Background: March 8, 2016 - Here's the Issue

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The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) has recently informed California massage schools that, starting July 1, 2016, for any schools not approved directly by CAMTC (a new, pending process that began in 2015), all training hours taught before that time will NO LONGER BE ELIGIBLE toward an application for the Certified Massage Therapist (CMT).  The ONLY way to have those hours counted toward a CMT from these schools is for the alumni/students of those schools to apply for the CMT by June 30, 2016 (more details below).


Why This May Affect You:

Harbin School of Healing Arts (HSHA) applied for Approval from CAMTC under a new state policy in 2015, and our application was under review by CAMTC, along with about 120 other massage schools in California.  Though we are very confident that we would have been approved, the Valley Fire destroyed Harbin Hot Springs and our school, preventing us from completing the Site Visit, which is part of the CAMTC approval process.  Therefore, if CAMTC's new policy is adopted, after June 30, 2016, NONE of our school's training hours will be accepted by CAMTC by any applicants seeking CMT status.  This includes training hours received at ANY time in the school's history.


Who Else Is Affected:

Possibly your Friends and Colleagues!  
This policy affects many thousands of students whose schools:
   - Closed honorably and legally for any reason, and were approved to operate by BPPE, and whose hours were accepted by CAMTC prior to this new policy.
   - Have decided NOT to pursue the new CAMTC direct approval process, but are still approved by BPPE and whose hours were accepted by CAMTC prior to this new policy.


Why HSHA and Over 100 Other Massage Schools Oppose This New Policy from CAMTC:

Hundreds of California massage schools, including Harbin's Watsu Center, School of Shiatsu and Massage and HSHA, spent thousands of hours and dollars over the years to maintain state approvals and make sure their training hours were accepted by CAMTC, without fail.  And students/alumni spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to receive that training, with the assurance that it would be accepted toward the CMT, should they decide to pursue it.  It's grossly unfair to the schools and students/alumni to make those hours ineligible after decades of legal operation and no problems with CAMTC.


What You Should Do Immediately:

INFORM EVERYONE - Forward this email to anyone you know who is a massage therapist, regardless of whether you think they've been considering applying for the CMT.  We need to get the word out!
INFORM YOURSELF - Read the details below carefully, so you can be informed about what is going on surrounding policies that can affect your career, the careers of your friends and colleagues, and the massage profession in California.
LEND YOUR VOICE - Send a message to to CAMTC and the Senator most directly involved with this issue.  Please ask them to amend the policy so that you and thousands of other students/alumni of ANY affected schools don't have to lose so much time and expense.  See below for contact info and sample messages to the individual at CAMTC and the California Senate who can change this policy. 
TAKE ACTION - If this policy may affect you, and you've been considering pursuit of the CMT in the near future, you need to APPLY TO CAMTC BY JUNE 30, 2016!  Note: You do NOT have to have completed all 500 hours of training in CAMTC-Approved schools by this date.  After you apply, you have ONE YEAR to complete the 500 hours and pass the MBLEx.  But as of July 1, 2016, any further training hours will only be accepted by schools DIRECTLY APPROVED BY CAMTC, under a new mandate began in 2015.  Only about 120+ schools applied for this new approval, and all applications are still pending.  CAMTC will have to provide a list of newly-approved schools in the coming months.


What HSHA Is Doing On Your Behalf:

*  We have been directly negotiating with the Director of Educational Standards Division at CAMTC to be flexible with HSHA, given the fact that our school's temporary closure was due to the Valley Fire.  (See below to support our efforts!)
*  Very soon, we will also appeal directly to The Honorable Jerry Hill, the California senator most directly involved with CAMTC  (See below to support our efforts!)
*  We have been working with the Independent Massage School Association of California (IMSAC) to try to convince CAMTC to change this policy.  HSHA has been a member of IMSAC since it began in 2009.  IMSAC was created specifically to provide member schools with representation and a voice during a period of significant regulatory changes, including the creation of CAMTC in 2009 by the California Legislature.
*  We have been exploring any possible actions that can keep this policy from cancelling decades of legally-gained training hours.  These options are very complex, involve other schools and agencies, and future ramifications of these actions are difficult to anticipate.


How You Can Help: There are TWO WAYS, in 5 minutes!

NUMBER ONE:
Let CAMTC know you're concerned!  Ask them to back off on this new policy and work with massage schools to adopt a more reasonable one or scrap it altogether.  See below for contact information and suggestions for the content of your message to CAMTC:

Postal Mail:  
Joe Bob Smith - Director, Educational Standards Division
California Massage Therapy Council
One Capitol Mall, Suite 320
Sacramento, CA 95814

Email:  
jbsmith@camtc.org

Suggestions for your Comments:
-  Be clear, concise and respectful
-  Keep to the key points, don't wander with your message
-  Let him know in tangible ways how this policy would negatively affect you and/or your friends and colleagues

Suggested Content for your Comments:
Dear Mr. Smith:
It has come to my attention that CAMTC has very recently chosen to adopt a new policy based on a very narrow interpretation of its mandate, set forth by AB 1147.  This new policy aims to invalidate any legally-accrued training hours gained by students of BPPE-Approved schools prior to June 30, 2016, for schools that closed or will be closing before that date.

First, I feel that this policy is incredibly unfair to the schools who worked hard over the years to maintain approval from BPPE and meet and exceed all standards set forth by CAMTC, so that their students' training hours could be eligible for the CMT, offering them a way to enhance their credibility and reputation as a professional massage therapist.  It's just as unfair to the students who never had any reason to believe that those hours would ever be ignored, as long as the schools in which they were trained were not un-approved due to negligence of the law.

Second, I also feel that this policy places a tremendous burden on alumni of these schools to respond with very short notice.  And if they DON'T receive this information in time, it could force them to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to "start over" in their pursuit of the 500 training hours necessary to become eligible for the CMT - even if they've already gained several times that amount of training hours, and from state-approved schools.

Please discontinue your pursuit of this policy and work with the massage schools of California to adopt a policy that will strengthen the massage profession without causing so much hardship to thousands of hard-working professionals.

Respectfully Yours,
[YOUR NAME, TITLE, BUSINESS NAME/EMPLOYER, LOCATION, CREDENTIALS, YEARS IN PRACTICE]


NUMBER TWO:

Let the State Legislature know you're concerned!  Ask them to provide CAMTC with direction on this new policy and work with massage schools to adopt a more reasonable one or scrap it altogether.  The bill creating CAMTC is set to "sunset" this year, and you can contact the senator directly overseeing that process.  See below for contact information and suggestions for the content of your message to Senator Jerry Hill:

Postal Mail:  
The Honorable Jerry Hill
Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee
State Capitol, Room 5035
Sacramento, CA 95814

Email (via comment form on his web page:) 
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/send-e-mail

Suggestions for your Comments:
-  Be clear, concise and respectful
-  Keep to the key points, don't wander with your message
-  Let him know in tangible ways how this policy would negatively affect you and/or your friends and colleagues

Suggested Content for your Comments:
Dear Senator Hill:

It has come to my attention that the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) has very recently chosen to adopt a new policy based on a very narrow interpretation of its mandate, set forth by AB 1147.  This new policy aims to invalidate any legally-accrued training hours gained by students of BPPE-Approved schools prior to June 30, 2016, for schools that closed or will be closing before that date.

First, I feel that this policy is incredibly unfair to the schools who worked hard over the years to maintain approval from BPPE and meet and exceed all standards set forth by CAMTC, so that their students' training hours could be eligible for the CMT, offering them a way to enhance their credibility and reputation as a professional massage therapist.  It's just as unfair to the students who never had any reason to believe that those hours would ever be ignored, as long as the schools in which they were trained were not un-approved due to negligence of the law.

Second, I also feel that this policy places a tremendous burden on alumni of these schools to respond with very short notice.  And if they DON'T receive this information in time, it could force them to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to "start over" in their pursuit of the 500 training hours necessary to become eligible for the CMT - even if they've already gained several times that amount of training hours, and from state-approved schools.

Please discontinue your pursuit of this policy and work with the massage schools of California to adopt a policy that will strengthen the massage profession without causing so much hardship to thousands of hard-working professionals.

Respectfully Yours,
[YOUR NAME, TITLE, BUSINESS NAME/EMPLOYER, LOCATION, CREDENTIALS, YEARS IN PRACTICE]



More Details and Back Story on this Situation:

Dear Students and alumni of Harbin School of Healing Arts and School of Shiatsu and Massage:

It has very recently come to our attention that CAMTC is planning to drastically change the way massage training hours are counted toward your application for Certified Massage Therapist (CMT).  

In essence, unless you submit a COMPLETE APPLICATION for your CMT on or before JUNE 30, 2016, any training you received from the massage school at Harbin before that date will BECOME INELIGIBLE toward the CMT certificate as of JULY 1, 2016.  This means that, if you were thinking about applying or decided to apply for a CMT after that date, none of your School of Shiatsu and Massage or Harbin School of Healing Arts hours would be counted toward your application.

How did this happen?
In the Fall of 2014, the bill to continue CAMTC was signed into law by Gov. Brown, which brought with it some big changes.  Most notably, the updated bill brought the new mandate that schools must be DIRECTLY approved by CAMTC, and outlined specific guidelines for the approval application process, in order for training hours to be accepted by applicants from that school.  Previously, schools were approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) and recognized by CAMTC as providing training that met minimum core curriculum requirements making their students' training hours eligible toward the CMT - but CAMTC did not have a process in place for approving schools directly until 2015.  This new process officially goes into effect on July 1, 2016.

HSHA and its previous incarnations as The Niyama School, The Watsu Center and the School of Shiatsu and Massage has been approved continuously by BPPE (previously BPPVE) since the late 1980s, and our school's training hours have been deemed eligible toward the CMP and CMT since the CAMTC came into existence in 2009.  We consider all training during those years to have been "legally accrued hours", and that is also the stance of IMSAC and many other massage schools and massage training advocates across the state of California.

Joe Bob Smith, the Director of Educational Standards Division in charge of the new approval process, was instrumental and very helpful in advising the 120+ massage schools who applied for the new CAMTC approval.  He even came to meet with the IMSAC schools as a group for a half day of meetings in February of 2015, which was attended by HSHA staff.

From February to April of 2015, HSHA spent hundreds of hours, and brought on another part-time employee to complete the application and submit it to CAMTC.  We were extremely confident that we would be approved with flying colors.  Unfortunately, the Valley Fire that destroyed Harbin Hot Springs and all of the school buildings took away our ability to allow CAMTC to conduct a Site Visit, which is an integral part of the school approval process.

The new mandate that was announced to California massage schools by CAMTC only in February of 2016 stipulates that any student training hours from a school that WAS approved by BPPE and CAMTC on or prior to June 30, 2016 but for whatever reason will NOT be approved under the new CAMCT School Approval mandate will be INELIGIBLE and NOT ACCEPTED by toward a CMT from CAMTC.

CAMTC is well aware of the status of HSHA and has been flexible in our state of hiatus due to the Valley Fire.  However, because the school will not be able to complete the CAMTC School Approval process, CAMTC will NOT ACCEPT ANY of those legally accrued hours toward a new CMT after June 30, 2016. 

Who does this affect?
Thousands of students who legally accrued training hours from schools approved by BPPE and accepted by CAMTC toward a CMT on or before June 30, 2016, from schools that:
• Closed legally and responsibly on or before June 30, 2016 for any reason
• Decided NOT to pursue direct approval from CAMTC, but will continue to operate legally with approval from BPPE
• Schools that applied for direct approval from CAMCT, but cannot complete the approval process due to unforeseen circumstances (including the Harbin School of Healing Arts)
 I already have my CMT.  Why should I care?
• Someone could have 500, 1000, 2000 hours of legally accrued training, but if they don't apply for the CMT by June 30, 2016, have to start over and get 500 hours of training from a newly-approved school


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