Berlin on Mar. 21, 2014 @ 3:51 am

Seriously, we need to this fighting and support the ACCJC.

Posted by Stühle kaufen on Apr. 02, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

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Posted by Vitamin untuk ibu hamil on May. 01, 2014 @ 9:41 pm

Again, if something goes wrong those agencies are hitting on those poor foreign students! There is nothing like "non-credit" classes, but just broken educational system!

Posted by Benjamin on May. 04, 2014 @ 8:24 am


Posted by throwing knives on May. 06, 2014 @ 12:40 pm
Posted by best chainsaw on May. 06, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

this is terrible

Posted by best chainsaw on May. 06, 2014 @ 12:54 pm

this is pretty ridiculous. why go through all the trouble?

Posted by best chainsaw on May. 06, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

It looks like there's been wrong doing on both sides of the fence here. It's a shame that these organizations can't find a common ground so that both parties win.

Posted by Trampolines on May. 07, 2014 @ 10:22 am

Bad news for college students as well as whole education system .

Posted by Best electric smoker reviews on May. 10, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

I have never seen where a lawsuit actually improved a community college. Change of leadership gets a change of results.

Posted by Jumbo Joe Fan on May. 25, 2014 @ 11:07 am

They are wasting time and money!

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Thanks for this good article.

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Posted by John on Jun. 04, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

I cant understand the whole meaning of this article .Is this about changing narrative or something else .

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A scathing critique of the accreditation agency.

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A scathing critique of the accreditation agency.

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