City College of San Francisco

Supervisor Mar Introduces City College Classes in the Sunset

By Meyer Gorelick

Using $150,000 of his discretionary budget, SF Supervisor Gordon Mar introduced City College Sunset in November, an offering of six courses that will serve seniors, high school students, early childhood educators and English language learners.

Two child-development classes, one English as a second language (ESL) class, and one older adult class will be held at Wah Mei School on Judah Street at 19th Avenue, while the two high school dual enrollment courses will be located at Abraham Lincoln High School in the Parkside. The classes are part of City College of San Francisco’s (CCSF) Free City program and is tuition free for San Francisco residents.

Mar, who represents District 4, sees this program as an investment in the Sunset District. The offerings are based on specific feedback collected from community members. The program will offer classes to residents unable to commute to campuses outside of the Sunset.

Ninety percent of the older adult classes were cut for the 2020 spring semester as part of a wide-sweeping reduction just days before Thanksgiving, which eliminated almost 300 classes to address a $13 million City College budgetary shortfall. Since the City College Sunset courses will be funded by District 4, they were spared the ax.

The class cuts are part of what some see as a troubling trend in which CCSF appears to be transitioning from a community college model to a junior college model, where students in pursuit of an associate degree before transferring to a four-year school are prioritized.

The junior college model does not account for seniors and life-long learners who are taking classes to build skills, stay healthy and find community. Recent changes to the funding formula at the state level have decreased funding for courses that do not lead directly to degrees. 

Mar’s office hopes that City College Sunset can serve as a model for future programs of its kind by providing free and necessary services to the neighborhood.

“I don’t think it’s a zero-sum game where we have to pick between being a junior college and a community college,” said Mar’s Youth and Education Policy Legislative Aide Alan Wong.

In an effort to combat this trend, Mar is pushing for a Community Higher Education Fund (CHEF) to subsidize classes that serve the entire community.

“CHEF is a way for us as a city to show that, if the state is no longer supporting these community oriented classes, we as a city are going to invest in community college to make sure it continues serving the needs of our community,” Wong said.

City College played a central role in the education and career development of Wong and his parents. His father, after immigrating to San Francisco from Hong Kong, earned a culinary arts certificate from CCSF to become a cook and provide for his family. Wong was able to graduate from the University of California, San Diego at the age of 19 because of credits he earned taking classes at CCSF while he was in high school. ESL classes also helped his mother gain confidence in her language abilities.

“These community-serving classes have benefited my own family,” Wong said.

“City College Sunset is a model for how a city can invest in City College for classes that we as a community want,” he added.

An enrollment fair was held in December where 50 students signed up for classes. Another legislative aide in  Mar’s office, Edward Wright said he is “hearing from folks across the neighborhood.” 

For more information about City College Sunset, contact Supervisor Gordon Mar’s office at (415) 554-7460 or email marstaff@sfgov.org.


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