St. Louis, MO
Posted - 02/05/2011 : 3:18 PM
The Carmichael Lynch Spong press release included this part that I didn't discuss in that entry: "You'll need to complete the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Instructor Preparation Workshop that certifies you as an MSF Instructor"
Historically, RE instructor candidates have gone through a SMSP instructor preparation course at the state's expense even if they never teach in the state program or leave the program (for whatever reason) and teach for a private commercial school. While this allows commercial schools to take financial advantage of the state program, it means that all instructors have been trained by the state motorcycling program and graduates meet state standards and must continue to do so to be re certified.
This supports state's right over the training in their state and allows residents of that state more control over what happens, in the public interest, in their own state.
States, then, can and do set higher standards than the M$F. Such standards, as at UIUC, include longer training, more peer teaching, and either strongly suggested or required courses taught in a given amount of time. M$F standards, in fact, are the baseline the absolute minimum. To simply be a "M$F certified" instructor apart from state program training, then, can mean one has met the absolute minimum requirements possible.
However, as I wrote in an earlier entry, the H-D RE packet points out that unless it's required by the state, M$F can directly help the candidate become M$F certified by other means or H-D itself can contract out to hold its own RCP. In the latter case, it means that H-D or a dealer is bearing the cost for training their own instructors. That's a good thing.
Except, of course, when a state run program motorcycle instructor training course has a much higher standards and requirements as in Illinois. In that case, the minimalist M$F standards in the basic RCP necessarily does not measure up. If an RE instructor does not go through the basic instructor training offered by the state then, they may not meet state standards. Iow, they may be legally trained but not as well trained as state instructors.
Rider's Edge: Bottom notch, not top notch at least in Illinois.
Why does this matter? Because, as we know, H-D is on the hunt for a multitude of instructors. And, if they turn to M$F only standards, that means they are creating a core of minimally trained, minimally qualified instructors. Which hardly measures up to lofty claims on the Rider's Edge website. And that opens Harley-Davidson to charges of deceptive advertising.
M$F training and certifying instructors apart from state programs
And that's exactly what's happened in the Chicago area. Illinois H-D, the subject of one of our recent range examinations, apparently, had a M$F RiderCoach Prep training program this spring that produced ten new M$F curricula instructors on May 21, 2006. According to an e-mail addressed to "Drayton" at Illinois Harley Davidson from M$F employee Elieen Cornish. In it, Ms. Cornish said that certification cards would be mailed to the ten new instructors. The e-mail included the new instructor's names and RERP numbers.
However, it appears that none of those ten had been trained by or trained through any of the region's Chief Instructors nor the state run instructor prep. A Harley dealer near Indianapolis also held his own RCP this past spring.
And M$F then informed the Illinois state program after the deed was done. Iow, M$F abrogated the right of the state through its region to set its own standards for "M$F certified" instructors. This does not surprise any rider ed administrator or instructor I spoke to about it.
H-D really is a HOG.
But it's yet another instance that H-D RE promises to state programs clash with their standard operating procedure. I refer back to the blog entry, "When did it all become a lie?" posted on 3/13/06: According to the H-D RE representatives who first marketed RE to state administrators, that instructors would meet state standards.
The official RE instructor application packet also states that instructors, to maintain their RE instructor certification, must "Meet/adhere to all certification requirements of the states in which they will be teaching" . Since they didn't go through the more rigorous training and have never been evaluated as instructors, it's clear these 10 new IL H-D instructors don't meet all the certification requirements. Whether they would be evaluated as meeting the standard for IL instructors is anyone's guess. Iow, these instructors are not certified in the region of IL in which they will be teaching nor even recognized as qualified instructors. They cannot teach in a state run program without applying to the program and they may not be accepted as qualified instructors.
The packet also says, to maintain H-D RE certification, RE instructors must "Maintain certification in the states in which they will be teaching." And finally, the RE instructor packet says, RE instructors are required to teach in state programs. However, since they aren't recognized by the state program, they can't do either.
Which means they therefore shouldn't be teaching in the IL H-D RE program. But I would imagine they are, wouldn't you?
Iow, at Illinois Harley-Davidson, at least, the 10 instructors are those absolute minimum instructors at least compared to the instructors in the IL SMSP. That's hardly the top notch, expert, genetically engineered to teach ones that both the dealer and HOG corporate advertise. The description of the instructors in the program then make false, unsupportable claims that cannot be detected as deceptive by unsophisticated consumers.
The failure to arrange with UIUC a separate training program if that is what IL H-D wanted that would meet regional standards then was sheer teleopathy that opened both Illinois H-D and the Motor Company to charges of deceptive advertising.
The conflict of interest in M$F training and certifying for H-D.
Without a doubt, there's an inherent and irresolvable conflict of interest that arises from M$F's financial dependence on Harley-Davidson Motor Company as one of the two largest dues paying members.
To create a situation where M$F trains instructors and directly certifies them for it's principal benefactor is obviously and demonstrably unethical. It is nothing less than setting the chickens to guard the fox.
When M$F and H-D by-passed the state, they opened themselves to charges of favoritism, quid pro quo and violations of the rules governing a 501 (c) (6) organization. And those are the ones off the top of my head. And they weaken the credibility of those instructors themselves since the M$F standards are so much lower than the UIUC standards.
That's just plain stupid teleopathy at work. If they hadn't had target fixation, they would've seen that paying UIUC to train those instructors would add a layer of credibility and quality guarantee insurance to the RE program and the marketing of the RE program precisely because the UIUC program standards are higher.
Why M$F materially participated in this is anyone's guess. It could be that financial dependency. It could be that the level of competence is so low at M$F that no one realized the vulnerability they were exposing M$F to. Or it could be a case where M$F expressed its continuing displeasure with the IL SMSP through this action. Or all of the above or none of the above. That doesn't matter; it's a done deed. And now M$F has, itself, damaged its remaining credibility as a standard setting organization that is about the public interest. Instead, it's shown that it serves the needs of its dues paying members at the expense of the public interest.
That Buche then speaks to the AP writer about how essential and life saving training is becomes doubly ironic: Meet Mr. Waffle Man, Emperor of Irvine and Chief Shill for Harley-Davidson. Maybe he'll do one of those fast talking infomercials for them next.
Initial training is the only way for H-D to guarantee quality motorcycling instruction.
It's only in the RCP where how to teach motorcycling is taught. And it's only in (some) states where standards are higher than the absolute minimum. The RCP done by state programs, then, is the only protection a consumer and HOG has that a H-D RE instructor will even come close to what was promised as well as protecting both M$F and Harley-Davidson from the inherent conflict of interest and charge of favoritism.
Thus leaving training and initial recognition of an instructor candidate to the state program avoids even an appearance of wrong doing. H-D dealerships should be required to pay state run programs for the initial training of their instructors. That way, H-D RE pays it's fair share and yet comply with state standards.
The increasing non-transparency of HOG's RE.
As both M$F and HOG's recent actions have shown, all efforts are to remove any scrutiny or evaluation of ranges, instructors and courses from any outside observation, shaping or supervision. This recent example is just one more layer in obscurity and unaccountability.
Given Buche's and Tyson's insistence, speaking for the M$F and NHTSA respectively, on how essential training is in terms of the soaring fatality rate, such increasing obscurity is not only dangerous but an issue the NTSB meeting needs to address.
Though M$F did this on behalf of just one of their members, it sets a precedent if not stopped for any other motorcycle manufacturer who decides to start a national dealership based training program.
M$F violated Illinois' RERP contract.
Additionally, all riders, all SMRO activists, the national organizations, NHTSA and the NTSB should note: what IL H-D and therefore H-D corporate and M$F did may be legal but it may not be in Illinois.
Illinois is one of the states that still is operating under the original contract with M$F established in 1983. No later contract exists. And, as far as I know of and by mid-August, M$F has not notified John Sudlow, UIUC program coordinator, that the original RERP has been revoked per the 60 day notice. The original contract, then, was the standard when M$F trained and certified those 10 RE instructors.
According to Safe Cycling, by the end of 1983, Illinois signed a certification agreement that stipulated the state was "responsible for coordinating all instructor preparation and motorcycle rider courses; only MSF certified instructors will be used in state programs; instructor preparations and motorcycle rider education courses in the states program qualify for and participate in the Foundation's Rider Education Recognition Program (RERP)... [emphasis not in original text] Of course, that was back when the RERP actually gave the states something more than just the ability to buy products.
It seems to me that M$F broke the terms of the contract by permitting non-UIUC program instructor training and by certifying those instructors. If M$F was acting in ignorance and in good faith, it seems to me they should immediately pull the RERP numbers from the ten who were trained for IL H-D and any other RE instructors trained apart from the IL state program. If they don't, it seems that M$F was acting in bad faith toward the state.
This may also mean that the state of Illinois and/or the UIUC program has the right to order IL H-D to cease and desist employing those instructors until such a time those ten attend, complete and are recognized as properly trained and legitimate rider education instructors.
The agreement to conduct all training through the state program was a good provision in the IL contract as it assured the state that instructor training which is most definitely in the public interest would be at least to the low M$F standards and the state could set the bar much higher depending on the will of the state's residents. I suggest SMSPs demand the right to train, qualify and certify all rider instructors in the new one. This, I said would better protect the student and also M$F and H-D.
And this is why SMROs should remove M$F language from legislation governing their state's motorcycle training and replace it with state standards. If the state requires no more than the minimalist M$F standards, that's fine but for state resident motorcyclists who do want and value higher standards, some guarantee must be put in place that the corporate interests of manufacturers and their trade organization can't subvert the will of the people.