In this, part four of the series entitled “Obama’s 20/20 plan for higher education: chump change you cannot believe in”, we will examine just how Obama and the mavens of privatization, Lumina and friends, use accrediting agencies that work to allow what were once called community colleges to live or die. This is another deceptive method Lumina is using to foster its radical social Darwinian project of dismantling public education.
Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges are converted into hit squads
To take over such accrediting agencies like the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), Lumina provides large ‘grants’ or payoffs to the accrediting agencies that are packed with sycophantic Lumina all-stars willing to swing the wrecking ball at the public commons.
In a bold move, in May of 2011, Lumina loaded up the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) saddles with $1.5 million in ‘free money’, all part of the advocacy philanthropy we spoke of in part three of this series (http://www.dailycensored.com/obamas-2020-plan-for-higher-education-the-lumina-foundation-and-the-new-21st-century-social-darwin-movement/). In exchange for the booty, WASC was told to focus on key areas of private Lumina concerns. Here is the frothy rhetoric:
- Reviewing retention and graduation data for all institutions at each degree level and for a variety of subgroups, and working with institutions to improve these rates where appropriate
- Identifying key competencies for graduates, primarily at the baccalaureate level, and externally validating institutional outcomes in these areas
- Exploring the use of the Degree Qualifications Profile in the accrediting process as a way of creating a common framework for the meaning of degrees at each level
- Expanding the transparency of the WASC accreditation process by publishing information about institutional reviews on the WASC website, including a quality measures report, and expecting institutions to make more information about student learning and success public and readily available.
- Examining and developing new approaches to accreditation to meet the needs of new generations of learners, including those attending multiple institutions, and to accommodate new modes of higher education organization and delivery in the 21st century (http://www.wascsenior.org/announcements/luminagrant).
In October of 2012 the ACCJC received a hefty grant from the Lumina Foundation for what is called, “The Degree Qualification Profile”, a thirty month project that in the words of the ACCJC:
“…is a generic framework for redefining student competencies associated with a degree and was developed with the support of the Lumina Foundation” (http://www.accjc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Letter_Lumina-Grant-Notification_-10-10-2012.pdf).
As we saw in part three, anything that aids and abets the plans of Lumina mean a depressing sorting and culling of students along with emphasis on ‘student learning outcomes” tied to STEM.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also awarded WASC $1.5 million in grants to carry out the work of the privatizers (http://www.aft2121.org/PDF/Reso20_DemandFairGovernance.pdf). They work alongside the Lumina Foundation but are really partners in the Department of Education which is wholly owned and operated by the plutocrats.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and its subsidiary, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) not only form a powerful part of the governing mechanism of public education, through their power to grant or withhold accreditation of schools, but they now operate as ‘assassins’ for the international cabal that is the ‘matrix’ for reengineering colleges and universities. They are now agencies for the corporate class.
Lumina’s and Bill Gates’ use of accrediting agencies as “scicarios” became very clear when on July 2, 2013, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) refused to accredit the City College of San Francisco (CCSF). This after years of threats and sanctions.
The City College of San Francisco is one the largest community colleges in the nation which is why Lumina and Gates targeted it. They knew that if they could ‘knock off’ the largest community college system in the US (especially on in SF, what is thought of as a bastion of liberalism), then their corporate plans and their gestation period for the handoff to Wall Street would give birth that much faster. Going after the biggest player was and is the plan. Now that they have been successful, Lumina will move like locusts from state to state.
CCSF was established in 1935. It is the largest community college in California and one of the largest in the US. It has 90,000 students in attendance and 2,700 faculty and staff on board. The entire charade to discredit the college was a veiled threat and shakedown scheme forged by partners in public crime, WASC and the Lumina Foundation. The two accrediting agencies used their combined force by requiring CCSF to engage in draconian anti-student, anti-faculty budget cuts (such as pre-funding health care for teachers) and by going after pension funds through assuring future part time faculty would replace tenured faculty. All of this the school has been able to resist over the past years to accomplish their Wall Street master’s goals.
In fact the attack and subsequent discrediting of CCSF by WASC and the ACCJC was all a well-designed propaganda effort that worked. Disparaging the college was all part of the plan.
Yet the New York Times stated in an article dated as early as April 22, 2007 and entitled, “Community College, For Achievers, a New Destination”, that CCSF was one of a select few featured as a model community college.
“City College reflects its hometown both in racial composition (40 percent Asian) and culture (programs include Philippine studies; gay, lesbian and bisexual studies; and culinary and hospitality studies). The Institute of International Education consistently ranks City College among the top 10 community colleges in sending students to study abroad. Students can spend next fall and spring studying language and art history in Paris, Florence or Madrid. Foreign study credits are either all or partly transferable to California’s two state systems.
The rock-bottom line: $20 a credit hour, or $600 for two semesters. And there’s an impressive rate of return: 75 percent of full-time students return for the second year” (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/education/edlife/bestccs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).
The sharp attack on all colleges, public and non-profit, began shortly thereafter. The Chronicle of Higher Education was one of the news journals that led the way on August 11, 2010 with an article entitled, “149 Nonprofit Colleges Fail Education Department’s Test of Financial Strength” (http://chronicle.com/article/149-Nonprofit-Colleges-Fail/123878/).
Many more articles would follow. These articles would appear for some time urging the public to accept a phony attack on the public commons. These articles, reports, essays and journal pieces emanated from Lumina and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But they were not alone. Every public reactionary jumped on the band wagon in an effort to corner one of the largest city colleges in the US.
The assault on City College of San Francisco (CCSF) may have seemed to come out of nowhere but the plans for attacking the college and taking away its accreditation was a well planned and organized ‘social movement’ that Lumina loves to boast about. They must be wetting themselves in glee now while planning their next attack on the bewildered public and their once public institutions.
The initial attacks might have all started as early as 2005 when after nearly four decades leading the national movement to improve higher education, the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) Board of Directors announced in March of that year the Association would cease operations later in 2005 (http://www.accjc.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/accjc_june_2005_newsletter.pdf). However, the real attack on CCSF started in 2012.
This is of particular interest for what the closure of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE) did was allow the ACCJC to become the leading “Standard and Poors” in regards to education. Centralizing power in one agency that could then be controlled by Lumina, Gates and the privatizers allowed the matrix to build up and then financially and with personnel, arm the ACCJC for the ultimate attack on CCSF and other community colleges in California.
In July of 2012 the fight began and CCSF was graded “F” by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and given until March 15, 2013 to correct supposed defects or face complete closure. With Board of Trustees approval, the Interim Chancellor took a wrecking ball to CCSF — all in the name of “austerity.” This was timed to coincide with the brutal ‘shock therapy’ to public education and is a glaring example of a nationwide strategy to overthrow public education, conceived behind closed doors and open think tank reports.
In another well-crafted think tank report out by the Lumina Foundation the Bay Area (at 4.4 million people (in the SF-Oakland-Fremont metro, a demographic designation), was ranked No. 11 in overall population by Lumina. But they noted that with 52.7 percent of its people having at least an associate college degree, it rose to No. 3, behind Washington, D.C., and Boston metro areas. The Lumina Foundation report stated at the time that:
“California clearly has a long way to go. California’s “attainment rate” — the percentage of people getting a college degree — among young adults is below the national rate of 40.1 percent. California’s rate for young people is just 38 percent” (http://www.luminafoundation.org/publications/A_stronger_nation_through_higher_education-2013.pdf).
Then there was the The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Postsecondary Success Initiative” which served to influence the new “Student Success Initiative” developed last year by the California Board of Governors for Community Colleges (another public face of privatization) and then adopted by the state Legislature. It is essential to note that the attacks on CCSF by the ACCJC are lifted from this initiative (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/What-We-Do/US-Program/Postsecondary-Success). Gates and Lumina write the music and the coin operated politicians dance.
Picture of James Merisotis from Lumina
The rapidity of the assault against CCSF was being pushed in 2012 at alarming speeds by WASC and by the supplicant local Board of Trustees. One example is that in the first two weeks of the fall school semester of 2012, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of cutting the mission statement of the school where the goals of active engagement in the social fabric of the community, lifelong learning, life skills, and enrichment courses were mentioned. This makes sense. For as supplicants of the corporate interests that feed them, they understood Lumina and Gates’ goal of taking down CCSF.
Buying off communities
Then, in a smart move to buy off the Asian American community in San Francisco, on February 15, 2013 Lumina announced that The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE), the leading Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) student- and research-focused organizations, respectively, would receive a $200,000 grant from Lumina Foundation for the Partnership for Equity in Education through Research (PEER) project. They termed this “a bold, three-year effort” aiming to increase AAPI student access and success. The grant supports one of the largest investments in the group’s history, with more than $2 million in cash, to improve educational outcomes for the AAPI student population.
The whole thing was a sham and a shame. What the payoff really represented was to suborn a sector of the growing Asian San Francisco community in a clever attempt to thwart growing unity in political action to keep CCSF open (http://changingfaceofamerica.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/PEER-Lumina-News-Release-FINAL-021513.pdf). The whole travesty was a clear divide and conquer strategy to assure no political affiliations would coalesce and challenge the Lumina plan. It worked.
Not ironically or surprisingly, Lumina has done the same thing with the new majority in America: the burgeoning Latino population. Under the word ‘equity’ Lumina has published the “Urgency of Now”. They pose as friends of the Latino population seeking equity (http://www.luminafoundation.org/tag/latino_students/). This too is another faux attempt to buy off a constituency needed to assure the privatization plans for community colleges is accomplished without facing unified opposition.
In November of 2011, Lumina stated in their paper, “Latino Student Success: A Key driver on the Road to 2025:
“Latinos are the fastest-growing student population in America and a new effort is now focused on leveraging the critical connection between their educational attainment and the future of our national economy. Today, Lumina Foundation launches a collaborative partnership designed to strengthen ventures in key metropolitan areas that show promise in improving the postsecondary attainment of Latino students.
Under the project, Lumina will provide a total of $7.2 million over a four-year period to 12 partnerships in 10 states with significant and growing Latino populations. The partnerships will leverage community leaders across key policy, education, business and nonprofit sectors to build, implement and sustain successful “place-based efforts” that capitalize on their local talents and ingenuity” (http://www.luminafoundation.org/newsroom/news_releases/2011-11-07.html)
Then, in April of 2012 the Lumina Foundation bellied up “$11.5 million to thirteen partnerships working to increase college graduation rates among Latino-American students”. Labeled under the moniker of, Excelencia in Education, and the Foundation Strategy Group, the partnerships (The Unidos Project, as Lumina calls their divide and conquer strategy (http://news.unm.edu/2012/10/unidos-project-receives-lumina-foundation-grant/) have been working to develop projects, they say, are aimed at increasing postsecondary education attainment for more than two hundred thousand students. The swag will enable the corporate partnerships to leverage community leadership (meaning paid off public officials and non-profits) across sectors in the design, implementation, and sustainability of college preparation, access, and success strategies for Latino students ((http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?id=395300002).
More subterfuge, more lies and further attempts to gain “buy in” through “buying out” the Latino community. The real truth is that beneath the glossy patina lie the real plans of Lumina and friends. As said, the chuckle heads look to shrink attendance at colleges, not increase them while they also seek to cull students in an attempt to decide who can and who cannot go to college. To do this they must use their well of fear and panic peddling as well as payoffs to non-profits, community groups and of course the ruling elite.
Never mind the rhetoric, for since then a massive plan of layoffs and course cuts had been proposed for CCSF and these are only the first salvos the Trustees (entrusted as they are to the ruling elites and plutocrats) had announced before setting in stone their plan of action plan for privatization by denying accreditation. Essentially the plan was to euthanize CCSF and its community, staff, faculty, students and anyone else interested in democracy and education. Lumina is hardwired with fraud and abuse.
CCSF to close in 2014
What this all means is that CCSF will close in 2014, save some doubtful changes and militant struggle, and this will throw 90,000 students to the wolves of for profit colleges, like the notorious University of Phoenix or any of the other thirteen for-profit cartel members (http://www.dailycensored.com/community-college-of-san-francisco-fails-to-receive-lumina-backed-accreditation-the-fix-was-in/). It also means many students, the majority Asian Americans and Latinos, who once were able to go to CCSF to pursue an education, may end up on the mean streets, become part of rising suicide rates, turn to drug trafficking or gangs and even more disgusting, end up in for-profit prisons like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
On a side note, even though one cannot deduce causality per se, it is interesting to note that after the announcement of the 2014 CCSF closing, CCA (listed and traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange), showed a hefty spike on July 2, 2013 in its volume of sales of shares, the date of the announcement that CCSF would not be reaccredited. Its volume of stock transactions, from 1,978,589 on July 1, 2013, skyrocketed to 3,137,733 on July 2, 2013, the date the ACCJC announced that they would not accredit CCSF (http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/cxw/historical). Whether there is any causality we will never know but one thing we do know: disposable youth is big business for private for-profit corporations (phony colleges and privatized prisons) and Wall Street traders know it.
The ACCJC and the brazen conflicts of interest and criminal associations with Lumina
The ACCJC has so many conflicts of interest – from its acceptance of monies from Lumina and Gates to the agencies undemocratic and nepotistic packed board. On May 9, 2013 teacher and activist Wendy Kaufmyn from the CCSF Engineering and Technology Department wrote the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to complain about ACCJC’s lack of transparency and their non-compliance with Section 9G of CHEA’s Recognition of Accrediting Organizations Policy and Procedure.
Picture of Barbara Beno meeting with ACCJC
In her letter, she spoke of the March 2013 California Federation of Teachers (CFT) adopted resolution that pointed out the lack of transparency and lack of accountability exhibited by the ACCJC with specific concerns about their receiving funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation. She also indicated that the CFT resolution resolved that “the ACCJC should divest themselves from the Gates Foundation and the Lumina Foundation immediately; and that it should become publicly funded and publicly controlled organizations, fully transparent and accountable to the public power (http://www.saveccsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ThirdPartyLetter-CHEA.pdf). Of course petitioning the king doesn’t work, nor does bending down on one knee at the thrown. The agencies are all in this large matrix together.
The letter fell on deaf ears, for the whole cabal of so-called public agencies have circled the wagons around the Lumina and Gates; they big plans for destroying public education in favor of corporatization. The fix was in and it still is.
In the state of California, the ACCJC successfully closed Compton College, and Cuesta College and College of the Redwoods was on the chopping block as well (http://sfbayview.com/2012/corporations-try-to-kill-community-colleges/). There are many more. For the agency has been taken from one that was to benefit the public good to one that is now equipped to assassinate the public good.
In fact, for the past ten years, ACCJC has issued an extraordinarily high number of sanctions. As documented in the publication “ACCJC Gone Wild” from 2003 to 2008 ACCJC issued 112 sanctions compared to 14 sanctions issued by all the other U.S. accrediting agencies. In 2012 ACCJC performed the once-every-six-years review of 21 colleges, resulting in ten sanctions for a 47% sanction rate. Of the 10 sanctions, the harshest was “show cause” issued against City College of San Francisco (CCSF) (http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=11295).
Again, CCSF was purposely targeted for extinction by Lumina and friends precisely to set an example and provide an opportunity to decimate one of the largest community colleges in the nation.
ACCJC sued for myriad violations of the law in their successful attempt to discredit CCSF
One of the best places to see the innumerable violations by the ACCJC in their bold bid to close CCSF for their paymasters, Lumina and friends, is by perusing the lawsuit filed by an Oakland based law firm representing AFT Local 2121, et al.
The suit was entitled Accrediting Commission For Community and Junior Colleges, and City College of San Francisco. AFT Local 2121 California Federation of Teachers, CFT/AFT, AFL-CIO, and it comprised the third party comments and complaints; the suit is over 260 pages in length. You can read it online at: (http://www.accjc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Report_on_CFT_Complaint_05_30_2013.pdf).
There is also a lawsuit pending against ACCJC (http://www.lrcft.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Third-Party-Comment-and-Complaint-v-74-04-26-13-1.pdf) by Oakland attorneys. In it, the criminal and moral actions of ACCJC are spelled out thoroughly and in crisp, clear detail. However, for sake of this article, we will bullet only the most obvious. Readers are encouraged to read the lawsuit for it is thorough and is still pending in a court of law.
As of fnow, CCSF has not be dis-accredited but save struggle, it will be in 2014.
Conflicts of interest in ACCJC appointments
The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education states that:
“Barbara Beno has served as president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), since 2001. Prior to her appointment, she served as commissioner for the ACCJC and the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, WASC. Previously, she served as president of Berkeley City College (formerly Vista Community College) for 12 years, assistant chancellor of the San Mateo Community College District, research and planning director for the Peralta Community College District, and a university faculty member in sociology. She was chair of the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions from 2006 to 2009. Beno received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in history (B.A.) and sociology from Stony Brook University” (http://www.wiche.edu/alliance/meetings/annual2013/speakers).
But that is only one small part of her insidious biography, for Beno is one of the advisory board members of the Campaign for College Opportunity, already identified in this article as a Lumina front group.
According to Lumina itself:
The same rhetoric about ‘partnerships’. These are not partnerships at all — they are part and parcel of a Wall Street backed mafia. This is the ‘matrix’ and the Campaign for College Opportunity is simply one faux organizational component. Lumina jsut made sure they had $400,000 to reach Wall St.’s goals.
Take a look at the luminary liberals and corporate democrats that are on-board with Lumina and there front organization at: (http://collegecampaign.org/v1/assets/docs/timlim/Early-Endorsers-1MM-Campaign.pdf).
They are all there assembled and ready for corporate duty. You will find that Robert Agrella, now brought back to assure no life is left in the campus body of CCSF, is on the list. So are Beno’s cronies and Lumina sycophants.
As the Commissioner of ACCJC, Beno has been at the forefront of full blown attacks on community colleges throughout California. She can be compared to Margaret Spelling, the Department of Education head under George W. Bush. Spelling was a shill for the privatizers under Bush where she turned the DOE into a private entity. Beno is in the same capacity, acting as the voice and power for the privatizers using WASC and the ACCJC.
Her background is perfect for the privatizers for she brings to bear all the titles needed to complete the job. Beno was President of the Accrediting Commission for Community, Commissoner for the Accrediting Commission for Community, Executive Director of the Accrediting Commission for Community, Commission for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the President of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. She has been Chair of the Council Regional Accrediting Commissions, and Incoming Chair of the Council, Regional Accrediting Commissions. This, of course, was one of the reasons she was picked by Lumina to carry out the college’s homicide.
Beno and the hit-squad, ACCJC lead the nation in sanctioning community colleges while enjoying a brutal conflict of interest
The ACCJC has been very busy, working arduously for their masters, Lumina and friends.
In a study of actions taken between 2003 and 2008 it was found that the other five regions of the US where community colleges exist had sanction rates ranging between zero and six percent. In contrast, the ACCJC, under Beno, imposed sanctions on 37% of community colleges in California (41 of California’s 110 community colleges). Remarkably, the ACCJC generated 89% of all sanctions issued nationwide during this period. All of this was, as we will see, orchestrated by the large forces of the private matrix of plutocrats and venture capitalists.
From June 2011 to June 2012, the ACCJC issued 64% of the seventy-five sanctions issued nationwide. At present 25% of California’s community colleges are on sanction (Hittelman, Martin. “ACCJC Gone Wild.” Jan. 21, 2013. available at: (http://www.aft1493.org/component/content/article/168-accjc-gone-wild-in-depth-report-takes-on-accjc.html).
Empty classes and seats at CCSF
Barbara Beno is not simply a formidable supplicant for Lumina and friends, she is the ‘assassin’s hand’ employed to assure that Lumina accomplishes its tasks of closing schools that do not comply with their plans. This is the same tactic Arne Duncan, now the head of the DOE uses to ‘sanction’ schools that do not go along with Race to the Top for K-12. The privatizer’s plans under Obama’s Race to the Top for higher education are parallel.
A February 2011 newsletter from the ACCJC refers to a conflict of interest policy. It seems the Commission is constituted largely by its president Barbara Beno (http://www.saveccsf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ACCJC-Facts-and-Analysis.pdf).
Though ACCJC is an agency with a ficuiary responsibility to the public and their higher education institutes, ACCJC has an executive staff of six: a president—Dr. Barbara Beno—and five vice presidents. The Commission is composed of 18 people, including five faculty members, a representative of the Chancellor’s Office, and one seat for “independent institutions” (for-profit colleges).
Actions such as adopting sanctions are taken at two Commission meetings each year (www.accjc.org). Teams such as the one that visited City College of San Francisco are composed of administrators and (rarely) faculty. Although commission members are ‘volunteers’ ACCJC appears to be a staff-driven organization heavily directed by the professional staff (Evaluation Report: City College of San Francisco (2012). p.2).
Even as far back as August of 2010, the US Department of Education ruled that ACCJC “violated federal rules in choosing its commissioners and (it) lacks sufficient controls against conflicts of interest.” The director of the accreditation division of the US DOE’s Office of Postsecondary Education wrote that the ACCJC was in violation of several federal regulations in the way it selects its commissioners. The review was undertaken in a response to complaints lodged in May by Chancellor Jack Scott of the California Community Colleges.
As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, this ruling found that “Faculty, staff and trustee representatives of the committee that selects commissioners are chosen using an informal process that ‘does not provide transparency to the selection process, and therefore, does not provide clear and effective controls against conflicts of interest.’’ (http://ceea.ier.edu.vn/thong-bao-tin-tuc/tin-tuc-bang-tieng-anh/322-accreditor-of-californiacolleges-lacks-conflict-of-interest-protections-federal-review-says).
One glaring example is Peter Crabtree, President Beno’s husband. He served on the “independent” CCSF Evaluation Team, where he was placed in a powerful position to review and weigh the commission reviews of CCSF during 2007, 2009 and 2010, set forth in letters signed by his wife.
Nepotism and outright conflicts of interest rule the day. Mr. Crabtree had not been placed on an ACCJC evaluation team reviewing a California community college since 2002. Crabtree was once the president of Peralta college which was recently taken off the ‘sanctisons’ list by ACCJC (http://www.lrcft.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Third-Party-Comment-and-Complaint-v-74-04-26-13-1.pdf ). It seems that ACCJC is run by Bonnie and Clyde.
And there’s even more, much more. For the lawsuit alleges that:
“During 2011 and 2012, ACCJC actively and publicly supported the controversial recommendations made by a task force created by the State Chancellors Office, the “Student Success Task Force,” and its resulting legislative bill, SB 1456. This bill, as originally proposed, attempted to significantly change the mission of California’s community colleges and California’s Master Plan for Education. Most controversial was the proposal, considered radical by many within the community college system, to eliminate “open access” to the California community colleges. “Open access” has been at the core of the community college system, a part of California’s Master Plan for Education, for more than half a century. Opposing the proposals of the Task Force and SB 1456 were several organizations, but CCSF was among the most public and outspoken. ACCJC’s partisan advocacy for SB 1456, occurring The Student Success Task Force, announced by the California Community Colleges in January 2011, was aimed at developing a strategy “to help community college students to succeed”76 and to deal with the monumental costs of the rescission. The 20 members of the Task Force were appointed by the Chancellor’s Office and included mostly college administrators or board members, and four faculty representatives. From the beginning it appeared to some that the Task Force already knew what it wanted.
Regardless, it was dominated by management, with 11 administrators, 3 board members, and the 4 faculty representatives. In other words, within two weeks of the January 9 hearing, at which students and faculty from CCSF and elsewhere had publicly and vociferously expressed their opposition, the Task Force publicized that ACCJC was a “key supporter” of the Task Force’s controversial recommendations. And it did this on the eve of the team training held on February 7, 2012 for the CCSF reaccreditation evaluation. Again, several members of the ACCJC offered additional support and endorsement to the Task Force by their participation in the Campaign for College Opporunity, also listed as an early supporter” (ibid).
On April 9, 2012, just three weeks after the site visit to CCSF by the evaluation team appointed by ACCJC, Barbara Beno, on behalf of the ACCJC, wrote strong letters of support to each of the State senators who belonged to the Senate Education Committee, urging adoption of SB 1456 (see The Campaign for College Opportunity, Lumina) (ibid). She was basically using a public agency to lobby for private interests. ACCJC’s conflict with the Lumina funded Campaign for College Opportunity is simply another direct conflict of interest.
Then there is ACCJC’s Involvement With The Campaign for College Opportunity and the Community College League of California.
Picture of Wal Mart shirted Lumina functionaries
ACCJC participates, through its President Barbara Beno, its Vice Chair Commissioner Steve Kinsella, and it’s Vice President John Nixon, in a membership or trade association known as, you guessed it the Lumina Campaign for College Opportunity, which strongly supported the original vision of SB 1456 and the ill named, Student Success Task Force (SSTF). Nixon is a Lumina made man as well (http://www.berkeleycitycollege.edu/wp/edcomm/files/2012/11/ACCJC-Lumina-Foundation-Project-Summary-3.pdf).
ACCJC also works closely with the Community College League of California, which also supported the original version of SB 1456. A report of the Delta Cost Project Supported by Making Opportunity Affordable, an initiative of yes, the Lumina Foundation for Education, also found that Beno, Kinsella and Nixon are advisory board members of the Campaign for College Opportunity (ibid).
Clearly ACCJC should not have been in the capacity to both be an advocate for SB 1456 and an evaluator of CCSF, one of the principal opponents of SB 1456. President Beno wrote both the advocacy letter to the Legislature supporting a change in California community college’s mission as well as the sanction letter dinging CCSF for, among other things, not reconsidering its mission (ibid).
ACCJC attacks worker’s health care and benefits
One of the primary reasons ACCJC placed CCSF on show cause status is the college’s alleged failure to make progress towards “addressing” its estimated future liabilities for retiree health benefits. This lack of progress is indicated as a “deficiency”, according to President Beno’s July 2, 2012 Action Letter to CCSF. The “deficiency” was described as the college’s failure to “pre-fund” its “liabilities” for Other Post-Employment Benefits (“OPEB”), by not paying the “Annual Required Contribution” into an irrevocable “trust.” But this is all smoke and mirrors.
The Lumina Foundation has made it very clear that one of their national goals and what they wish to accomplish is the full scaling back of all pension benefits and health care benefits for teachers at community colleges. Here, Beno was instrumental along with her criminal associates in accomplishing just this.
Readers might know that under George W. Bush, the U.S. Postal Service for the first time in its history was required to pre-fund its health care retiree benefits. Since 2006, the Post Office has been legally required to pre-fund health benefits for future retirees at a cost of around $5.5 billion a year. This was all an orchestrated attack by privatizers to break the back of the postal service and lead to the removal of unionized federal employees, the main enemies of the ruling elite. For the first time last year, the postal service defaulted on its annual payment which of course, was all in the plans. Now, Saturday mail is threatened as is the entire system.
When it comes to CCSF and other community colleges, the same plan was hatched and who better to accomplish this than ACCJC under the autocratic rule of Beno and her suited administrators. The target: retiree health benefits.
Retiree health benefits were first offered to school and community college employees in the 1960s, the result of State policy adopted by the Legislature which encouraged public entities to provide this benefit. From the beginning, these benefits were typically funded on a pay-as-you-go basis – just like the US Postal Service. They were never designed to be pre-paid.
But ACCJC acts as though retiree health care liabilities are a debt. They are not. They are part of compensation, as is salary and they are negotiated for through collective bargaining. Much like salary, the future cost is variable, turning on numerous factors. Districts and other public entities are not and have not generally been required to prefund their future salary payments. But this all changed when Lumina put the issue in its rifle sights.
Some history regarding Beno’s attempt to force CCSF to pre-pay retiree health benefits
A bit of history is needed to fully understand this issue.
In its June 29, 2006 Reaccreditation Letter to CCSF, ACCJC recommended that the college “address funding for retiree health benefit costs.” As of June 30, 2010, ACCJC had identified the “pre-funding of the health benefits as a “concern” of the Commission, and was demanding that CCSF deposit funds into an irrevocable trust to pre-fund OPEB liabilities.
In 2012, the ACCJC criticized the college for failing to implement this recommendation (July 2, 2012 Letter, p. 2-3, http://www.lrcft.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Third-Party-Comment-and-Complaint-v-74-04-26-13-1.pdf). Prefunding, as expected by ACCJC and Lumina, would more than double the current pay-as-you-go expense of retiree health benefits, thus reducing the funds available for the offering of classes and other student services — precisely what Lumina and its ACCJC wanted so they could break the back of the college by arguing teachers were greedy and unions too powerful.
For CCSF’s Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2012, the college paid $7,243,730 toward the current cost of retiree health benefits. Had CCSF followed the Commission’s directive and prefunded health care, the cost would have been more than twice as much — the sum of $16,590,309. Such expenditures most would certainly have necessitated reductions in college classes and services, harming students and staff. In this way, like the postal service, the college would go broke and Lumina could point their greedy fingers at unions and teachers.
As early as spring of 2006, in an edition of the League in Action newsletter it was stated:
“California’s community colleges face a $ 2.5 billion unfunded liability over the next 30 years for retiree health benefits. We need to ensure that our community colleges are equipped to meet the new accounting standards and to secure healthcare benefits for current and future retirees. This approach … is the most prudent …” Quote from Lumina funded Kinsella president/superintendent of Gavilan CCD, is the chair of the JPA Board of Directors (ibid)
Thus, the plan, similar to that which broke the back of the US Postal Service, had been conjured up ahead of time in smoke filled rooms as a strategy for withholding accreditation to the college.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Kinsella and Mr. Gomick are alleged in the April 30th, 2013 complaint to have disqualifying conflicts of interest in regards to the Commission’s reliance on prefunding health benefits for community college workers. Both are alleged to have served at various times as board members of a Retiree Health Benefits Joint Powers Authority. This trust collected prefunded contributions from some community colleges which were accredited by ACCJC (http://www.lrcft.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Third-Party-Comment-and-Complaint-v-74-04-26-13-1.pdf ).
At times Mr. Kinsella and/or Mr. Gomick served as chairs or members of ACCJC evaluation teams which reviewed colleges to evaluate their prefunding of estimated OPEB liabilities. Evidence of their activities involving conflicting dual roles (e.g. evaluation team member or chairs, ACCJC Commissioner or task force members, and JPA founders, board member, etc.) is set forth in the April 30rh Complaint as well (Ibid, See pp. 124-167).
In 2012, Beno Intervened to Lobby the State Legislature to Allow Retired Administrators to Earn More Money as Interim Administrators
In spring 2012, while CCSF was under review by ACCJC, the Commission worked with CCSF’s lobbying arm, CCSF’s Office of Governmental Relations, to support legislation benefitting administrators in the community colleges. The Commission was brought into the matter through CCSF’s Interim Chancellor Pamela Fisher who in another coordinated sham, decided to seek assistance from Barbara Beno. This situation indicates how easy the Commission involves itself in political issues connected with colleges, administrators.
And so it was, for on May 1, 2012, Pamela Fisher, from Montana was appointed by CCSF as its Interim Chancellor, following the sudden departure of its former Chancellor, due to illness. She was to be paid a pro-rated monthly salary based on a total yearly salary of $276,000, along with housing and auto allowances, and a plane flight home each month. See (http://theguardsman.com/newchancellor/?wpmp_switcher=mobile). These are your tax dollars at work. What is more staggering is that this was all done while the ACCJC was claiming that CCSF was financially irresponsible.
Lumina also relied upon Beno to convince the colleges through intimidation and threats of pulling accreditation, to join and pay into the Community College League of California’s Retiree Health benefit Joint Powers Authority (JPA trust). The JPA trustees, such as Kinsella, have a fiduciary duty to maximize the fund’s return and to build up its assets. Beno’s staff kindly placed Kinsella on team after team where in a clear conflict of interest he judged prefunding for health retirees. ACCJC also put him on its financial task force to write policies and guidelines which surely included forcing the prefunding of health care for retirees. This is all blatantly illegal and a moral travesty.
Not surprisingly, some of the powerful partnerships are looking gleefully at all this, including Bank of America who wants to get their hands on the pre-funded mandates. They were and are counting on their paid surrogates to hand over taxpayer and retiree cash as fast as they possibly can to the criminal banks that brought down the economy (https://www.bankofamerica.com/philanthropic/grantmaking.go) (http://www.luminafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/CIC2004.pdf).
The corruption is so vicious that the community College League of California even established a ‘trust relationship’ with Union Bank of California (http://www.gavilan.edu/pio/pressrelease.php?pr=219) to harbor the stolen swag.
The coup d’état: ACCJC consistently acts to advance the interests of administrators, at the expense of students, the public, faculty and staff
Barbara Beno and the ACCJC consistently wield the power of the Commission to advance the interests of administrators, both generally and individuals, at the expense of faculty, staff, board members, students, and the public. So while they talk about access and affordability they seek high paid administrators to carry out their ruthless plans. These are not isolated instances, but occur over and over again, throughout the community colleges. While Beno or the Commission would likely insist these actions are taken only to “improve” the community colleges, the facts suggest an abuse of authority and fiduciary responsibility.
Beno, under Lumina’s direction, exercises the power of the Commission to improve compensation for administrators, to assure that administrators are not being criticized by faculty, to restrict faculty speech, to compel “harmony” at the expense of free speech – all of this is a misuse of the accreditation process and violates 20 USC section 1099b, which demands that accreditors be reliable (http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/financially-troubled-sf-school-spending-thousands-/nRCXw/).
So, while CCSF is forced to weather further (and much deeper) pay cuts, and the deans have been terminated, while a large number of staff are receiving their termination notices as well, these Lumina branded “carpetbaggers” have swept in, made changes while the CCSF board looks the other way, and then they assure they have stories in the newspaper, the SF Gate to name one, about how amazing they are in their search to save CCSF from itself. The whole thing is one big coup d’état (http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3mZ_oVVhd7kJ:ccsf.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id%3D2%26clip_id%3D100%26meta_id%3D7993+&hl=en&gl=us).
The Commission’s obstinate focus on increasing the number of administrative positions and their compensation has created a new, larger market for them. Since the “crack down” on accreditation that started in the early 2000s, at least 196 administrative positions that deal exclusively with accreditation matters have been created at ACCJC member institutions. These newly created positions often even bear the Orwellian names like the Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and the Vice President of Student Learning Outcomes. The supposed necessity for these additional administrators emanates from the demands that the ACCJC place on colleges in order to comply with their standards — standards or ‘student learning outcomes’ spelled out by Lumina.
Take the CCSF Evaluation team, appointed by the “staff” of the ACCJC for the March 2012 evaluation of the college. It consisted of 17 members. Of these, 13 were administrators, 1 was a board member, and just 3 were faculty. In other words, although CCSF has nearly 2,500 faculty (close to 80% of its workforce), it represented just 18% of the evaluation team. And the team’s leaders - the chair, the assistant chair, and those assigned to lead the standards reviews — they were all managers. This is all part of the military styled coup that successfully overthrew the college.
The call for greater administrative hiring is no coincidence, as 14 of the 19 Commissioners are themselves administrators, or former administrators, and 75% of site-visit evaluators are administrators-all of whom invariably protect the interest of administrators. Despite the continual citation to colleges that they hire more administrative (http://www.lrcft.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Third-Party-Comment-and-Complaint-v-74-04-26-13-1.pdf ).
What happened at CCSF was a coordinated attack and eventual coup d’état. The facts clearly show this. Taking down CCSF, as said, was the privatizers dream and they were successful. Now, with this ‘win’ behind them Lumina and friends will work quickly to repeat this performance around the nation.
Meanwhile, close to one hundred thousand students and thousands of faculty and staff will see their lives ruined. The cacophony of privatization will proceed. The mirrored labyrinth of lies and perfidy will increase. New rounds of private enclosures of the public commons will be underway. The abuse of the rule of law in favor of the one percent is certain. The patrons of hierarchy and privilege will continue to work for their corporate masters and receive a hefty payment for doing their work. The ‘juice loan’ racket of student loans for useless credentials will go unimpeded, and the wealthy denizens of power will continue to trade on Wall Street at record highs.
The consequences of losing accreditation for CCSF and for the nation are more than toxic – they are criminal. Corrosive corporate values now underlie Obama’s 20/20 plan for higher education or the new Race to the Top. Without a militant in-your-face organized working class the death of the public commons, the rise of inequality, the decimation of the labor movement, the roll-back of the New Deal, the overthrow of the Civil rights movement are all guaranteed. This all harkens back to the American Civil War. All of this is the chump change Obama promises and that which you cannot afford to believe in.
In the last part of this series, part five we will look at Silicon Valley’s (a sunny place for shady people) plans for the development of massive open online classes (MOOCs) to replace teachers and learning. We will also look at the various testing centers and venture capitalists that will profit by Lumina and friend’s work on their behalf. Finally, we will examine the new federal regulations being promulgated that will take regulatory functions from states and centralize them in the corporate Department of Education.
To see part one of this series you can go to: http://www.dailycensored.com/the-obama-2020-plan-for-education-chump-change-you-cant-believe-in/
To see part two of this series you can go to: http://www.dailycensored.com/part-two-the-obama-2020-plan-for-higher-education-chump-change-you-cant-believe-in/
To see part three of this series you can go to: http://www.dailycensored.com/obamas-2020-plan-for-higher-education-the-lumina-foundation-and-the-new-21st-century-social-darwin-movement/