"Who really makes public policy?" asks Chris Jackson, who up until last week had been a member of the Board of Trustees of the City College of San Francisco. "Is it the public board or is it the privately run and funded accrediting commission?" Just before Thanksgiving, Jackson, who was first elected to the board in 2008 resigned from his elected position, which had been powerless since the state appointed a Special Trustee, Robert Agrella, to manage the beleaguered institution.
Jackson says that the last straw for him came when the term of the Special Trustee without what he calls an "exit strategy." Jackson says, "it leaves San Francisco taxpayers with an unelected person controlled by an unelected body making decisions with public resources."
The fate of City College is still uncertain. City Attorney Dennis Herrera is currently pursuing a court case to block the revocation of accreditation, while simultaneously the Special Trustee carries out reforms that the ACCJC will support.
Though Jackson concedes that CCSF faced administrative issues, he likens the withdrawal of accreditation to "fighting a cold with a sledgehammer to the head." Jackson disagrees with the push to move CCSF to focus solely on degree-seeking students. "I always wanted to protect GED and non-degree classes," he says. At heart, he says, the problems at CCSF had to do with revenues—not the administration. "We lost a quarter of our budget over three years," he says. "We've lost thousands of students. This is not a sustainable college."
Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully for District 10 Supervisor, losing to Malia Cohen in 2010, says that he may soon head to law school. "I was glad to serve, to give a voice to the underserved," he says. "But it was my time."