Lobbyist's Account of NACIQI Hearing Begs Questions

Lawyer, lobbyist, and “Silence Is Consent” advocate, Mark Cushing wrote recently, “AVMA accreditation hearing goes according to form.”  This is a different impression than we were left with following the AVMA's version of events (to which we have responded), and it differs from that of one of our general practitioner representatives at the hearing, Eden Myers.

Recalling Hanlon’s razor, that one must never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity, I don’t know whether to believe that Mr. Cushing is being deliberately dishonest, for the entire AVMA/COE/NACIQI ordeal was anything but according to form, or whether he simply doesn’t get it, “it” being that there is waaaayyyy more to the stakeholders’ lack of acceptance of AVMA’s Council on Education than simply a dissatisfaction with Mr. Cushing’s pushing of a distributive model of education.

As if the dishonesty within the title is not enough, the opening sentence of his blog is patently false, as well. “The U.S. Department of Education conducted a full morning of hearings...”

No. There was only one hearing, and it was scheduled because the previous, regularly scheduled hearing in 2012 went distinctly not according to form. A variety of non-compliance issues were discovered at that regularly scheduled meeting, which set up this recent December 11 meeting that was not part of the AVMA-COE’s regular intervals.

Mr. Cushing went on to say, “No new evidence was presented by COE’s critics,” and that “generic charges were aimed at the COE… without any evidence that graduates of veterinary colleges with distributive clinical models performed in practice at ‘substandard’ levels."  First, there wasn’t need for “new evidence,” as the old evidence sufficed. Second, the charges brought by Mary Beth Leininger and Bill Kay were anything but “generic,” as they detailed specific instances of political cronyism related to their premature dismissals from the COE. Third, a significant portion of the evidence and specific charges had, and still have nothing to do with “substandard” graduates. “Substandard” carries a specific definition, and this is all well-documented. The only party using “substandard” as a pejorative is Mr. Cushing.

His continued defense of AVMA’s COE borders on the laughable when he wrote, “The COE has made numerous changes through this review process, and more are to follow, including greater efforts to reach out to all veterinary stakeholders.” First, it was made plainly clear that the veterinary practitioner community was unaware of changes the COE has made through the process, and Mr. Derksen admitted as much before the committee. Second, any changes that follow will be because the NACIQI has ordered the changes, not because the COE recognized any benefits on their own.

Finally, Mr. Cushing referred to a separation of the COE from the AVMA as a “nuclear issue.” In fact, such a separation is not unprecedented. At all. While it is not unusual for professional advocacy associations to sponsor educational accrediting agencies, examples of associations housing agencies and sharing resources with them are few and far between. Whether Mr. Cushing knows this or not reflects only on his interest in informing himself.

Getting back to Hanlon’s razor, and trying to separate malice from stupidity, it is probably good to note Upton Sinclair’s famous quote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” This is probably most applicable under the circumstances.

(For a more accurate, unbiased account of the hearing, visit freelance journalist, John T. Adams III's piece on DVM360.)

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