Cuesta College accreditation in jeopardy

February 21, 2008


Cuesta College administrators said this week the institution faces the threat of finding itself without accreditation.

The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), located in Novato, has issued a warning to Cuesta College to heed its recommendations or risk losing accreditation.

Accreditation is an established process for evaluation and quality assurance for education used by the American higher education community, according to the ACCJC’s Website. If accreditation were to be revoked, course credits would no longer be transferable to other colleges and universities, and students would be unable to collect financial aid.

ACCJC provides regional accreditation, which it describes as “the most highly regarded form of institutional accreditation, and that sought by most academic institutions with comprehensive missions.”

“We are concerned with our students being able to transfer and obviously accreditation is important for image,” said Cuesta College Interim Vice President of Student Learning Toni Sommer. “We can operate without accreditation. We probably don’t want to.”

Forewarned in 2002 that issues regarding program reviews and unit-planning processes could result in the loss of the college’s accreditation, Cuesta College officials admit they fell short in properly addressing the commission’s recommendations.

“We thought the problems were fixed, but they wanted it even tighter so we tightened it up again,” Sommer said. “We were approved by the visitation team. It was the Commission that put us on warning. So we were a little surprised when the letter came.”

According to the Commission’s Web site, a warning was issued on the basis of a progress report and a November 6, 2007 on-site visit.

“I also wish to inform you that under the U.S. Department of Education regulations, institutions out of compliance with standards or on sanction are expected to correct deficiencies within a two-year period or the Commission must take action to terminate accreditation,” according to a letter from the Commission to Cuesta College on January 31, 2008.

The Commission’s letter also voices concerns regarding staffing issues at Cuesta College.

“The team noted that out of ten senior administrative positions, six were interim, one was vacant, and that the interim president was also serving as interim vice president for student learning,” according to the Commission’s letter.

The Commission asked Cuesta College to “correct the deficiencies noted” and to follow up with a progress report by March 15, 2008.

“Cuesta College’s Planning and Budget Committee is working on the issues. The issues are fixed and there are plans in the works to have all position permanent by June,” Sommer said.

“Basically, we have gone through two writes and reviewed issues and made a draft letter that goes to the faculty senate on January 29, and then to the board meeting on March 5,” Sommer added. “We will send it on to the Commission on March 6.”

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Member Opinions:

By: Anonymous on 3/17/08

Only in education does the best teacher make the same as the worst! Teachers unions (wow! what an oximoron!) have ruined American education at every level.

Give vouchers a try. We all know they will work and the parents and kids win and a few slugs get tossed to the curb! So be it!

By: Anonymous on 3/10/08

Why not give vouchers a try? Public education at every level has failed now for decades. What are you all afraid of? It's not about your jiobs it's about educating our children.

I say let's gives the parents some options, and see what happens in 5-10 years. It's my belief that public schools will get better in this process…and some lousy reachers sent packing! We need a change and fast!

By: Anonymous on 2/28/08

Here is some neat info.

2007 CEO Compensation Study

August 1, 2007

The top leaders of the 5,2421 largest charities in America earn an average salary of $145,2702. This represents a modest pay raise of 2.34% over the previous year studied. All together, their salaries add up to over $730 million. Although this is a considerable amount of money, CEO compensation accounts for just 3.37% of the average organization's spending.

So, with Cuesta spending $50,000,000 per year, part of the private sector would seem to suggest the next president of Cuesta JUST be paid $1,685,000 per year. I wonder if Dr. Pelham knows how badly he is being underpaid?

By: Anonymous on 2/28/08

On what do you base your belief that the private sector can provide better education at a lower cost than the public sector?

Here are some numbers for you to chew on.

Annual budget for Cuesta = $50,000,000. Number of fulltime equivalent students = 10,000. Cost per student per year = $5,000.

LMU tuition $31,168.00 this year.

Wow! The private sector can provide the first two years of college education for more than SIX TIMES the price of public education.

Apples to oranges you say? Funding per fulltime student across the CSU system is $9,967 per year. The public sector provides a very similar education for one-third the cost of the private sector.

By the way, who do you think makes more per year, the president of LMU or the president of Cal Poly? Or, back to Cuesta, what would you guess the president of a private sector company with an annual budget of $50,000,000 per year makes? Also, the college buyouts of the upper management contracts pales in comparison to recent golden handshakes in the private sector. Here is one example I found after a one-minute search on google:

Fired Home Depot CEO’s astonishing ‘golden handshake’

Runaway CEO compensation and widespread funny business with stock options were two of the most compelling business stories of 2006.

It wasn’t hard for ordinary wage earners to get the idea that the rules of conduct are different – or non-existent – for those at the top of the corporate food chain.

Robert Nardelli’s jaw-dropping, $210 million “golden handshake” for leaving Home Depot this week only confirms that impression.

By: Anonymous on 2/28/08

It is clear by the statements below that this person feeds off the public tax trough and has not one clue as to how the real world works.

These are the types of folks that have and are ruining our education system. They need to flushed out from hiding under their desks and given a basic course in civics then kicked in the ass to perform better or be gone!

By: Anonymous on 2/27/08

Privatize Education? Definitely!! There is no easier way to rip off the public than to privatize education and other basic services. I've got a buddy that teaches at a private college in California and tuition at his college has been rising much faster than the inflation rate, much faster than faculty salaries, and faster than tuition at public colleges. Why? Because the market allows them to! There are fewer spaces at his college than applicants, so market forces demand that prices go up, simple economics. Where does the money go? Not to the average workers, and not to improve the students’ education. Instead the increased profit goes to the managers who institute the fee increases. Great idea, privatize a commodity like education. Hey, better yet, let’s privatize police and fire while we are at it. That way the police can shake down the people they are protecting and fire fighters can decide whose property to save by figuring who will pay them the most. Libertarians gotta love em for trying.

By: Anonymous on 2/27/08

"China sends their students to Berkeley so they can learn communism."

I love that. I am not sure I agree with or understand what he means, but I love the way he says it.

By: Anonymous on 2/27/08

Hey thankgd4theunion —

Maybe the Tribune "accepted" the Cuesta article but they haven't done squat so far, have they. Look at the article posted just this afternoon by V & B on this site. They beat the Tribune. Again!

By: Anonymous on 2/26/08

Yes. Let's privatize. I propose we ask the former execs from Enron, WorldCom, and Anderson to lead this effort. Well…those who have been released from prison.

By: Anonymous on 2/26/08

Typical lefty loon response! Anythjing the governmet touches turns to shit except the military!

If it weren't for private industry like Fed Ex and UPS you'd still be waitiung 7-10 days for mail.

Wake up! The governmet can no longer protect against incompetencies of a failed public education system.

ps: China sends their students to Berkeley so they can learn communism! You are so lost!

By: Anonymous on 2/25/08

California still has the best public college system in the world! People come from China, Russia, Europe and South America to attend Berkeley, Cal Poly and Cuesta because of the quality instruction. The system is just grossly underfunded at present and, in some cases such as Cuesta, the funds and human resources are grossly mismanaged. We have done much better in the past, and we can once again.

Privatization doesn't solve anything when it comes to education and health care–there is no evidence that privatization does anything but destroy quality and limit democratic access to education and health care. Just ask California nurses and doctors, or ask teachers who suffer under standardized testing and scripted learning programs.

By: Anonymous on 2/25/08

Dear Frustrated Faculty: The Tribune was offered this article and ACCEPTED it. There's actually been quite a lengthy investigation going on. Watch for 2 major upcoming articles on the union's struggle to maintain & protect the rights of faculty in the wake of the current Cuesta administration's repeated incompetence & the district's violations of labor law.

By: Anonymous on 2/25/08

ACCJC is not requiring that Cuesta spend more on administrators, just stabilize the administrative structure. Since Rosenwasser was fired, two of the three vice presidents were fired by the interim president and many other lower-level administrators quit or retired. Cuesta's new president starts March 3 and has a mess to clean up. The school needs to post the vice president positions ASAP.

As for non-union faculty having dues taken out of their paychecks, that is true. It's because of a California state law that requires employees in the bargaining unit to pay a fee (called an "agency fee") as a condition of employment. Before, the union represented employees in negotiations and with grievances who had not paid anything for the service. So it just depends on how you look at it.

By: Anonymous on 2/25/08

Adam Hill has an opinion on everything, and some experience in politico-academics. What is take on all this?

By: Anonymous on 2/24/08

As an educator and former professional, I agree that being forced to pay union dues is absurd. However the union is comprised of less than stellar individuals. Cuesta's faculty has dues taken from their paychecks whether they belong to the union or not. Moreover, administration woes are why its accreditation is in jeopardy–not because its students receive sub-par instruction. Don't let a few bad apples influence your opinions. Remember, the good educators barely have time to bicker and complain. They're too busy teaching!

By: Anonymous on 2/23/08

What can the community do?

By: Anonymous on 2/23/08

Thanks for breaking the story.

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

Privatize education! This tax-supported experiment has failed and we knew that decades ago. Time to let private industry light a fire under some lazy asses!

Our best universities are private…why not all education. Why can't parents choose? Because the tax trough feeding lazy educators will be on the corner selling hot dogs!

Are teachers professionals? If so why unionize? CPA’s don’t! Lawyers don’t! And the list goes on. Teachers are blue collar and we (the taxpayers) want “private sector professionals” that will take their jobs seriously! A true professional teacher would never unionize; it would be beneath them and an insult!

Enough is enough! It's our turn now.

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

NoExcuses – What does the Foundation have to do with accreditation? Don't forget, the board selected Dr. Rosenwasser after she was recommended by the selection committee – I wonder who that was? Stick to the subject. The administration was broken and now it's being addressed. This whole issue should not be blasted out of proportion. I'm sure the concerns of the commission are being addressed. You would be better to voice your personal attacks to "the loon" in person – if you have the courage.

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

I have heard rumors that the Tribune was offered this story and declined to pursue it. Thank God for this web site. Finally there is a forum for truth.

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

I have not read the full report, but my first take is that ACCJC is requiring Cuesta to spend more on administrators, which I cannot support in any education arena. Always the push should be to spend more on educators.

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

Good point below, most of Rosenwasser's administrative hires were disasters. Get rid of the people who hired her (some of the current Trustees).

By: Anonymous on 2/22/08

Time for the new president to come in and clean house. Fire anyone hired under Marie Rottweiller's administration, starting with the head of the Cuesta Foundation. What a loon!

By: Anonymous on 2/21/08

Teachers need to stop having sex with their students. Stop that and you stop the foundation of all the school ills.

By: Anonymous on 2/21/08

In the private sectors heads would roll and teachers told to knuckle under or hit the road.

Private industry is the only thing that can save California schools.

You may hate it, but it's true

By: Anonymous on 2/21/08

Yes, the upper administration at Cuesta is a mess, but the ACCJC gives warnings frequently while rarely revoking accreditation. Students still get a good education from the mostly excellent teachers. Our classes will transfer unless things really get much worse.