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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The future of City College

I'm sure the more progressive trustees at City College feel like they can't win: They held their noses "so tight," a Board President John Rizzo put it, and made a lot of changes they (and the community) didn't want, and still, the accrediting board wants to shut the place down.

That's what it means, of course: At then end of 2014, if this isn't reversed, City College won't be able to operate unless another institution takes it over. And for the next year, while the school can still operate, it will be very difficult to recruit new students.

Now a state trustee will take over (apparently with the full support of the mayor) -- but it's unclear if that person's mission will be to hold down the fort and prepare students to go somewhere else -- or to aggressively fight to overturn a very bad decision.

I say a very bad decision not because City College is perfect; there have been serious management problems in the past. But the accreditation report wasn't really about the key issue -- the value of the education the school provides. I once had a college professor who told me that teachers are what really matter: "We could hold the classes in quonset huts, and if the teachers are good enough, students would come and learn." And very little in the report suggested that the teaching quality was flawed.

And nobody can argue about the importance of this institution to the city.

So the next step for all of us is to fight to get the accreditation back, and the board has to lead the way. They tried doing what the accreditation panel wanted; now it's time to take back our college.

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