A friend recently asked me if I support Prop. A, the eight-year, $79 parcel tax to support City College on the November 6 ballot. I answered, yes — I’m certainly going to vote for it and pay it if it passes — more money for education is almost always a good investment for public dollars.
My friend asked the question because he’s concerned about a college that can’t seem to manage its finances properly and that’s in danger of being de-accredited. He’s not sure it makes sense to give more of his money to a school that has shown it can’t handle its money.
These are real concerns and a month ago, I would not have been able to answer his question as confidently as I can today. But when, at last Thursday’s meeting, the CCSF Board of Trustees voted unanimously to restructure the college over the vocal protest of many faculty, it represented a turning point for the college in terms of accountability to and control for the public. The Board sent a message that they are looking out for the public’s interest, whether those of us inside the college like it or not. They made it clear that the city of San Francisco is in charge at City College.
Over the past four months, City College has been under the watchful eye of the press, the state Community College Chancellor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, and numerous public officials, including Mayor Ed Lee. The normally unnoticed votes on budgets and contracts and other issues for a nearly $200 million budget, are suddenly very much in the public eye. Maybe the Board would have voted the same way even without all the scrutiny. We’ll never know. But from my perspective, all the attention is the best thing that can happen for the college.
Prop. A says the money will be spent to:
prevent layoffs; provide an affordable, quality education for students; maintain essential courses including, but not limited to, writing, math, science, and other general education; prepare students for four-year universities; provide workforce training including, but not limited to nursing, engineering, technology, and business; and keep college libraries, student support services, and other instructional support open and up-to-date.
That sounds good for the college, good for our students, and good for San Francisco, but only if that’s really how the money is used. So I hope the voters of San Francisco join me to vote “yes” on Prop. A — and then demand to know exactly where the money goes. Support the college with our wallets and with our watchful eyes. Increase both the budget and the accountability.