Well, VSP, of course you know that, at least in the Rocky Mountain Division, there IS a re-verification program designed to keep the examining staff current and consistent. It wasn't met with universal approval when introduced a couple years ago. For reasons you brought up, we EXPECTED some resistance. And as a fairly new program, barely through its first two-year cycle, it is not perfect.
But the results have been great, in my opinion. The verification process, which in a two-year cycle runs every examiner through each of the skiing tasks on each level of the exams, had pretty much the desired results. Some of the staff that hadn't kept up with the evolution in technique and thinking, or whose skills had waned, became inspired to bring their levels up. A few recognized that perhaps the time had finally come for them to bow out gracefully and accept emeritus status--no dishonor in that! Weaknesses were exposed, and pretty much everyone discovered areas that needed work in order to bring the whole group to a higher level of consistency.
This process, in addition to the required annual Fall Training that the entire Ed. Staff must participate in (at their own expense), has gone a long ways to minimize the "old boys' club" syndrome that you described.
The Alpine Committee will revisit the Re-Verification process again this summer, now that the first two-year cycle has ended. We'll try to make it even more valid and valuable.
The answer to your question is obvious, is it not? Because it's a job, we MUST make sure that everyone performs to a certain standard. The membership simply will not stand--and has not stood--for anything less. So our Rocky Mountain Alpine Committee, under the direction of the new chair, will do its best to continue to improve the education and examining process in our division.
Remember too that there have always been a few other checks and balances in the system. One of the other jobs of the Alpine Committee over the summer is to review and act upon all the feedback from the membership regarding clinics, exams, procedures, and personnel. From clinician and examiner feedback sheets, to complaint letters, documented problems that arise are discussed and solutions are implemented. It is NOT actually that rare that an examiner or clinician gets censured. Individuals have been warned, demoted, suspended, or moved to permanent inactive or emeritus status, on several occasions that I'm aware of in the past few years, for a variety of legitimate reasons.
The perception of the "Good Ole Boys Club" is far from reality, however common it may be. Yet perceptions persist, and take on a reality of their own despite the truth. In fact though, what is most resistant to change is NOT so often the small group of leaders--which in our case changes frequently--but the tired, unsupported perceptions of the members who have not kept up with what is going on at the TOP of the organization! Unverified assumptions and fabricated illusions are dangerous things to base actions upon!
Indeed, I think that the leadership of the Rocky Mountain Division is EXTREMELY interested in change for the better. It has put in an enormous amount of (uncompensated, financially) time and effort to that end. One of the biggest challenges the leadership faces is the resistance to new ideas that the MEMBERSHIP demonstrates. New programs and new models must be introduced circumspectly, sometimes more gradually than I'd prefer, and sometimes with a sugar coating, lest we suffer the backlash of the membership. It is all too easy for ANY change to be viewed as a "reinvention of the wheel."
Of course, it is the balance of these forces that helps keep the organization on track, ties the past to the future, promotes necessary evolution while preventing unneeded change for its own sake, and keeps everyone honest.
I've drifted a bit from your original topic, VSP, but the issues are related. Yes, of course, the skills of the examiner/clinician staff must be current and consistent. The customer--the membership of PSIA--has no interest in a product that has little perceived value. It is no different from the situation of ski schools in general, which must provide a consistent product that people value if they expect to grow their business!
We can all do better!
[ May 18, 2002, 11:58 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]