“In On It”

People who learn English as a second language are often faced with a slew of idiomatic expressions that don’t always match with the exact wording that they have learned.

One such expression is “in on it”. From the idiom tab of the Free Dictionary online it states to be “in on something” is to be involved with something, such as an organization or an idea; informed about special plans.  Another definition is:  receiving a share of something.

Yesterday I witnessed and provided sound for over 1,000 marchers and people rallying around a cry to Save City College of San Francisco. Many spoke vehemently about the complete abuse of power and overreach of an accrediting commission in California for community colleges titled the ACCJC. If you click the link to the ACCJC home page it shows happy smiling students of diverse cultures staring directly at you in their graduate caps and gowns giving you the warm and fuzzy feeling that this organization does a lot to help these students achieve success.  It’s a pretty picture, but it doesn’t begin to describe the unabashed authoritarian rule of the commission itself. An accrediting commission that is like none other in the United States. The President of this rogue group of commissioners is Barbara Beno (former head of Vista College in Berkeley, CA and whose husband is a Dean at Laney College of Oakland, CA) and Dr. Sherill Amador who also sits on the power-hungry commission that has claimed that City College of San Francisco (one of the largest public colleges in the U.S.) is not worthy of accreditation. Both come from shady pasts of authoritarian misdoings. Amador resigned from Palomar College in 2003 after complaints of reported abuse of power and the faculty and staff issued a vote of No Confidence. Beno also faced a vote of no confidence. HOW DO THESE PEOPLE FROM CHECKERED PASTS END UP ON A POWERFUL ACCREDITATION COMMISSION (nearly unaccountable to no one but themselves) WITH ALL OF THE POWER AND A HUGE CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDER AGAINST UNIONS? They have apparently had it out for City College of San Francisco for some time and it’s been a long wait, but they are getting their payback…at the expense of 85,000 students and nearly 2500 faculty and classified staff.  Their findings state that CCSF’s accreditation should be revoked and plan it for July 2014.

When you start making the connections, you start to realize that our political leaders who are not standing with us in rallies nor speaking out about this injustice and in solidarity with us against such a overreach of power must be in on it. That is all I can conclude.

The State Chancellor of California Community Colleges (once a ACCJC commissioner  himself) and the Mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, have not questioned the obvious desire of the commission to “take down the giant” whose faculty union stood opposite the commission in their desire to enforce the Student Success Task Force Initiative which on the cover (like that of the ACCJC homepage) looks like a well-intentioned idea. However, when you truly read through the self-aggrandizing ideas and in-between the lines, you understand the real prescription for higher education here:  get ’em in and out quickly with mandatory declaration of a program of study the minute they walk in the door and prioritize enrollment for those who are on “the transfer path”.  That looks good on paper, but do you remember knowing exactly what you wanted to study when you were 17-18 years old.  And Community Colleges serve many more people than young students right out of high school trying to get on a degree path. These days how many jobs are available to recent degree holders? Many of the students at CCSF are immigrants learning ESL, unemployed people who have been laid off seeking a career change and others who are employed taking one or two classes  to increase their skill set.  We are home to many veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who seek refuge in learning as was promised them by the government through the GI bill. (Interesting aside: note how the home page picture of the GI Bill Benefits page resemble the home page of the ACCJC…)

However, the ACCJC does not like seeing City College of SF educate the masses. They also do not like a shared governance structure as it is in their opinion that authoritarian, autocratic leadership is the only way to successfully govern a college. Yes, the same reasons that Beno and Amador had troubles with the colleges from which they came. Again, what better way to get back at everyone in a years-long grudge of powerful unions than to bust the biggest college for everything they can find except the one thing CCSF does very well:  educate.  CCSF has been noted as a top community college in the United States by the New York Times. San Francisco residents overwhelming approved a recent tax measure to assist CCSF in the financial debacle that has come about from the millions cut from its funding from the State of CA for multiple years now.  The people want their college to remain the great place to get an education that stands now.  But the ACCJC and the State Chancellor of CCC wish to downsize it and that is at the heart of a campaign that began last Summer when the ACCJC put the college on “Show Cause” status. After a year of rigorous work to put everything in place that the commission requested of the school in 14 recommendations (none of which, again, had anything to do with the quality of education at CCSF which is truly what accreditation is all about) they still denied the college accreditation and proceeded to shred all evidence of a visiting team who checked on the college in March to see if new plans were in place. The faculty continued the excellence in educating the students despite efforts by an interim administration to lay off staff (in a sneaky move on Dec. 22, 2012 when many discovered they no longer had a job), cut classes, and roll out a repetitious PR effort aimed at bad press for the college.  A “college spokesperson” was paid $300/day to provide reports from the college administrators to the city’s largest newspaper about how bad things were at CCSF.  Never once was there any reporting about the excellence in teaching nor that the student success rate at CCSF is higher than most throughout the rest of the California Community Colleges.

The finances have been a mess for quite some time, this is true, yet the Vice Chancellor of Financial Affairs still has his job and has not been publicly questioned about why the college still has problems.  The passage of CA Prop 30 and the SF Measure A ensures that CCSF will have funding to adequately fill its reserves back to proper levels while at the same time keeping the classes and not lay off staff = maintaining the excellent education students have received there since 1935.  But the interim administration negatively turned their eye onto exactly what they had planned all along despite the passage of the money rescuing proposition and measure.  The AFT2121 faculty union demanded to see the press releases coming out of the chancellor’s office to the press. The chancellor and PR arm/consultant refused. There has been zero transparency at the college since the outsiders came in to take over.  And now in a wink-wink between the ACCJC and the State Chancellor and the special trustee who was brought in to help the college maintain its accreditation, who had complete veto power over the Board of Trustees for the past year earning $1000/day for his efforts is now the official czar of the college.

The role of the new “Super Trustee” is to have full power to do whatever he sees fit to regain the accreditation. This is an inside job of extreme proportions to shut down the voice of the workers by breaking unions and forcing the downsizing of the college by literally telling the SF community:  this school doesn’t deserve to remain open and it will close next year.  They don’t plan to close the school.  It bears repeating:  this is an inside job to shut everyone up and get that progressive faculty in line by lying to the public about CCSF’s inability to right itself.  We are all to tow the “downsize this college” line or else.  If this isn’t Scott Walker-style politics to take down a school that was rated among the best in the U.S. by the New York Times than I don’t know what is. The funding of public education has gotten in the way of money that is needed for more important tasks like say, funding new wars. And corporations run themselves so well, perhaps they should take over public education. This is the “reform movement” that is a bipartisan attempt by politicians to relieve themselves of public education funding and leave it to the corporate edu-mills that want to bind students into massive debt to the corporation.  The lower income people of the U.S. can’t afford privatized education and politician fat cats could give a damn. Why continue to educate the masses?  It just makes it harder for them to pull their agenda over on the majority of people in this country in the middle and lower classes. That agenda is to keep the wealthy free of paying their fair share of taxes. As long as the politicians are listening to the lobbyists and attending those “education foundation” conferences and dinners aimed to privatize rather than stand up for City College of San Francisco (ground zero of public education reform right now), then they are IN ON IT.

In on it defined:1.  involved with something, such as an organization or an idea; informed about special plans
2. receiving a share of something

monopoly man

About danaj33

writer * department chair of Broadcast Electronic Media Arts and audio faculty at City College of San Francisco * music composer and producer * always in discovery mode, learning, living, loving, and laughing.
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