West Coast Accreditor Hit
The accrediting agency that moved this summer to shut down the 80,000-student City College of San Francisco (CCSF) now finds its own practices coming under increased scrutiny.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges faces lawsuits both from San Francisco’s city attorney and from the California Federation of Teachers on behalf of 1,650 faculty members and staff at City College, seeking to bar the termination of the college’s accreditation. The city’s lawsuit details the financial and political relationships the ACCJC has with private student loan lenders, and alleges that these relationships have made the accreditation commission politically biased.
In addition, the US Department of Education (DOE) has concluded that the ACCJC has violated federal regulations on conflicts of interest – a determination it reached after a union complaint. The ACCJC’s recognition by the DOE comes up for review in December.
The ACCJC’s July announcement that it would revoke CCSF’s accreditation in 12 months shocked many observers. Data from the state’s community college system shows that CCSF almost uniformly scores better than most other community colleges in the state on common metrics, and the commission had no complaints about the quality of CCSF’s classroom instruction. Instead, ACCJC faulted CCSF for having too few administrators, an unusually strong system of faculty governance and insufficient financial reserves after enduring more than $50 million in budget cuts in recent years.
British University Strike
Public university lecturers and administrative staff in Britain staged a one-day national strike on Halloween, their first in seven years, causing classes to be cancelled at several universities and colleges. Protesting the 1% pay raise offered to them in contract negotiations, the strikers and their unions said their pay has fallen behind the rising cost of living in the UK, amounting to a pay reduction in real terms.
The strike was organized by a coalition of three unions, the University and College Union (UCU), UNISON, and Unite. “Staff around the UK are taking strike action to try and reverse some of the most sustained pay cuts since the Second World War,” said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the UCU. “Staff are furious at what has happened to their pay and that is why they feel they’ve been forced into this action.”
Educators and staff were joined on the picket lines by various student organizations. A statement from the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts said, “These strikes could be a pivotal moment for the fight for education and the fight to save the welfare state.”