Day On II at CCSF — Another Success

Saturday’s “Day On” at CCSF saw another 60 WeAreCCSF volunteers working to make sure City College stays open and in San Francisco for years to come. Together the alliance (Community, Classified, Students and Faculty) washed windows, pulled weeds, and picked up trash and recycling.

And it was great to be joined by CCSF administrators: new Chancellor Arthur Tyler; new Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Susan Lamb; and newly appointed Dean of Student Affairs Samuel Santos. All three put their gloves on and worked with the rest of us.

The event saw expanded news coverage, including ABC 7, KRON 4, KTVU 2, KTSF 26, KPFA, The Guardsman (CCSF’s student paper) and Sing Tao Daily. Here’s a video of the KPFA piece:

Click here for more coverage.

Join WeAreCCSF for the next event — November 27, 10 AM – 1 PM — as we repair, rebuild, and restore City College.


Help Repair, Rebuild, and Restore CCSF


NOV. 2 10AM – 1PM



Join WE ARE CCSF (Community.Classified.Students.Faculty) and follow up the success of the first Day On.
Help repair, rebuild, and restore your college.



Work. Have fun. Join the WeAreCCSF community.


Check out the WeAreCCSF page:

Follow them on Twitter: @WeAreCCSF



Day On at CCSF

On a day when classes were cancelled and the campus was mostly deserted, more than 60 people arrived at City College of San Francisco’s Ocean campus at 10 AM on Friday. The event, organized by WeAreCCSF (Community, Classified, Students, Faculty), was the first of several to begin rebuilding the college for our community. Together, we picked up trash, pulled weeds, and inventoried the college’s computer equipment. It was one of my proudest days in more than ten years at the college.

2013-10-11 11.43.01

Community members, students, and college employees (both classified staff and faculty) worked side by side. Our goal was to put a small dent in the more than $1 billion deferred maintenance bill at the college, filling in temporarily until more workers can be hired for these jobs.

By the end of the day, the head of the college’s buildings and grounds thanked us, saying we’d done “at least a month of work.” The trash blowing around a windy campus is a perpetual problem, but college workers felt supported and appreciated and could look at what had been eyesore areas with renewed pride.

The aging computers at the college have to be inventoried before they can be replaced, so the computer inventory — now 85% complete — will benefit everyone at the college. The inventory can be finished quickly now that the amount of work is more manageable.

The mood was celebratory and positive. We laughed and joked while we worked. Students led chants as we moved from one job site to another. And at the end, we gathered in the cafeteria to eat and talk a little about the next day of working together.

Friday’s “Day On” was a small step toward repairing the broken parts of the college, rebuilding a positive culture , and restoring the community’s trust. I look forward to more days like it and to seeing more folks at the next one.

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CCSF Is Moving Forward on Accreditation

These days, CCSF is showing up in the news with more woes than wows. That’s about to change. This is the moment for us to look to the future.

While some folks are still nervous about our accreditation status, there is also anticipation of a new possibility ahead. Many of us see the new leadership and public attention as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Special Trustee Agrella is making critical money-saving choices, and Chancellor Brice is pushing us to strive toward excellence. By the way, yes, I have been accused of being a reckless optimist before, but I don’t care; I’m going there. I’m a believer. I believe we can make it happen—we can hold onto our accreditation, change and grow.

Every time I attend an Accreditation Committee meeting I hear a similar message. We’re moving forward. There are accountability structures in place. Someone is in charge of every standard CCSF was cited for on the ACCJC’s list. We have a new administration and leadership with a few key positions soon to be filled. Our new leadership is set to steer us in the right direction. Employees of the college will have the opportunity to meet our new leadership on September 17th for our next professional development event. The plan is to have a campus-wide vigorous discussion about accreditation. We have to educate ourselves and stay informed of the sweeping changes at our college if only to fight back the nausea that rises when we think of our beloved City College closing.

I find it inconceivable that our new administrators competed for their positions only to walk away after a few months of service. I believe they’ve signed on with us because they have a vision of where CCSF needs to go; they believe in us and have enough talent and skills to take us to a new level. They are delegating and collaborating with staff and faculty. They are working on meeting the standards—quickly. I’m not afraid of change, especially when it gives us a chance at surviving the worst possible outcome. I have no doubt that they want the college to remain accredited as much as we do.

Not surprisingly, our worries have become a national issue and concern. Many people are championing our cause. It’s wonderful that people care about us. I’d also like this energy to get directed toward the greater causes of underfunding in public education. As a great nation, we can afford to spend far less on the prison industrial complex and bloated military budget and far more on education, starting with preschool. We can’t expect to disinvest in our society’s public programs and infrastructure and have extraordinary outcomes. We must educate people in order to empower them with the resources to shape their own destinies. As a community college, our role as public servants must continue to be refined and strengthened if we are to remain relevant.

In terms of meeting the ACCJC’s standards, the good news is that most departments at CCSF are fully up to speed with SLOs and program review. All the other big stuff that we were cited for is going to rest on our new leadership. We have to trust that they’ve got it under control.

I, for one, am keeping those folks, and all of us, in my prayers. They are responsible and accountable for moving CCSF forward. I think we need to let go a little and let them do their jobs while we do ours. For those who really must know the fine details, the college is giving the play-by-play on our own accreditation action plan at Anyone can see who’s in charge of what. And, it gets updated regularly.

This is the moment for us to cast our gazes on the horizon of hope while taking careful steps to get there as a unified community.

Reflections for a new school year

With three days till the fall semester begins:

– I’m excited for the classes to begin. I have a good schedule with classes I enjoy teaching and a full complement of students.

– Despite a dramatic and crisis-filled summer at the college, I managed to carve out a good break from teaching. I had a little time with family and friends, and I also spent significant time breaking out the concrete in my backyard and building terraces for a new garden. It was incredibly satisfying work with results I wake up to every day.

– My nephew made a video about the number “6”:

Warms the heart of a math teacher uncle.

– I’m more and more encouraged by the number of my colleagues and students who contact me about what they can do to keep the college open.

– It’s hard for folks who don’t want to yell and protest to be heard amongst all the noise being made at and around the college. It’s the problem of being reasonable. Reasonable people don’t antagonize the people that make the decision about whether the college retains accreditation or not. Reasonable people note that everyone at the college has responsibility for how we got here and also for how we recover. Reasonable people articulate nuanced positions that don’t point fingers and suggest ways to improve the college. Reasonable people talk respectfully and usually at conversational levels.

– City College has a year to show it deserves to be accredited. I’m hopeful. Everyone, including the accrediting commission and the people who protest against them, wants City College to stay open and serve our community. All we have to do is give the commission a reason to keep us accredited.

Debunking student success myths

After several years of discussion about, work on, and sometimes controversy over student equity and the achievement gap at CCSF, these issues have mostly been lost in the accreditation crisis. For those of us that have actively pursued changes at the college to address the success of our African-American, Latino/a, Filipino/a, Pacific Islander, Native American, and other populations for which there are achievement gaps, it’s been frustrating that the accreditation standards don’t directly address this issue. But recent claims purporting to defend City College  based on our students’ success, both at CCSF and after they transfer, bring this conversation back to the fore.

I’ve been hearing two claims:

  1. Transfer students from CCSF do better at 4-year institutions than transfer students from other community colleges;
  2. CCSF students are more successful than the state average on the California Student Success Scorecard.

Let’s fact check claim #1: there is no data. The claim is unsubstantiated hearsay. In fact, I’ve seen no data at all that compares transfer students from different community colleges after they transfer. So, while I’d like to think CCSF students do as well or better than students from other community colleges after they transfer, I have no evidence that they do. If someone out there has the data, please send a link. If there is no data, then people need to stop making this claim.

There is data for claim #2: the statewide overall completion rate for community colleges is 49.2%; the overall completion rate for CCSF is 55.6%. Clearly, these data make it clear that City College students are completing at a substantially higher rate than the state average – but looking more closely at the data, disaggregated by ethnicity, a different picture emerges:

Completion Rate* for Cohort Tracked for Six Years Through 2011-12

State CCSF


49.2% 55.6%


39.0% 37.6%

American Indian/Alaskan Native

38.5% 23.8%


66.7% 71.7%


50.6% 34.6%


39.5% 39.1%

Pacific Islander

40.9% 38.6%


53.5% 50.8%

(*Completion Rate = percentage of degree and/or transfer-seeking students tracked for six years through 2011-12 who completed a degree, certificate or transfer related outcomes.)

The only ethnicity for which City College students surpass the state average completion percentage is Asian. For every other ethnicity, including White, CCSF students complete at lower percentages than the state average. For American Indians/Alaskan Natives and Filipinos the City College numbers are significantly lower.

People making claims about how successful our students are should make it clear exactly to which students they are referring. And any changes we make to retain accreditation should also help to close achievement gaps and make the college better for all our students.

A small step forward

An update and a clarification on my July 4 post:

Update: Yesterday’s march on the Department of Education notwithstanding, I’m happy to say that many of my faculty colleagues are beginning to recognize that continued protest against and criticizing of our accrediting commission (ACCJC) will likely have disastrous consequences. Much of the internal CCSF email dialog in the last couple days advocates for saving the college rather than protesting.

The commission’s decision for CCSF is not what we worked and hoped for — and many at the college and elsewhere have serious questions about their process — but a building majority is realizing that keeping the college open for our community is more important than any process concerns. It’s a small and important step forward.

Clarification: I do not think we should always do everything our authorities tell us to do. I support reasoned, thoughtful, and effective speech and action and I believe we have a responsibility to hold our leaders accountable. Sometimes that means disobeying laws and directives and there is always room for professional, respectful input and dialog about important decisions affecting our communities, our students, and ourselves.

But the City College community has had our say. Since the initial “Show Cause” ruling a year ago, we have worked, talked, met, requested information, testified, questioned decisions, chanted, marched, protested, and more. And while we accomplished a lot, it wasn’t enough. The college is still on “Show Cause” and we will close on July 31, 2014 unless the commission gives us another chance.

So while we still have an obligation to give input when we can, when decisions are made, as they will be by Special Trustee Agrella and our Chancellor, we need to listen and act. The stakes for our students are too high to do anything else.

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