City College of San Francisco
City College of San Francisco is a two year community college located in the city of San Francisco, California. The primary location of the college is Ocean Avenue campus. The college’s door opened to the public in 1935 as San Francisco Junior College. The college, however, changed its name in 1948, to its current. Over the years, the college has grown, and today stands as the largest in California (Sankin, 2013). The college currently has a student body of more than 80,000 spread across its 11 campus around the state of California (Asimov, 2014). Currently however, the college is making headlines following the July 2013 decision by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to terminate the college’s accreditation (Wilkey, 2012). Although the city’s attorney challenge to stop the ACCJC from closing the college was granted by the Superior Court (O’Connor, 2014), it remains apparent that upholding the commission’s decision, and consequently closing the college will have far reaching effects on not only the students, but the State’s economy, labor force and the general higher education.
What is the Issue and who will Be Affected?
Following investigations into the state of the education in the state, the college was found nearly bankrupt and was not in a position to implement corrective action (Sankin, 2013). City College lacks administrative staffs, and many of the students have complained about the college’s ineffective operations; it cannot document a funding base for their facilities and faculties. Besides, City College failed to take corrective action to the issues raised, consequently resulting in the loss of reputation and worsening an already deplorable situation (Kingkade, 2013).
The decision to revoke the college’s accreditation, while warranted, has been a major cause of the deterioration of the college’s situation. An interesting fact is that even with the financial problems, which mostly concern aging infrastructure, budgeting procedures and problems with the payrolls, largely exacerbated by decline in revenue due to the recession, the commission found almost no fault in the quality of education offered at the college (Kingkade, 2013). The quality of education arguably is the most important element of a college. The financial problems, while they may eventually affect the quality of education, have not yet had any impact on the college’s education quality. The college remains dedicated to providing equitable and quality education as is its motto, problems with the financials notwithstanding.
Shutdown of the college will have far-reaching effects not only on the students, but also on San Francisco’s economy. The argument here therefore is that the rally towards shutting down the college is unsubstantiated, since most of the issues are manageable, and with proper management, can be corrected (Wilkey, 2012). In the event of CCSF’s shut down, the students and faculty staff will have to leave the school, education will be affected given the lack of faculty members to facilitate the college’s programs, and most importantly, there will be a shock on the local economy, given the lack of activity in the college which spur economic activity in terms of student purchases and the college’s supplies.
A closer look at the effects of the shutdown paints a grim picture for different sections of the city’s social fabric. This touches on the employees, students, education, and the economy. City College remains the biggest community college in Northern America. With 11 campuses, the college offers good quality educational programs for students. If CCSF loses its accreditation, the following will be aspects that might be influenced.
Since last year, many of the college’s staff has been laid off. This means loss of jobs for these employees, and more importantly loss of income in taxes to the state. If the college is shut down in the future following the revocation of the college’s accreditation, all the full-time and part-time employees will lose their jobs. Estimates indicate that about 1,850 faculty members will have to leave the school, and lose their jobs. About 815 of the total faculty members are full time employees, while 1035 are part-time (City College, n.d). Letting go such a huge number of employees is catastrophic to the economy. These are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters with responsibilities and other things to take care of. Some have aspirations, which by losing the jobs, are all doomed.
The college’s spending was estimated at 92 percent on benefits and compensation to the staff (Sankin, 2013), which lead to the accusations of mismanagement of funds. By shutting down the college, therefore, apart from losing their jobs and ultimately their salaries, most of the faculty members will also lose their benefits. Even the suggested 8.8 percent pay cut, as a condition for keeping the college alive still puts the employees at a poor economic position (Wilkey, 2012). Although some may leave the city in search of greener pastures, this will be an inconvenience to the employees, who will need to move their families, make new friends and adjust to the new environments that they will settle. It is probable that some of these employees have lived in San Francisco for the better part of their lives. Stripping them of such a community will therefore be tantamount to stripping them off their livelihood.
City College has a huge population of students, who contribute to the state’s workforce. Shutting down the college, therefore, means a loss of college education for both current and prospective students (O’Connor, 2014). Even more is the fact that current students and potential students will collectively have no good alternatives. There is no good public transportation to community colleges in other cities from San Francisco, and the San Mateo Community college, the second highest in enrolment in the state, is running at its capacity (41,038). Other colleges, such as Solano, Alamada, and Marin have enrollments of 12,865, 16,220 and 11,055 respectively, whose combined enrollment is only 50 percent of San Francisco enrollment. (Table 1 shows college enrollment in the states’ colleges).
Table 1. College enrollment in California
CCSF offers quality higher education at affordable enrollment fee. According to City College (n.d), the cost per credit is $46 for in-state admissions with the possibility of loans, college work-study and grants. In comparison to other colleges such as Chapman University ($1,390) and California State University ($ 147), CCSF’s cost is therefore many times cheaper. Additionally, the presence of CCFS has increased the number of students with college education in California. Being one of the largest contributors to the workforce, especially after the state efforts to make college education affordable for a majority of people in the state, it is foolhardy to therefore shut down the college, locking out potential candidates from attending college (Economic Modeling Specialists International, 2014).
Among the numerous reasons for attending college for students is to improve the potential of their earnings. Thus, in the job market, individuals with higher educational attainment tend to earn much higher wages (EMSI, 2014). With a college degree, candidates are likely to earn 10 percent more than their counterparts with high school diplomas. On the other hand, associate degree holders, from two year colleges such as CCFS, earn 20 percent more than their high school diploma holders counterparts (EMSI, 2014). All these are advantages that accrue to college degree holders. By shutting down CCFS, therefore, most of the current candidates and the potential students will miss out on such highly attractive pays.
A college degree additionally opens opportunities for the students in diverse industries after completion (EMSI, 2014). These include industries, such as healthcare, financial, and retail, where the skills learnt in college can be applied. With advances in financials, it is possible to land a decent paying management job with a college degree (EMSI, 2014), as well as the possibility to proceed to the university. By shutting down the college, there is no telling how much in opportunity the students will miss for not attending college.
CCSF offers over 50 educational programs that can be transferred to universities, and over 100 career technical programs. These as indicated offer career openings in a number of fields. While jobs in industries are occupied by high school graduates, colleges, such as CCSF, can be instrumental in providing vocational training (EMSI, 2014). Even more is that with these vocational skills, one can secure certification programs, such as nursing. These guarantee learning of new skills and widening the scope of the students, while at the same time opening them to even higher educational attainment. With the shutting down of CCSF, these can be all lost if it is closed (O’Connor, 2014).
In the spirit of advancing the community, CCSF has been offering free adult education classes. These have been instrumental in improving the literacy levels in the state, while enabling senior members of the community, especially immigrants who have little if not literacy skills. Shutting down CCSF therefore means increased illiteracy in the state.
CCSF’s accreditation makes it eligible for state and federal funding. As little as these funds come, they help spur the economy of the region through payment of wages and supplies. Staffs paid from these funds have considerable purchasing. This in the very least spurs the economy of the region the college’s campus is located. Losing accreditation, therefore, means a loss of federal and state funding (Sankin, 2013), with a spiraling effect to the state’s economy (Wilkey, 2012).
The college is in itself a source of economic activity for the city. In 1997 alone, CCSF passed three separate bonds worth $581.3 million to assist in the payment for technology improvements and the construction of Chinatown/ North Beach Campus (Koskey, 2011). Such activities are known to spar economic activity. By shutting the college therefore, at least $300 million in economic activity will be lost annually, and it will also be a disappointment to Chinatown community which set up donation centers to help cover the $400,000 shortfall during the construction of the campus (Koskey, 2011).
According to a report by the Economic Modeling Specialists International (2014), community colleges spur not only the economies of the regions in which the colleges they attend are located, but the national economy as well. The expenses of international students, some of who learn at CCSF, in rent, groceries and transport help in support a lot of American businesses to a tune of $1.1 billion (EMSI, 2014). Specifically, approximately $5,546 is spent by international students on boarding expenses. An additional $1,612 is spent on personal expenses, while Transportation takes another $1,232 from the students (EMSI, 2014). With approximately 146,472 international students, spending an average of 8,390, the contribution to the economy is $1.2 billion (see Table 2).
Table 2. Average student attendance and total sales from international student in national community colleges
|Room and board
|Approximate number of international students
Shutting down the institution only leads to losses for both the state government and the college. CCSF location exposes it to thousands of immigrants arriving into the US from Mexico. Most of these students do not speak English and therefore need the services of the college, especially in remediation classes (Pogash, 2010). These students studying English as a second language bring in approximately $1.2 billion in expenses, in addition to the $187 per credit (EMSI, 2014, City College, n.d.). These are colossal amounts of money that both the state and the college will lose at shutting down the college, which obviously have considerable economic impact.
CCSF has a significant influence on students’ academic progress; it has enabled students achieve their dream in the past, and continues to do so. This is in addition to hugely contributing to the overall state workforce. In retrospective, therefore, the government should take charge of CCSF issue instead of the private ACCJC, part of which may have a hidden agenda for the college and its numerous campuses. Even more important is that there is a need for the government to monitor and make sure that the college adheres to National College Requirement and Standard. Moreover, the government should help with funding and set up a functional group to help with the college’s follow up. This should comprise professionals in management, finance, and administration to assist the college’s principal in management of the college.
A lot of people may be skeptical about the future of CCSF given the hanging revocation of its accreditation. The turmoil within the college’s administration does not warrant closure of the college, rather a change in the management, especially with a competent individual. In the past, the college has fulfilled the dreams of many students who pass through it. It is possible that the college can still nurture such individuals given requisite support in staff and funding. The state is thus likely to lose much more with the closure of the college. While it is their work, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges decision was not only harsh, but also unwarranted given that the education quality in CCSF has remained high.
Asimov, Nanette (2014). City College of S.F. could get more time to shape up. SFGate, 14 May. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/City-College-of-S-F-could-get-more-time-to-shape-5475666.php
City College (n.d). An Overview of City College. Retrieved from https://www.ccsf.edu/en/about-city-college/aboutccsf.html
EMSI (2014). Where Value Meets Values: The Economic Impact of Community Colleges. Moscow: EMSI
Kingkade, T. (2013). City College Of San Francisco Students, Supporters Plan Protest Over Loss Of Accreditation. The Huffington Post, 7 September. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/09/city-college-of-san-francisco-protest_n_3569046.html
Koskey, A. (2011). Chinatown digs deep to furnish City College of San Francisco. The Examiner, 16 December. Retrieved from http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/chinatown-digs-deep-to-furnish-city-college-of-san-francisco/Content?oid=2188231
Krupnick, M. (2013). College accreditors under pressure to crack down. The Hechinger Report, 26 December. Retrieved from http://hechingerreport.org/content/college-accreditors-under-pressure-to-crack-down_14300/
O’Connor, l. (2014). Last Minute Save for California’s Largest College. The Huffington Post, 1 March. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/03/city-college-of-san-francisco_n_4538793.html
Pogash, C. (2010). At City College, a Battle over Remedial Classes for English and Math. The New York Times, 24 June. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/25/us/25bcschools.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
Sankin, A. (2013). City College Of San Francisco Asks For Extension To Prevent Shutdown. Huffington Post, 9 January. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/city-college-of-san-francisco_n_2442721.html
Wilkey, R. (2012). City College of San Francisco Faces Closure, Loss of Accreditation. The Huffington Post, 7 April. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/city-college-of-san-francisco-closure_n_1652465.html