|PSIA is 40 years old this year? That's middle age.
What do you mean "middle age"?? I'M older than that! Oh, wait....
Seriously, I'm not sure the problem with PSIA is "middle age," but I believe that the priorities of the organization have been somewhat misplaced for a very long time. JohnH is right--because there is so little awareness, even, much less demand, from the public, that PSIA shield over the Ski School desk is not worth much to the resort.
But it is a very vicious circle, isn't it? Because the public doesn't demand PSIA, resorts have little incentive to pay for PSIA-certified instructors (especially Full-Certified). So the average quality of lessons that occur under the PSIA banner is mediocre or worse, further degrading the value of PSIA membership.
We have to enter that circle somewhere, and start pushing it the other way. We can't, as JohnH points out, just raise the cost (monetarily and otherwise) of PSIA membership (for ski schools), because they don't value it that much, largely because the resorts themselves have devalued it! If the public demanded PSIA, resorts WOULD value membership more. That would take some real promotion. But before we can promote, we have to make sure that the quality of the product really is what it should be. And it should be high enough that, once students receive a lesson from a "real" PSIA instructor, they can't wait for more--and they'll ask for another PSIA instructor.
THEN we will be able to demand higher standards and set higher requirements for PSIA-member schools.
Who will benefit? EVERYONE! Students will get better lessons, so they'll enjoy the sport more. And ski more. And take more lessons. Resorts would make more money. Instructors would get paid more (good ones, anyway.) There would be more incentive for instructors to get certified. Lessons would improve. Students would get better lessons, so they'll enjoy the sport more...! That's the direction the snowball SHOULD roll!
Most of these ideas have come up before, over the years here at EpicSki. The ski industry has very much shot itself in the foot by thinking that "cheap labor"--hiring low-paid but substandard instructors--makes good economic sense in the long run.
Ironically, I think that much of the devaluing of the PSIA shield is the result of resorts thinking that it HAD value! Wanting to claim more "PSIA-Certified" instructors on their staffs, they pressured PSIA to change its certification policy. (Don't think there was pressure? Remember that some of "them" are the board members and decision makers of PSIA.) Remember when there were just two levels--"Associate," and "Certified"? There weren't that many "Certified Instructors," because it represented a very high level of experience, training, talent, and commitment. To create more "certified" instructors, PSIA added "Level 1," and more significantly, called all three levels "certified." Without improving training or changing the reality one bit, suddenly there were a LOT more "certified" instructors around. And most of them, by definition, were far less competent than the certified instructors of before. In one swift stroke, one simple shift of terminology, PSIA allowed itself to lower the standard of "certifed instructor" an extraordinary amount.
It's one of the biggest mistakes PSIA has ever made, in my opinion.