Now that CCSF has a new draft of our Show Cause report, we must confront a blossoming dysfunction in our community. What’s needed at CCSF now is more cooperation. We must work together to get through the challenges of Showing Cause. We need to go back to basics, back to a foundation of manners. The atmosphere of intolerance that has crept into our community is unacceptable. We need to model how to work together to strengthen and nurture our most precious commodity: ourselves.
First, I urge each and every one of us to raise the standards of our professional courtesies from today forward. When we are engaging in difficult conversations, and these are trying times, we must default to a more mindful and conscious communication style than normal, one that is characterized by respect and courtesy. After all, we have to live with each other; we are a community; this is our college. Let us address each other kindly, affording one another the dignity and respect of a collegial relationship, so that we can look each other in the eyes when next we meet in Batmale Hall or MUB. Let us work to resolve problems rather than attack people, people who we will need to work with again in the future. This includes Students, Classified Staff, Faculty, Administrators and Board Members.
Every person in our community is worthy of dignity and respect.
Second, who are you fighting for? If you’re not standing up for our students, to make sure they have a future, a college to attend for the next century, then it’s time to regroup. Much needed fiscal reform and innovations are the demands of our times. We, CCSF, have to change in order to remain viable, relevant and sustainable for our students. Defending the status quo will not lead to innovations, fiscal reform or an equitable outcome for our students. It may have just the opposite effect; it may lead to the closure of our college. We have to organize ourselves in such a way that allows us to leave a legacy of empowerment for our students and community. I don’t want to be the ones that shut CCSF down—for any reason.
Today is the day to change your attitude and thinking about the future. It’s time for us to reinvent ourselves. We can’t continue to fight for chalk when we have white boards; as one of our nation’s largest public education institutions, we should be leaders in innovation; we should set the trend in cutting edge pedagogical approaches; and we should produce record numbers of educated people. That sounds thrilling to me. Where are our ideas, our risk-taking passion?
Lately, when I ponder our reactions to our current accreditation challenges, I have reflected on Lisa Delpit’s germinal work in Education Studies, “Other People’s Children.” Here’s what comes up for me: How many of us see CCSF as an institution that serves “other people’s children”? I think, How many of us would behave differently if we believed that CCSF was the destination of our very own children? Would we still be willing to put our accreditation at risk?
There is no question in my mind that if CCSF were the destination for our own children, then we would be behaving very differently now. Otherwise, how could so many of us so easily dismiss the problems CCSF faces and simply demand that our salaries remain intact, that nothing change, that our administration and board be disrespected and protested? The stakes are low, because suddenly, it’s only a job, and we fight solely for some rights and privileges (largely monetary) that ignore our obligations as public servants. We can callously dismiss ACCJC as anti-union and ignore the urgency of Showing Cause for Our Students, because, our kids don’t need CCSF. It’s a question of priorities: Keep the college open, or preserve the status quo.
Below is a series of Ted Talks addressing education today and tomorrow. It helps to consider what others are doing and thinking about the role of static institutions. If we are to preserve our institution for our students, then we should be far more aggressive in our attempts to redefine ourselves.