CORPORATE EDUCATION REFORM HITS SAN FRANCISCO COMMUNITY COLLEGE
By David Bacon
By David Bacon
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (3/18/13) - On March 14, the day before the Trustees at San Francisco Community College District handed in the report that may decide the life or death of California's largest community college, student and faculty marchers headed downtown to City Hall. A sinuous line of hundreds of chanting, banner-waving people stopped traffic on Mission Street, the main artery through the city barrio. Their mood combined equal parts of desperation at the prospect of the closure of the school, and anger and defiance at the kinds of changes that authorities are demanding to keep it open.
Shanell Williams, urban studies major and president of the Associated Students at SFCC, told a rally at the march's starting point on the college's Mission campus that the required changes are part of a larger effort to turn students into commodities, and move towards the privatization of education. "Next year students will be affected by the Student Success Act," she warned. "Every student will have to have an education plan, there will be repeat limits, and a 90-credit cap on the Board of Governors fee waiver [that allows poor and working class students to petition to waive tuition fees]. Now is the time when they need more student services and support from the administration, but they're cutting part time counselors and taking other actions that will be even greater barriers."
Closing San Francisco Community College became a possibility last spring when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges sent a team to San Francisco, as part of a 6-year accreditation cycle. The district, the largest public school system in California, had been warned earlier about deficiencies and knew there would be problems. With 85,000 students and 1650 faculty, and an annual operating budget of $200 million, SFCC had never been sanctioned. But under the impact of cuts in state funding, last year it had a deficit of $6 million.