Plans to relocate some English classes for immigrants in San Francisco have sparked protests by students who say the longer commute would make class harder to attend—and that could hurt enrollment.
Immigrants flock to the English as a Second Language program at City College of San Francisco, which offers courses at multiple campuses to reach diverse communities across the city.
The site at the center of recent protests is John Adams Campus in the Panhandle, from which the college plans to move eight ESL classes to the east side Mission Campus by next semester, according to an internal City College email reviewed by The Standard.
It’s only a few-mile distance, but walking and busing from one site to the other takes about 40 minutes—enough to make it inaccessible for some students, critics of the move say.
Fanny Law, an ESL teacher who organized a rally Wednesday to oppose the planned move, said the campus is ignoring the needs of students on the west side.
“Our classes at John Adams are fully enrolled,” she said. “Why would you move classes elsewhere and make them travel across town?”
City College said it’s moving the courses to meet demand.
For Law, however, the move is just as detrimental as cutting classes by pushing them farther away from students the Richmond and the Sunset.
About 80 people participated in the mid-week demonstration—many of them immigrants. They held signs and chanted slogans on both sides of Valencia Street in front of the Mission Campus. College board trustee-elect Susan Solomon also attended the rally.
Iegor Latyshev, an ESL student and a Ukrainian refugee in the U.S. since July, said the relocation will be tough to deal with. He said his child has autism, and he wants to stay close to his kid’s west-side middle school.
“If they move [ESL] to somewhere else,” Latyshev said, “I won’t I won’t be able to attend the classes every day.”
City College confirmed to The Standard that the relocation and consolidation of classes stems from resource constraints.
The school has long faced a budgetary crisis, but hopes that a property tax hike would bring in more revenue were dashed this past election when San Francisco voters overwhelmingly rejected the measure.
With limited resources, the school decided to shift them to sites with higher demand. And right now, the college said that would be in the Mission, which this coming semester will now offer “a complete range of ESL classes, including evening and weekend opportunities.”
The school also promises more funding for ESL classes throughout the city and will have more class hours in the coming semester.
Han Li can be reached at [email protected]