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Students, faculty and alumni at City College of San Francisco are grappling with the school’s loss of accreditation and its struggle to retrieve its status before it expires in the summer of 2014.
More than 85,000 students consider City College a vital source not only for university-bound traditional students, but also for older and mid-career residents seeking job skills, people with degrees who want educational enrichment and 1,100 veterans looking to transition from the military to civilian careers.
But that era could be ending, and no one knows for sure what might happen if this citywide educational resource disappeared.
On July 12, I moderated a panel discussion on the topic that included a faculty union representative, alumni, journalists and veterans, who voiced their perspectives on who would feel the effects of the school’s closure, and how it might be rescued.
The panel’s host was the Veterans Community Media Center, which opened in July at 1720 Market St. in San Francisco. It is a project of the American Legion Post 315 and is fiscally sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter 69.
The story of City College losing its accreditation has received wall-to-wall coverage since July 3, when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced that it was planning to revoke the school’s accreditation within one year. The college has worked to address the commission’s recommendations on issues of management, funding and testing standards.
Now the college has one year, until July 31, 2014, to appeal the decision, and the teachers’ union, student groups and an array of community organizations have filed petitions to reverse the decision and taken to the streets to vent their frustration. And this fight raises questions of local control, social equity, educational philosophy, academic freedom and economic development for the San Francisco community.
This event was streamed live on Ustream.tv. It was recorded as a podcast for Web download for airing on public access television.
Thanks to the impressive efforts of Ellison Horne, Catherine Lee and JeanChas Morris, who started the Veterans Community Media Center. It’s a beautiful 5,000-square-foot storefront office space that will house television, radio and Web production studios, as well as meeting rooms and a gathering space for veterans. It will also offer job training and skill sharing. And it’s got a fabulous gallery now displaying art and photography by local veterans. For more information on the center and to get involved, visit vmcsf.org.
We also had assistance from Da Maddhouze from KCSF Radio via the KCSF MixCloud at 90.9 FM. And we also had research help from Sara Bloomberg, a top editor at The Guardsman newspaper at City College.
Note: We asked the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to appear, but the agency declined to send a representative.
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Michael Stoll is executive director of the Public Press (www.sfpublicpress.org), a startup nonprofit news service for the San Francisco Bay Area that does for print and Web what public broadcasting does for TV and radio. He has been a reporter at the Hartford Courant, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Examiner, and written freelance for Columbia Journalism Review, Earth Island Journal, SF Weekly, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Quill, the Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times.
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