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Subject: AIC certification plan

AIC certification plan

From: Bonnie Baskin <bonnieasia<-a>
Date: Friday, November 21, 2008
Christopher Augerson <chris [at] augersonartconservation__com>

>Regarding the proposed plan for AIC certification of conservators, I
>oppose it for the reasons outlined below.  In evaluating it, I draw
>on my knowledge of accreditation schemes in the UK, France and
>Belgium, with which I have first-hand experience.  I appreciate the
>work that many have done, but I see no need to change from the
>current, less costly system of AIC membership categories such as
>Professional Associate.  Moreover, I see potential pitfalls
>associated with its implementation beyond its financial cost.  Most
>importantly, I believe such certification will misallocate AIC's
>limited resources and that of its members.

Christopher Augerson's wise, cogent, and comprehensive posting
arguing against the AIC's proposed certification program is
immensely welcome.  I hope it will join with Barbara Appelbaum and
Paul Himmelstein's recent letter in AIC News, a letter which
Augerson also cites, to put some brakes on AIC's headlong pursuit of
certification and instead help generate the debate that we AIC
members must have on an issue of such importance.

I would like to enlarge upon Christopher Augerson's point that
test-based certification is a significant step downward in quality
from the review accorded AIC Professional Associates candidates,
whose knowledge, thinking, and actual hands-on performance must be
evaluated by three PAs or Fellows.  Doesn't it in fact undermine us
to lower our professional standards by adopting such a test rather
than a thoroughgoing three-person review?  Don't lowered standards
fly in the face of the overall purpose of certification?  And do we
really want to give our institutional approval to conservators who
may write great short essays, but whose practical work, though
submitted, is never verified?  This makes no sense at all to me.

In addition, I want to express my concern that our AIC officers are
failing to provide the unbiased leadership that the certification
issue deserves.  For example, last summer's questionnaire includes
an item that must rank as one of the great howlers of questionnaire
partisanship:  Asking if respondents would vote Yes or No on
certification if they had to vote right away, the questionnaire
describes the current proposed model as "the certification model
that after years of work the CITF believes is the best model for
AIC. ... " This is like advertising for a Yes.

And there's more.  The "strong" results that AIC later reported in
favor of the certification model could be obtained only through
selective presentation of the numbers.  Specifically, 78.4% of the
2,880 AIC members who received the questionnaire never responded,
representing the majority response.  Should you count people who, in
droves, vote No Response?  Absolutely if you are interested in
assessing your members' thinking.  Yet AIC ignored the 78.4%.  Of
the 621 (21.6%) who did respond, 393 voted Yes to the howler above
and 227 voted No, and AIC concluded that 63.5% of the respondents
were in favor of the certification plan and 36.6% against it.  True,
yes, but misleading, for the actual results applied to the full
questionnaire group of 2,880 are 78.4% No Response, 13.6% Yes, and
7.9% No. Strong positive results?  Hardly.  As someone who once did
graduate-level statistics and later market research, I can tell you
exactly what the results mean:  relatively small groups of typically
more experienced conservators have decidedly pro or con opinions,
though usually with qualifications (see online answers to other
questions), but the overwhelming majority of the membership is
simply not engaged.  AIC will have to open up the discussion in a
compelling and, I urge, even-handed way before it can involve and
then ascertain the views of the bulk of its members.

In sum, let's ask our AIC officers to step back, to take a
nonpartisan stance, and to get some productive debate going.   For
starters, I strongly advocate that we take up Augerson, Appelbaum,
and Himmelstein's suggestion that enhancements of the current PA and
Fellow programs will be superior to the proposed certification model
as well as more appropriate to our particular traditions and
orientations as American conservators.

Bonnie Baskin
Objects conservator
Oakland, CA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:32
                 Distributed: Friday, December 5, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-32-002
Received on Friday, 21 November, 2008

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