Difference between revisions of "Attack on City College SF"

m (Unprotected "Attack on City College SF")
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'''CCSF is Our College: This Attack Goes Against Our History and Any Meaningful Sustainable Solution for San Francisco'''  
 
'''CCSF is Our College: This Attack Goes Against Our History and Any Meaningful Sustainable Solution for San Francisco'''  
  
The times they are a changing...The assessment of City College of San Francisco's accreditation and threat of possible closure in July 2014 came as an unexpected, unwarranted attack on the San Francisco community, recently, when the ACCJC marched in and took over. It's still having gross repercussions, while students, faculty and staff struggle to hold on to what they hold dear.  
+
The times they are a changing. The assessment of City College of San Francisco's accreditation and threat of possible closure in July 2014 came as an unexpected, unwarranted attack on the San Francisco community when the ACCJC marched in and took over. It's still having gross repercussions, while students, faculty and staff struggle to hold on to what they hold dear.  
  
To many here, CCSF exemplifies the best of this part of the world: a diverse, educated, inclusive, intellectual and progressive population. How is it possible, then, that CCSF got behind on standards when the school's education is widely valued? What might closure do to the city's exceptional multicultural and educated workforce? How has the College fought back? Moreover, what is the responsibility of Californian cities to lower income and minority residents with respect to affordable, accessible higher education?  
+
To many here, CCSF exemplifies the best of this part of the world: a diverse, educated, inclusive, intellectual and progressive population. How is it possible, then, that CCSF got behind on standards when the school's education is widely valued? What might closure do to the city's exceptional multicultural and educated workforce? How has the College fought back? Moreover, what is the responsibility of Californian cities to lower income and minority residents with respect to higher education?  
  
 
The 2008 State budget cuts affected California's UC system, state and community colleges through reduced enrollment and loss of services. They took a toll upon CCSF as well. The pressure on the school to change its ways or lose accreditation is yet another set back to our State's higher educational system.  
 
The 2008 State budget cuts affected California's UC system, state and community colleges through reduced enrollment and loss of services. They took a toll upon CCSF as well. The pressure on the school to change its ways or lose accreditation is yet another set back to our State's higher educational system.  
  
A small, notoriously democratic institution, City College SF, approximately 85,000 now currently enrolled, has worked tirelessly for years delivering quality education and certification to thousands of students. Many in the student body are under-served, newcomer, transitional, or older adult residents including veterans, seniors, low-income women, undocumented workers and newly arrived immigrants.  
+
A notoriously democratic institution of approximately 85,000 students now currently enrolled, CCSF has worked tirelessly for years delivering quality education and certification to thousands of students. Many in the student body are under-served, newcomer, transitional, or older adult residents including indigenous, veterans, seniors, low-income women, undocumented workers and newly arrived immigrant populations.  
  
 
CCSF has also been a robust employer, paying its faculty some of the highest salaries and benefits for public workers anywhere in the nation. The State's budget cuts have affected the CCSF experience despite efforts to preserve faculty salaries and many student services. Yet, even with the difficulties experienced at the hands of the State, CCSF is now being made to scramble to fulfill requirements set by the ACCJC, or risk closure.
 
CCSF has also been a robust employer, paying its faculty some of the highest salaries and benefits for public workers anywhere in the nation. The State's budget cuts have affected the CCSF experience despite efforts to preserve faculty salaries and many student services. Yet, even with the difficulties experienced at the hands of the State, CCSF is now being made to scramble to fulfill requirements set by the ACCJC, or risk closure.
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'''More Context'''   
 
'''More Context'''   
  
The ACCJC's judgments may have appeared rigorous to some due to mainstreem news. It may have seemed an assertive official effort to "clean up" a faltering and unworthy urban institution in times of economic uncertainty. But, it's easy these days to send morality plays through the news when "quality education" is being debated as hotly as it is. "Crisis" makes for dramatic reading. More astute thinking, however, cannot separate one act of large-scale political indifference from another. These are divisive times politically, in the US. From the Tea Party forcing government shutdown to the plethora of evictions and foreclosures plaguing citizens' housing, one must read the swashbuckling neo-liberal moves to destabilize land, cities, economies,and communities as having politically divisive and conservative ''similarities.''  
+
The ACCJC's judgments may have appeared rigorous to some due to mainstreem news. It may have seemed an assertive official effort to "clean up" a faltering and unworthy urban institution in times of economic uncertainty. But, it's easy these days to send morality plays through the news when "quality education" is being debated as hotly as it is. "Crisis" makes for dramatic reading. More astute thinking, however, cannot separate one act of large-scale political indifference from another. These are divisive times politically in the US. From the Tea Party forcing government shutdown to the plethora of evictions and foreclosures plaguing citizens' housing, one must read the swashbuckling neo-liberal moves to destabilize land, cities, economies,and communities as having politically divisive and conservative ''similarities.''  
  
 
Because of its scale and history, the attack on CCSF comes as one more in a recent spate of moves targeting minority and lower-income citizens: the Supreme Court's decision on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Trayvon Martin verdict, the Tea Party's blockade of Obamacare, corporate and right-wing political efforts to push in "states' rights", and the secret, nighttime addition (by Republicans) of limitations to birth control, a clear-cut effort to curtail womens' reproductive liberty.  
 
Because of its scale and history, the attack on CCSF comes as one more in a recent spate of moves targeting minority and lower-income citizens: the Supreme Court's decision on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Trayvon Martin verdict, the Tea Party's blockade of Obamacare, corporate and right-wing political efforts to push in "states' rights", and the secret, nighttime addition (by Republicans) of limitations to birth control, a clear-cut effort to curtail womens' reproductive liberty.  
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'''Laying Blame and Taking Action'''
 
'''Laying Blame and Taking Action'''
  
Interests behind frequently clandestine initiatives, like those used to discredit and restructure CCSF, must be profoundly resisted. Their work undermines the foundations of progress towards a more open, more democratic civil society; above all our capacity for free thought and the right to self-representation of populations.
+
Interests behind frequently clandestine initiatives, like those used to discredit and restructure CCSF, must be profoundly resisted. Their work undermines progress towards a open, democratic civil society; above all our capacity for free thought and the right to self-representation of populations.
  
 
In a singularly well-worded lawsuit, City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera's  office has proceeded against the ACCJC for “using the accreditation process to squelch debate with respect to education reform in Sacramento”.(LA Times,2013) Their move sheds light upon the agency's agenda for including CCSF in its already overly-punitive track record of punishing California's community colleges. This commendable insight into the political practices of the ACCJC across the state comes as some welcome relief to an else-wise silent or "on side" City Hall.   
 
In a singularly well-worded lawsuit, City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera's  office has proceeded against the ACCJC for “using the accreditation process to squelch debate with respect to education reform in Sacramento”.(LA Times,2013) Their move sheds light upon the agency's agenda for including CCSF in its already overly-punitive track record of punishing California's community colleges. This commendable insight into the political practices of the ACCJC across the state comes as some welcome relief to an else-wise silent or "on side" City Hall.   
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Starting from the top is the Supreme Court's decision to take down important parts of the 1965 Voters' Rights Act on the thinly laid argument that the racial discrimination leading to this seminal legislation no longer exists. To be clear, the Voter's Rights Act is a piece of Law, put into place to protect minorities from discrimination, and the Civil Rights movement was not some passing delusion. Just as Roe v. Wade is a piece of Law that enables women to gain the right of privacy over their own bodies, this law is a cornerstone for the protection of civil liberties for voters of color and those who are low-income, yet within hours of the Court's decision, notoriously racially-divided states, such as Texas, set about re-zoning voting districts, drawing boundaries which would affect voter turnout in future elections. It is an historic fact and feature of his election that President Obama won states where voter turn out for minority and low-income populations was especially high.   
 
Starting from the top is the Supreme Court's decision to take down important parts of the 1965 Voters' Rights Act on the thinly laid argument that the racial discrimination leading to this seminal legislation no longer exists. To be clear, the Voter's Rights Act is a piece of Law, put into place to protect minorities from discrimination, and the Civil Rights movement was not some passing delusion. Just as Roe v. Wade is a piece of Law that enables women to gain the right of privacy over their own bodies, this law is a cornerstone for the protection of civil liberties for voters of color and those who are low-income, yet within hours of the Court's decision, notoriously racially-divided states, such as Texas, set about re-zoning voting districts, drawing boundaries which would affect voter turnout in future elections. It is an historic fact and feature of his election that President Obama won states where voter turn out for minority and low-income populations was especially high.   
  
Then comes the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin shooting which has also sent its disturbing message ricocheting across the nation. Fatal wounding of young people of color by those armed and sanctioned to use weapons is being legally protected by the judicial system. In my humble opinion, this constitutes another link in a chain of highly-conservative backlashes towards people of color being glossed over by such ideals as the  “Martinizing” of the Obama presidency with its highly publicized marches on Washington in honor of King. As Smiley and West have pointed out, sentimentality towards Martin Luther King does little but put frosting on a situation which King himself would have regarded as abhorrent and which cannot be condoned ---that is the trading of civil rights laws for ineffectual "feel good" histories as easily forgotten as they are enjoyed. President Obama, while he may be an advocate for affordable health care is no Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King was a pacifist, deeply against the Vietnam War, and an activist in that capacity.
+
Then comes the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin shooting which has also sent its disturbing message ricocheting across the nation. Fatal wounding of young people of color by those armed and sanctioned to use weapons is being legally protected by the judicial system. In my humble opinion, this constitutes another link in a chain of highly-conservative backlash towards people of color being glossed over by such ideals as the  “Martinizing” of the Obama presidency with its highly publicized marches on Washington in honor of King. As Smiley and West have pointed out, sentimentality towards Martin Luther King does little but put frosting on a situation which King himself would have regarded as abhorrent and which cannot be condoned ---that is the trading of civil rights laws for ineffectual "feel good" histories as easily forgotten as they are enjoyed. President Obama, while he may be an advocate for affordable health care is no Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King was a pacifist, deeply against the Vietnam War, and an activist in that capacity.
  
 
What is real, however, in all of this posturing and backdoor activity, is the shape-shifting of top courts and justices, legal maneuveurs tantamount to legislating inequality, creating new laws around activism, the closing of borders, and the de-waging and under valuation of low-income citizens. Where does growing inequality best take root? In attacks on the cultural ideal of accessible, affordable education for all citizens. It is here that populations stand to lose the most ground in the future in terms of their own self-betterment, growth, prosperity and identity.  
 
What is real, however, in all of this posturing and backdoor activity, is the shape-shifting of top courts and justices, legal maneuveurs tantamount to legislating inequality, creating new laws around activism, the closing of borders, and the de-waging and under valuation of low-income citizens. Where does growing inequality best take root? In attacks on the cultural ideal of accessible, affordable education for all citizens. It is here that populations stand to lose the most ground in the future in terms of their own self-betterment, growth, prosperity and identity.  
Line 92: Line 92:
 
Beleagurement of the other, the poor, the ethnic minority is a pernicious outcome of  chauvanistic ruling power. It is observed in the widespread modeling and adoption of “Stop and Frisk” police methods in New York and Oakland, in the problem of Oscar Grant's shooting death going all but excused, and of “inner city” hatred emerging as far back as the Nixon and Reagan administrations when many urban policing laws were put in place and more disenfranchised people started living in the street.  
 
Beleagurement of the other, the poor, the ethnic minority is a pernicious outcome of  chauvanistic ruling power. It is observed in the widespread modeling and adoption of “Stop and Frisk” police methods in New York and Oakland, in the problem of Oscar Grant's shooting death going all but excused, and of “inner city” hatred emerging as far back as the Nixon and Reagan administrations when many urban policing laws were put in place and more disenfranchised people started living in the street.  
  
If you are a person of color and poor, today — even with a half Black president — you can be screwed out of your vote, stopped and frisked without a warrant, and are just about as likely in 2013 to be the target of police brutality or "acceptable levels" of violence from someone wearing a badge, who will then be pardoned for shooting you, than you have been before.
+
If you are a person of color and poor, today — even with a half Black president — you can be screwed out of your vote, stopped and frisked without a warrant, and are as likely in 2013 to be the target of police brutality or "acceptable levels" of violence from someone wearing a badge than you ever have been before.
  
 
Unfortunately, to my mind, the destruction of CCSF due to a financial explanation and showing little faith in its sustained purpose or public good, is a heartless account fitting right into the current, reactionary cycle of governmental shutdown/control and domination. Most importantly, the attack is a disavowal of the importance of political difference, as Herrera's lawsuit amplifies, of multiple cultures and expressions of culture which make San Francisco and the US, great. It is nearly tantamount, instead, to an act of blind, cultural warfare supported through the justifications of power in a manner similar to that described by Hardt and Negri as the growth of "just wars" under empire.  
 
Unfortunately, to my mind, the destruction of CCSF due to a financial explanation and showing little faith in its sustained purpose or public good, is a heartless account fitting right into the current, reactionary cycle of governmental shutdown/control and domination. Most importantly, the attack is a disavowal of the importance of political difference, as Herrera's lawsuit amplifies, of multiple cultures and expressions of culture which make San Francisco and the US, great. It is nearly tantamount, instead, to an act of blind, cultural warfare supported through the justifications of power in a manner similar to that described by Hardt and Negri as the growth of "just wars" under empire.  
Line 104: Line 104:
 
'''Sustainable Urbanism not Gentrification'''
 
'''Sustainable Urbanism not Gentrification'''
  
In the modern history of the United States, the quality of life, and open, free-wheeling civic participation of community in city politics have been progressive values embodied by the city of San Francisco. Residents here, after all, helped to build a radical movement against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, against the invasion of the Gulf in the nineties and Iraq in the 2000s. We have been the first to implement many critical chapters in the history of womens' rights, gay rights, and AIDS research. Occupy SF was a vibrant and challenging chapter in the city's recent political history. Part of this progressive tradition has been the building of CCSF as a deeply engaged institution and the providing of quality low-cost higher education to the lumpen mass without student loan debt.  
+
In the modern history of the United States, the quality of life, and open, free-wheeling civic participation of community in city politics have been progressive values embodied by the city of San Francisco. Residents here, after all, helped to build a radical movement against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, against the invasion of the Gulf in the nineties and Iraq in the 2000s. We have been the first to implement many critical chapters in the history of womens' rights, gay rights, and AIDS research. Occupy SF was a vibrant and challenging chapter in the city's recent political history. Part of this progressive tradition has been the building of CCSF as a deeply engaged institution providing quality low-cost higher education to the lumpen mass without student loan debt.  
  
 
[[Image:CC mural.JPG]]
 
[[Image:CC mural.JPG]]

Revision as of 23:51, 12 October 2013

Historical Essay

by Molly Hankwitz, September 24, 2013

CCSF mission campus.JPG

A beautiful mosaic of the Aztec calendar greets those entering the City College Mission Campus

Photo: Molly Hankwitz


CCSF is Our College: This Attack Goes Against Our History and Any Meaningful Sustainable Solution for San Francisco

The times they are a changing. The assessment of City College of San Francisco's accreditation and threat of possible closure in July 2014 came as an unexpected, unwarranted attack on the San Francisco community when the ACCJC marched in and took over. It's still having gross repercussions, while students, faculty and staff struggle to hold on to what they hold dear.

To many here, CCSF exemplifies the best of this part of the world: a diverse, educated, inclusive, intellectual and progressive population. How is it possible, then, that CCSF got behind on standards when the school's education is widely valued? What might closure do to the city's exceptional multicultural and educated workforce? How has the College fought back? Moreover, what is the responsibility of Californian cities to lower income and minority residents with respect to higher education?

The 2008 State budget cuts affected California's UC system, state and community colleges through reduced enrollment and loss of services. They took a toll upon CCSF as well. The pressure on the school to change its ways or lose accreditation is yet another set back to our State's higher educational system.

A notoriously democratic institution of approximately 85,000 students now currently enrolled, CCSF has worked tirelessly for years delivering quality education and certification to thousands of students. Many in the student body are under-served, newcomer, transitional, or older adult residents including indigenous, veterans, seniors, low-income women, undocumented workers and newly arrived immigrant populations.

CCSF has also been a robust employer, paying its faculty some of the highest salaries and benefits for public workers anywhere in the nation. The State's budget cuts have affected the CCSF experience despite efforts to preserve faculty salaries and many student services. Yet, even with the difficulties experienced at the hands of the State, CCSF is now being made to scramble to fulfill requirements set by the ACCJC, or risk closure.


More Context

The ACCJC's judgments may have appeared rigorous to some due to mainstreem news. It may have seemed an assertive official effort to "clean up" a faltering and unworthy urban institution in times of economic uncertainty. But, it's easy these days to send morality plays through the news when "quality education" is being debated as hotly as it is. "Crisis" makes for dramatic reading. More astute thinking, however, cannot separate one act of large-scale political indifference from another. These are divisive times politically in the US. From the Tea Party forcing government shutdown to the plethora of evictions and foreclosures plaguing citizens' housing, one must read the swashbuckling neo-liberal moves to destabilize land, cities, economies,and communities as having politically divisive and conservative similarities.

Because of its scale and history, the attack on CCSF comes as one more in a recent spate of moves targeting minority and lower-income citizens: the Supreme Court's decision on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Trayvon Martin verdict, the Tea Party's blockade of Obamacare, corporate and right-wing political efforts to push in "states' rights", and the secret, nighttime addition (by Republicans) of limitations to birth control, a clear-cut effort to curtail womens' reproductive liberty.

Indeed, globally speaking, entire governments of poorer countries have been strangled by destabilization. Economies have fallen and state "austerity" measures have been enforced, frequently through censorship, violence, and heavily militarized police action. Privatization of public assets, the pervasive argument that there is no money without corporate management, has proven extremely successful when in league with a media convincing the public that assets should be privately managed and controlled. We see this in arguments for undermining K-12 public education, parks and recreation facilities; public transportation. It started with Bush's infamous "bail out" transaction utilizing our tax-payer funded US Treasury for its till.


Laying Blame and Taking Action

Interests behind frequently clandestine initiatives, like those used to discredit and restructure CCSF, must be profoundly resisted. Their work undermines progress towards a open, democratic civil society; above all our capacity for free thought and the right to self-representation of populations.

In a singularly well-worded lawsuit, City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera's office has proceeded against the ACCJC for “using the accreditation process to squelch debate with respect to education reform in Sacramento”.(LA Times,2013) Their move sheds light upon the agency's agenda for including CCSF in its already overly-punitive track record of punishing California's community colleges. This commendable insight into the political practices of the ACCJC across the state comes as some welcome relief to an else-wise silent or "on side" City Hall.


Resistance, Protest, Student Speak Outs: The Community Rallies Back

Efforts to sustain CCSF in the face of the attack are, of course, taking place. (See links below.) The community has been working to keep CCSF open despite the imposition of the ACCJC's criticism and deadline. Decline in enrollments means continued loss of funding from the State which would eventually choke CCSF. Loss of accreditation will only make that situation worse. This is why the trajectory of the ACCJC's attack is punitive. Their approach is counter-productive to a school already beleagured by State budget cuts! The State's entire budget and its challenges have little to do with CCSF except that CCSF needs money to continue to run. Thus the school, instead of being enabled, is being pushed further down. Instead of being supported to succeed by the ACCJC, it is being undermined. The San Francisco Chronicle has continuously published on the official story, highlighting the one Trustee now appointed, not elected, to dictate all decision-making at the school. CCSF has been held unduly responsible for the State's budget, and the linear, punitive methodologies and "interests" of the ACCJC.


Questions and Motivations

Why destroy the city's largest provider of workforce education? Why shutdown the US government through tactics of defunding so as to avoid giving Obama his due in implementing federally subsidized and affordable health insurance? Herrera's law suit alleges that “the panel is biased against the college and its advocates because of differing agendas.” The openness to political difference and the diversity of the city's culture lies in specific contrast to, and may be in direct conflict with, the ideas of those wanting to close CCSF down. Thus the attack on CCSF reads as one more act of sabotage in a long history of "fall out" from State and national greed and corruption; years of racist, classist response, the passing over of voters and tax-payers for CEOs, and the work of a minority of powerful "aristocratic" pundits actively out to destroy civil society and sieze our assets.


CC is now open sign.JPG

Keeping the doors open!

Photo: Molly Hankwitz


Efforts to Kill Morale

Let's name the ways in which the attack on CCSF has played out across the community. In the mainstream press steeped in neo-liberal capitalist "speak", CCSF has been assailed as fiscally irresponsible, failing to maintain appropriate standards, with the strong implication that the school is behind the times in its aims. This argument is transparent. This is an "old and new" argument, preparing for a future of "real" change, as it were, which will be managed and created to be up to date, as if there were no mitigating circumstance or community voice to be heard. The San Francisco Bay Guardian, reliably left wing, published an editorial, however, on how elements of Obama administration rhetoric are to blame for much of this pushing and maneuvering around education at state and national levels. (Bay Guardian editorial, 2013)

Measures from the faceless regime-enforcing new management to disrupt CCSF have been extensive. Faculty have received eleven percent pay cuts, a measure supposedly to have been prevented by Prop. A, which San Franciscan voters wholeheartedly supported. Long term teachers have received reduced course loads, their classes renamed and syllabi handed over to younger colleagues with the excuse that any attrition rates were their fault. These are contract-breaking tactics which hold faculty responsible for management's foibles and whims.

In truth, enrollment has been declining since the 2008 State budget cuts and since the ACCJC pronouncements. It is surely not the fault of the extremely high quality faculty or a school under pressure to prevent its own closure and everyone losing their jobs!


More Confusion and Undermining

The threat of this closure has, in short, felt like a gangster heist; an out and out robbery of our public good. Ultimately, it's an issue of self-representation and community v. "top down" distanced management with an undisclosed, yet painful and harmful agenda. When locks were suddenly changed in classroom buildings without notifying those using them, the message was clear. New keys had to be requested by a workforce which had come and gone freely for years. In one case a native plant garden, carefully tended by a Native American gardener, was ordered removed and replaced with less overtly cultural landscaping. To add to that, the disappearance of departmental chairs, faculty pay cuts, “downsizing“ of student services, and commercialization of the bookstore all happened so quickly, that there has been little, if any time, to respond. It has been as if the school is slated for demolition by an outside force. Visions of the newer campuses falling silent have continued to haunt a public familiar with San Francisco land grabs and rapid gentrification. CCSF campuses, with their huge building footprints, expanses of lawn, playing fields, parking lots, and the brand new multi million dollar architecture must seem tasty morsels where the matter of history, in lieu of profit, does not matter. In many neighborhoods, the monthly squeezing out local families and shops, tends to suggest this mentality already doing its destruction. Thus, the neo-liberal attack on CCSF is a strong message to San Francisco's organic, counter-cultural, lower income and minority milieu; a deliberate effort to undermine the coherence of our community.

Where is any official assessment that would sustain CCSF on the grounds that all residents deserve affordable educational opportunities and that CCSF has been remarkably well organzed and beneficial to the city over time?

CCSF is not only important to San Francisco but to the Bay Area. Radio talk shows about CCSF's accreditation have had callers angry over the effects upon community. One ESL teacher from the East Bay ended her rant about the war on minority students with, ”Oakland has no more adult public higher education.”


Civil Rights Backlash and Educational Inequity are a National Issue

Recently, national events in Washington, Florida and elsewhere have targeted the public sector, particularly, people of color and the poor. The New York Times reports that 1 in 5 children live in poverty in the United States. (NY Times, 10/1/2013) Income discrepencies show people of color significantly poorer and more unemployed overall than similarly aged white people; approximately 50% of people of color, both African American and Latino, to a mere nine percent of whites. These numbers lend background texture to the climate of deprivation surrounding dis-accreditation and threat of closure at CCSF, a school which has been notorious for helping thousands of low-income people and minority students gain significant ground in academia, job placement and career certification. Where will these students go and what will their future prospects be in a system which is currently oppressing them further? This smells like the conservative attack on affirmative action of the 90s, only this time the tactic is to bleed our important institutions dry or out rule us altogether.


Starting from the top is the Supreme Court's decision to take down important parts of the 1965 Voters' Rights Act on the thinly laid argument that the racial discrimination leading to this seminal legislation no longer exists. To be clear, the Voter's Rights Act is a piece of Law, put into place to protect minorities from discrimination, and the Civil Rights movement was not some passing delusion. Just as Roe v. Wade is a piece of Law that enables women to gain the right of privacy over their own bodies, this law is a cornerstone for the protection of civil liberties for voters of color and those who are low-income, yet within hours of the Court's decision, notoriously racially-divided states, such as Texas, set about re-zoning voting districts, drawing boundaries which would affect voter turnout in future elections. It is an historic fact and feature of his election that President Obama won states where voter turn out for minority and low-income populations was especially high.

Then comes the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin shooting which has also sent its disturbing message ricocheting across the nation. Fatal wounding of young people of color by those armed and sanctioned to use weapons is being legally protected by the judicial system. In my humble opinion, this constitutes another link in a chain of highly-conservative backlash towards people of color being glossed over by such ideals as the “Martinizing” of the Obama presidency with its highly publicized marches on Washington in honor of King. As Smiley and West have pointed out, sentimentality towards Martin Luther King does little but put frosting on a situation which King himself would have regarded as abhorrent and which cannot be condoned ---that is the trading of civil rights laws for ineffectual "feel good" histories as easily forgotten as they are enjoyed. President Obama, while he may be an advocate for affordable health care is no Martin Luther King. Martin Luther King was a pacifist, deeply against the Vietnam War, and an activist in that capacity.

What is real, however, in all of this posturing and backdoor activity, is the shape-shifting of top courts and justices, legal maneuveurs tantamount to legislating inequality, creating new laws around activism, the closing of borders, and the de-waging and under valuation of low-income citizens. Where does growing inequality best take root? In attacks on the cultural ideal of accessible, affordable education for all citizens. It is here that populations stand to lose the most ground in the future in terms of their own self-betterment, growth, prosperity and identity.


The Toll

Beleagurement of the other, the poor, the ethnic minority is a pernicious outcome of chauvanistic ruling power. It is observed in the widespread modeling and adoption of “Stop and Frisk” police methods in New York and Oakland, in the problem of Oscar Grant's shooting death going all but excused, and of “inner city” hatred emerging as far back as the Nixon and Reagan administrations when many urban policing laws were put in place and more disenfranchised people started living in the street.

If you are a person of color and poor, today — even with a half Black president — you can be screwed out of your vote, stopped and frisked without a warrant, and are as likely in 2013 to be the target of police brutality or "acceptable levels" of violence from someone wearing a badge than you ever have been before.

Unfortunately, to my mind, the destruction of CCSF due to a financial explanation and showing little faith in its sustained purpose or public good, is a heartless account fitting right into the current, reactionary cycle of governmental shutdown/control and domination. Most importantly, the attack is a disavowal of the importance of political difference, as Herrera's lawsuit amplifies, of multiple cultures and expressions of culture which make San Francisco and the US, great. It is nearly tantamount, instead, to an act of blind, cultural warfare supported through the justifications of power in a manner similar to that described by Hardt and Negri as the growth of "just wars" under empire.


DOE

In 2009, the Department of Education swept the country with educational imperatives in hand. They held multiple public meetings on minority education in public and charter schools in numerous states including our own at the Main Library in Civic Center. In the Bay Area, attendees, including myself, heard from young Oakland activists of color about the state of Oakland's schools, which when moved from being public to Charter status under the DOE's plans for educational reform, frequently became more whitened and were no longer seen as serving or belonging to minority populations. The activists cited in particular the American Indian Middle School, which “went charter” and lost its community character. Actions such as the people's sit-in at Lakeview Elementary in Oakland 2012, underscore further, the degree of struggle being undertaken to protect public schools from outside "takeover". This is in the context, too, of neighborhoods being gentrified and of the extensive publicity of crime rates and participation in crime from Oakland's black youth. At the same time, it is very important to respond to the fact that if it had not been for the African American press, the Oscar Grant story would probably have disappeared altogether.


Sustainable Urbanism not Gentrification

In the modern history of the United States, the quality of life, and open, free-wheeling civic participation of community in city politics have been progressive values embodied by the city of San Francisco. Residents here, after all, helped to build a radical movement against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, against the invasion of the Gulf in the nineties and Iraq in the 2000s. We have been the first to implement many critical chapters in the history of womens' rights, gay rights, and AIDS research. Occupy SF was a vibrant and challenging chapter in the city's recent political history. Part of this progressive tradition has been the building of CCSF as a deeply engaged institution providing quality low-cost higher education to the lumpen mass without student loan debt.

CC mural.JPG

Copernicus and the Aztecs as inspiration. Muralist: Emanuel Paniagua

Photo: Molly Hankwitz

Regardless of faults one may have individually found with City College SF, or one's need for "change", the point here is to lay bare the consistency of neo-liberal attack strategies, the connection between depriving populations of public assets and other forms of oppression now emerging in the national political landscape, and, above all, to point out the pointlessness of destroying something which has proved to be an effective resource and beneficial to the city's residents, when, with a little forethought and governance, this could be prevented.

All citizens deserve the right to affordable higher education! What the responsibility of California's cities will be to their populations regarding this issue in the future, remains to be seen, but,until then, CCSF should be preserved as the amazing institution it is. It needs to be saved. It needs our support. It is our College. It is our city.


The author wishes to thank Richard Baum for his camaraderie and factual assistance, and Walter Alter for his correspondence and research. She is the initiator of The City College of San Francisco Community History Project (continually being added to Found SF) and seeks to collect stories, photographs, and details about CCSF from the community of San Francisco. She is working on a video installation about City College and urban education for the masses for ATA's window gallery on Valencia Street.

For more information, please contact: mollyhankwitz [at] gmail [dot] com


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