27 California colleges face accreditation woes

Community colleges across California are facing accreditation sanctions “largely a result of the state cutting funding for several years as the federal government has stepped up performance standards,” reports AP. City College of San Francisco, College of the Redwoods in Eureka and Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo are one step from losing accreditation. Others are in earlier stages of the process. Here’s the full list.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, a division of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, has put 10 campuses on the midlevel “probation” status and another 14 on the low-level “warning” status. There are 112 community colleges in the state.

“The problems colleges have run into with accreditation are abnormally acute at this point in time in California,” said David Baime, a senior vice president with the American Association of Community Colleges.”The colleges in California have been subject to such savage budget reductions that it has placed institutions under a great deal of financial and administrative strain. I think that’s a big part of the issue for the colleges.”

.Colleges need accreditation to accept federal financial aid, offer courses with transferable credit, participate in league sports and award diplomas. Without accreditation, many schools would shut down for lack of students.

The federal government now requires colleges to show “learning outcomes” to earn accreditation, notes AP.  As expectations have gone up, state funding has declined by 12 percent in the last three years. It will fall another 7 percent if voters reject a tax increase on the November ballot.

California community colleges charge low fees compared to the rest of the nation, even with recent increases, and grant many fee waivers to low-income students. Completion rates are low.

Facing the threat of closure, City College of San Francisco has cut 700 classes to balance the budget, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.  The new mission statement will drop ”lifelong learning, life skills and cultural enrichment” from the college’s list of primary goals.