18. ASHA Curriculum Schism Explored in 2014

When one goes through ASHA posts, policies and public records there is the impression all committees and functions are all equal in their representational connection to the membership. But underlying “ASHA” are intentional authority disjunctions which disrupt the development of the educational foundations of school speech-language pathology — curriculum!

Federal Reserve

Consider the U. S. Federal Reserve to understand the problem

In grammar school we learned the U. S. government represents us democratically. “Write your congressman if you want change” But the federal reserve is a different animal (Wikiepedia):

“The Federal Reserve System…was designed to serve the interests of both the general public and private bankers. The Federal Reserve System has a “unique structure that is both public and private”[54] and is described as “independent within the government” rather than “independent of government”.[55]

….The authority of the Federal Reserve System is derived from statutes enacted by the U.S. Congress and the System is subject to congressional oversight. The members of the Board of Governors, including its chair and vice-chair, are chosen by the President and confirmed by the Senate.”

While on paper it appears the president and congress supervise the Federal Reserve, the Fed has its own expansive power which in real financial circumstances out controls the U. S. government and operates independently.

Amazon: “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve by G. Edward Griffin (Sep 11, 2010).”

The Founder’s Legacy

In 1910, speech-language pathology was flourishing in American schools. Immigrant children were coming and they required speech correction. Training was received in the colleges of education — normal schools. In 1930, a small group of speech professors took control over speech pathology to enhance their status on college campuses. They did not especially like school clinicians but they saw the political and financial benefits of capturing on-campus training programs, effectively taking them away from education.

In the 1950s the burdens of training therapists mounted. Supervision demands and certification paperwork grew. The ASHA organization was moved from one university to another and the clerical work had to be shared. The founders wanted to retain control of the organization but wanted to shed the demands of the burgeoning national organization.

Off to Washington

The tight-knit group of professors and their students hired an executive director and moved ASHA to Washington, D.C. from Wayne State University in Detroit. Two aims evolved:

1. retain tight control over the core mission and authority.

2. organize a practical system for ASHA’s housekeeping.

The first strategy was to ensure control over credentialing — accreditation of institutions and certification of students. Education had already been pushed out of the picture. Now ASHA must be the sole provider of certified professions, establishing a training cartel. Training increased on campus and off campus revenues. The executive director through a small group of hand-picked doctoral-level men embracing the founder’s vision ran the show. The director was Kenneth O. Johnson (1958-1980), a disciplined administrator who pushed hard for control of accreditation.

Like the federal reserve, a “semi-autonomous body” was formed, The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA).

The public side of ASHA became a successful non-profit organization widely respected as a non-profit. It became a polished public relations organ for ASHA and built a large continuing education system. CCC graduates were required to sign up for continuing education. As to collaboration, the deficiencies carried over from graduate education might be addressed through the continuing education channel.

Whereas the Executive Director played a strong role in providing administrative support for credentialing, the elected ASHA president became the figurehead for the non-profit organization with public relations affairs.

Hence the schism was formed with tacit understandings that CAA business was largely off-limits. The powerful position of the Board of Directors represented in the bylaws was diluted by the need to continue on with historical separations.

When the CAA announced “accreditation decisions” for academic programs, it did so in a manner suggesting ASHA is a separate distant entity:

“Below is a list of recent accreditation decisions made by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).”


In all aspects of public affairs, ASHA proper should be the face of the organization. It carries the authority to change CAA.

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