Despite the headlines and the cries of victory by some parties, City College’s situation is much the same as it was before the recent court decision.
When you read the language of the decision carefully (there’s a “plain English” version at the end), you’ll see that the judge found only that there were sufficient questions about the fairness of that process – and the consequences of closing the college severe enough – to warrant a full court hearing on the fairness of the process before invoking the consequences. At the same time, he expresses deep uncertainty about whether a fair process would have changed the outcome or not. In other words, the judge explicitly acknowledges that the college has major issues to address before we’ll be allowed to remain open.
It’s important to keep in mind that even if the process is found to be unfair, the court does not have the authority to grant accreditation. The best outcome I can see coming out of a “win” for the college would be for the City College to get another accreditation process. That is, the college would still have to fix the problems that the commission identified to meet the accreditation standards. All that would have been gained is time.
More time is a good thing considering the number and magnitude of the issues the college needs to address, but time is not enough. We also must make the changes. That requires vision, willingness, and the determination to do what must be done.
And while I don’t agree with everything the college’s administration has done, I do admire the fact that they are focused on meeting the standards. In fact, as CA Community College Chancellor Brice Harris put it in a letter to San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, “Court intervention is not necessary to keep City College open.” Harris goes on to detail some of the positive steps the college has taken to make sure we are meeting the accreditation standards. He writes like a man who believes the college will remain open, not because the court keeps us open, but because we have fixed the problems and earned the right to serve our community.
So, get excited about the court’s decision if you like, but let’s stay focused on making City College the college it could be for our students and our community.