Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 24, 2009


Washington Post - Virginia recently mandated that studios offering yoga teacher training must be state-certified. . . . The tussle has pitted yoga enthusiasts against bureaucrats. At issue: Are yoga teacher training programs akin to vocational classes that should be regulated by the state? Or is Big Brother stretching too far into a centuries-old spiritual practice?
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently declared that studios offering yoga teacher instruction must be certified. That involves a $2,500 fee, audits, annual charges of at least $500 and a pile of paperwork. . . In June, New York's State Education Department sent a letter to yoga instructor training programs telling them that those that aren't licensed faced a $50,000 fine. The state backed off after yoga instructors complained and the media covered the controversy. Michigan also started regulating the programs this year. State Del. David E. Poisson (D-Loudoun), who said he aced a yoga course in college but hasn't stuck with it, said the effort is a "classic case of regulation run amuck." He said he's planning to introduce legislation to exempt yoga from the licensing requirement during the next session of the Virginia General Assembly in January.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next they will be after guitar lessons, pottery, finger painting and ballroom dancing.

August 25, 2009 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Virginia is a hotbed of legalistic boondoggles that exist only to funnel more revenues into corrupt city and state pols' pockets, and this idiocy is just a good examle of that.

August 26, 2009 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a lot more to this story in Virginia than just the state regulating Yoga teachers. The quote below is from the July 10 New York Times article on Yoga Teachers and state regulation (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/11/nyregion/11yoga.html). It is good example of what SCHEV (State Council of Higher Education for Virginia) really wants (and has been getting) from small and even tiny proprietary schools and is now seeking from Yoga teacher training schools:

"The conflict started in January when a Virginia [SCHEV] official directed regulators from more than a dozen states to an online national registry of schools that teach yoga and, in the words of a Kansas official, earn a 'handsome income.'"

This is not about properly regulating Yoga training. Regulation as it exists today does not provide quality control. This is about money. SCHEV currently requires that any proprietary school that provides job skill certification training that grosses anywhere from $1 (that's one dollar) to $50,000. per year pay an annual "fee" of $500. This means that any training school, not just Yoga teacher-training schools, has to pay the State of Virginia at least $500 every year, even if it grosses only $400. In addition, schools have to pay for a surety bond and they have to complete financial forms that probably require the help of an accountant--an additional expense. This is an undue hardship on a number of small schools, not just Yoga schools. (When SCHEV first took over supervision of proprietary schools a few years ago they demanded a $1500 annual "fee." for all schools making $150,000 or less. It was only through external pressure that SCHEV eventually reduced the fee to $500 for schools grossing $50,000 or less each year.)

At the other end of the spectrum, schools that make a lot of money do very well when it comes to the annual recertification "fees." The fee for a school that grosses anywhere over $150,000 is $2500. So if a school grosses fifteen million dollars annually, it only has to pay $2500 annually. So rich schools, in effect, get a huge discount and pay a nominal fee, while very small schools have to pay a much higher percentage of their gross income. See page 28 at http://www.schev.edu/AdminFaculty/iApproval/final%20regs%208-24-06.pdf

SCHEV has an extensive list of regulations and required forms/paperwork that are based on a one-size, one-kind fits all type of policy intended for large schools. A number of these requirements and forms are an undue burden and make little sense for small and tiny schools. In 2007, SCHEV conducted on-site audits of 31 proprietary schools and claimed that schools had committed 177 violations of these regulations.. They charged the schools $1000 for each violation--a profit of $177,000.. See http://www.schev.edu/SCHEV/AgendaBooks/2008Jan/AgendaBookJan08.pdf on pages 20 and 21.

The SCHEV fees these schools pay are in addition to the federal and state income taxes and business license taxes that they are already paying.

In Virginia, the issue is really about making money by exploiting well-intentioned and responsible small schools and programs--to the point of damaging them--rather than protecting consumers and students.

September 14, 2009 6:04 AM  

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