Regardless of who is running PAMSP there is one stakeholder that must be included – the PAMSP Instructor. Today they are not, and they won’t be in the the future.
To PAMSP, PennDOT, Instructors are simply a resource considered easily found, trained, and replaced – like McDonald’s fry cooks.
It takes a lot of time and effort to locate and recruit Instructors.
Most who have any history with the Program have been administratively terminated a number of times, have had to deal with multiple 3rd party administrators, multiple curricula and PennDOT misfeasance. Some have departed, never to return.
Instructors spend a lot of time in training initially just to become certified in the Basic class of a single curriculum. The Basic Course is the foundational training for Instructors/RiderCoaches in nearly every curriculum and requires a lot of upfront work to even attempt.
After their initial Basic training Instructors then spend additional time in internships, mentoring, teaching, continuously learning, practicing, training, being QA’d, and retrained. It can take years for an Instructor to become truly proficient, and efficient, at delivering quality Basic Rider training.
As they want to be able to teach additional types of classes – 3 Wheel, Intermediate, Advanced, etc. – Instructors must again devote time to training (another week per), pass certification exams, then go through the cycle of mentoring, practice, etc. All for one curriculum.
Achieving Basic, 3 Wheel, Intermediate and Advanced training could easily take a month of formal training time, with months of combined preparatory work – their personal time as very few Instructors teach full time – for a single curriculum. A personal investment of 6 months or more, unpaid, over the course of a few years.
Following their training Instructors give up nights and weekends – their personal, family & vacation time – to teach students. They also give up their own riding time to train, travel and teach.
Instructors used to be able to at least count on 5 years of learning and teaching a single curriculum, having the ability to teach at any location within the Commonwealth. Now PA is allowing as many curricula as possible and allowing them to be changed, site by site, in 2-year initial increments, and later 1-year increments for the next 3 years.
So, depending on where you are teaching, what you are teaching and where in the contract cycle a vendor/site is an Instructor may invest a few months in their Basic training only to face the potential of retraining with a new provider.
Instructors are now being put in an untenable position – having already been marginalized for far too long.
Do they return to teach under any model, regardless of the Administrator?
Voice of the Instructor:
Instructors must have a voice if PAMSP is to be successful.
Regardless of who is running the program an “Instructor Council” should be implemented – a “tiger team” of current Site Coordinators, Trainers & active Instructors from each region should serve a rotating 1-year term in order to provide feedback to PennDOT, PAMSP, vendors, auditors, and the legislature.
Instructors and Site Coordinators are the only people who truly understand when things are not running properly, what is going wrong and why at the ground level.
We would be remiss if we did not point out that with the introduction of the new “3rd party” model PennDOT has made assembling this type of council even more complicated as PA no longer operates under a single Program Administrator, or teaches a single curriculum. Another downstream liability of the 2021 “3rd party” model and one that may make it impossible to build a useful, timely, and relevant Instructor Council.
Of all of the “stakeholders” politicians in all organizations like to refer to none are more marginalized, ignored, and mistreated like the PAMSP Instructor and this will likely continue into 2021.