EDITORIAL: California right to oust college accrediting commission

California voted to unseat the commission that accredits its community colleges

The Board of Governors for California’s community colleges was right to pull the plug on an accrediting commission that lost its way.

Its handling of City College of San Francisco exposed the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges as arrogant, stubborn, nontransparent and obsessed with minutia instead of its main mission: assuring quality education for the students.

A scathing report by the state auditor, which examined five years of actions, laid out a long list of shortcomings by the accrediting commission.

In the CCSF case, the commission operated with a lack of transparency and accountability that left the college and the community frustrated in trying to steer a course to keep the college open. The commission was especially irritating last year in resisting a deadline extension for CCSF to finish addressing its problems even as it was making significant progress. The commissioners insisted they had no authority to grant an extension — though federal education officials made clear that they did.

The vote to oust the commission was 14-0.

Change will not come overnight. Community College Chancellor Brice Harris now has the task of developing a plan, with a timeline, to replace the commission.

The action does not mean a reprieve for CCSF, which has until January 2017 to be in full compliance.

The pressure remains on CCSF to meet its accreditation requirements, and for the commission overseeing the process to handle its duty with a sense of fairness and perspective that has been sadly lacking.

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Laura Ascione