I first ran for the Board to fight corruption and mismanagement at City College. The problems were rampant, as reported in the Bay Guardian and other news outlets, and included construction mismanagement to the tune of $200 million in waste. I fought against top administrators, three of whom pleaded guilty to money laundering.
I led the effort to fix the problems they created, despite pushback from some other Board members and some in the college. At first, I did not have the votes to fire these administrators, but we did push them out after several months.
I sought the presidency of the Board in order to more strongly address these and other problems that had come to light, including the threat to revoke accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).
To address accreditation, I increased the frequency of Board meetings from monthly to weekly. I urged the Board to bring in auditors to identify problems and recommend solutions. The Board updated dozens of policies, restructured top management, and implemented multi-year planning processes. The last budget the Board passed had a multi-million-dollar surplus. Most importantly, the Board passed the Accreditation Plan, which is now over 90% completed.
Unfortunately, ACCJC hasn't visited City College in 18 months. Nor has it reviewed the massive amount of work City College has done. The City Attorney is suing ACCJC and the State Auditor issued a damning report about them. Earlier this year, the Bay Guardian quoted Jackie Speier as saying that the "ACCJC has run amok and lost their vision, if they ever had one."
ACCJC believes that City College should reduce the scope of its offerings to focus on transferring high-school graduates to 4-year colleges after two years.
Yet, only a little over 7000 students of City College's 80,000 students are under 20 years old. City College trains tens of thousands of other students directly for the job market. City College plays a major role in the economy by providing learning and training, much of which is not available in private sector.
These include top-rated hotel, culinary, horticulture, radiology, nursing, construction and other vocational training programs. City College has 20,000 students of English as a second language, which enables immigrants to climb out of poverty. We help people who already have degrees transition to new careers. We have programs for the disabled, former foster youth, and other special needs communities. We can't give up on these programs to satisfy an out-of-touch agency that doesn't talk to the public.
During the past year, I've been working with members of the state legislature to build support for City College and to make sure that ACCJC evaluates our 90-percent completed Accreditation Plan. Even Republican legislators I've lobbied agree that City College deserves a fair deal.
I also helped Assemblyman Tom Ammiano pass AB 2087, which will restore voter control to City College. While the Board has been suspended over the past year, an appointed special trustee is has been making decisions in a back room. But because of AB 2087, the state is now drawing up a plan to restore the elected Board of Trustees.
The next four years are crucial. I will continue to fight to lift the threat of dis-accreditation, which has caused a 25% drop in enrollment. I will work for an aggressive recruiting program to regain our lost students in order to sustain the diverse programs we offer.
We also need a Board that provides strong oversight over the administration to make sure there is no rollback of the reforms I have worked hard to pass. I am concerned about a spike in administrator salaries at time when teachers' salaries are being cut. And, the administration is spending millions of dollars on consultants when those scarce dollars should to go students.
I've tackled threats and intimidation from corrupt officials and an out-of-touch accrediting agency. City College needs strong and effective leadership because San Francisco needs a strong and educationally diverse City College.