Comments on bylaw amendments that make
CM nearly impossible to repeal due by May 26

AICP Certification Maintenance:
Still an Ill–Conceived Solution in Search of a Problem

The AICP Commission adopted mandatory continuing education under the moniker “Certification Maintenance” (CM) at its April 2007 meeting.

* Extremely high continuing education costs to members — will greatly increase the cost of being an AICP member, probably to over $1,000/year if you have to pay your own way,
Possibly much higher AICP dues to pay for administering the program,
* Loss of income to self–employed members,
* Having to attend and pay for training unrelated to your needs, and
No actual improvement in the quality of planning practice or in respect for planners

Thanks to all who sent comments to the AICP Commission on the CM proposal. We’ve heard from a slew of people who sent us a copy of their comments which are posted here. Now the Commission is planning to amend the AICP Bylaws to make it nearly impossible to repeal CM before members can vote in the next election which, if opponents to CM run for every AICP seat, could be a referendum on the issue. Your comments on the proposed bylaws must be received by AICP no later than Saturday, May 26, 2007. Send them to:

Tell the Commission to reject these bylaw amendments so democracy can work in AICP. There's no good reason to amend the bylaws when CM hasn't even been tested. This would be like amending the U.S. Constitution when only a statute need be adopted. Amending the bylaws now would undermine the electoral process in AICP and deny members their democratic voice.

Sound, rational reasoning — indeed rational, ethical planning practices — have been ignored by the present AICP Commission. They have presented no factual evidence of any need for this requirement; nor have they provided any evidence that it is likely to achieve any of its professed goals. This entire episode is all too similar to the worst behavior of the Bush II administration. It is very distressing that the Commission has chosen to act in the manner it has, producing the initial proposal in complete secrecy from the AICP membership, and being as extreme as possible so it can try to claim that any concessions it makes are compromises in response to the membership. It’s planning and hardball politics at their worst.

This proposal is an example of simply bad planning practice! One of the first things we learn in planning school is to gather information and data on an issue. Based on the verified facts, we then determine if there is a problem. As best anybody can tell, the Commission skipped this step. The Commission received over 1,400 comments on its initial proposal. The February 21, 2007 revision has made few changes (reduced the number of hours from 48 to 40, exempted completely retired members, credit for courses taken to satisfy mandatory continuing education in other professions — although this is a bit confusing.)

The AICP Commission writes “that planners should possess the knowledge and skills necessary to remain current in the practice of planning…” and it writes that we would “demonstrate professional credibility through continuing education.” Now anybody worth his salt knows that you do not demonstrate professional credibility by taking continuing education — there’s no cause and effect there; the nexus is missing. A planner demonstrates professional credibility through the quality of her work.

We strongly support voluntary continuing
education and training.
We oppose coercive mandatory continuing
education and training schemes.

AICP Commission simply has not proffered any evidence that AICP members do not possess current knowledge and skills. The Commission has not produced any evidence of rampant poor quality planning by AICP members — there’s just no evidence of substantial incompetence among AICP members. All professions — even those that require licensing — have some incompetent members. But AICP has not documented that it’s any worse among AICP members. And, there’s just no evidence that mandatory continuing education or retesting results in greater competence in a profession.

The Commission is proposing a solution in search of a problem.


To see the Feb 21 revised proposal, click here or download the official PDF file describing it by clicking here.

Click here for why the new proposal should be rejected.

See the results of AICP’s continuing education survey that is being used as an excuse for CM. Go to the very end to see that AICP expects to lose 27% of its members if CM is adopted. Click here for the PDF file.

We demonstrate professional credibility through the quality of the work we do, not whether we attend 40 hours of conference sessions and workshops over two years. Attending APA conference sessions or APA/AICP workshops has nothing to do with our professional competence, especially when so many of these are so superficial. There is no evidence that somebody who attends the APA National Conference or a chapter conference is a more competent planner than a planner who did not attend.

Judging by the way this coercive mandatory continuing education credits program has been designed, the only “problem” this requirement will address is slow revenue growth for chapters and national APA/AICP because half of the 40 hours of continuing ed must be from APA or APA–sponsored programs (in all the years we’ve followed this debate, we’ve never heard of an organization imposing such a requirement). If AICP and APA national and its chapters want to generate more income from training, then they should offer affordable, accessible, and high quality training that members actually want to attend.

While continuing ed opportunities from outside APA/AICP must register to “assure” quality, there is no check to assure quality of APA/AICP sponsored–events. How many chapter, section, and national conference sessions or workshops have you attended that were pretty much worthless? More and more this proposal sounds like an effort to force attendance at chapter and section events and meetings.

We’ve covered this debate for years — click here for a thorough discussion of the pros and cons expressed by many AICP members over the years. Click here for the views of other planners on the current proposal.

Why “Certification Maintenance” Should be Rejected

This sort of proposal couldn’t meet the basic requirements for issuing a special use permit. It can’t pass the straight–face test. Here’s why:

 Click here to see the pros and cons.
Click here to see opinions on this specific proposal from other
planners including letters from former APA Presidents
Stuart Meck,
FICP, Sam Casella, FICP, and Daniel Lauber, AICP, and
former AICP Commissioner Alec Bash,