Letter to the Editor: It’s Time to Say Goodbye to California’s Community College Accreditor

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Over the past several years, as public understanding has grown regarding the destructive role played by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) in the California community college system, so has momentum to remove the agency from its position as accreditor. Over the next three days the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI)—the oversight body for higher education accreditation of the US Department of Education (USDOE)—is meeting in Washington D.C., and one of its tasks will be to determine whether the ACCJC should continue to be the accreditor of record for California community colleges.

 An overwhelming body of evidence says “no.” Last year NACIQI, confronting the long list of documented abuses by ACCJC of its responsibilities, and after hearing from the diverse stakeholder organizations that sent speakers to testify before NACIQI, expressed its concern by recommending to the USDOE an unprecedented six month extension of ACCJC’s authority to accredit (normally five years).

 Stakeholders who agree that fair accreditation in California requires moving to a new accreditor include the California Community College Board of Governors, State Chancellor, district chief executive officers, the statewide faculty academic senate, and faculty unions, among others. The California state auditor found that the ACCJC suffers from a lack of transparency, an inadequate appeals process, and treats colleges inconsistently, among other problems. The California Superior Court found the ACCJC had broken four laws in the agency’s decision—since reversed—to disaccredit City College of San Francisco.

 The primary requirement for an accreditor is that it is “widely accepted” by the community it oversees. This is no longer true of the ACCJC. NACIQI should recommend to the USDOE that it assist California in planning to transition to a new accreditor.

Signed,
President Joshua Pechthalt
California Federation of Teachers