Despite a blog post last October, the return of my muse was exceedingly brief, and its absence has weighed on me. Why have I been unable to gather my energy to write? A hard teaching semester? Too much committee work? (I do so much less than others—oh! And guilt!). Family responsibilities? The BART strike? Hanging over all this is the “Death Row” status of City College of San Francisco; the school where I teach reading and writing is threatened with the loss of its accreditation in July 2014.
In order to teach, I do my best to ignore this context, which disrupts teaching and learning (challenging under normal circumstances). I recall the fashionable phrase from the Brits, “Remain Calm and Carry On,” but periodically I am reminded of how awful the situation is.
For example: the new “permanent Chancellor” makes a first public appearance early this month for his “Convocation,” giving a vaguely worded, badly amplified speech, and leaves before the “ceremony” is over to attend a meeting in Sacramento, presumably with someone who has real power. We do not know who is in charge anymore—do not know who is running the ship or where it is headed.
At a fall Flex Day event, a newly hired Dean (almost all of the previous ones have been fired) tells about a conversation with Barbara Beno, the head of the Accrediting Commission (known by its acronym ACCJC) when he worked at another local community college that was under a milder “Show Cause” sanction. She told him “We hated to do this to you guys, but you were so befuddled about your true state of affairs, we just had to hit you over the head with a two by four to make you wake up.” This is who we are dealing with! To continue with the martial metaphor, she must have thought that the point of ACCJC denying accreditation to City College was to throw a blanket over our heads and work us over with a baseball bat, either leaving us for dead or inducing pay rapt attention to her wisdom.
But my intention in this blog post was not to explain the City College drama, or comment on the growing political support for City College and criticism of the ACCJC (see my wonderful union’s website http://www.aft2121.org/ or http://www.saveccsf.org/ ) I merely want to say that I will no longer try to keep this blog’s focus on only on the pedagogy and politics of media-conscious teaching. I work inside of community college district that is in shock– on the brink of death or unpredictable disruption and tumult. This is where I live now. This is what I will write about, in addition to media-conscious teaching.
by Jeff Goldthorpe