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Author Topic: Grandfathering Advanced Hams to Extra Class  (Read 26972 times)
N2EY
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2012, 02:00:18 PM »

it's a typo.  

I know the difference.  


Then I suspect you did it as a trap...

But the "graying" of our Service has been going on for a heck of a lot longer than that.  Indeed, unless we quickly find some new blood, "attrition" is going to eventually prove to be our Service's undoing.

Since 2007, the number of US hams has grown by more than 50,000. And that doesn't include licenses in the grace period.


As I said, the FCC is not about to "gandfather" anyone, for to do so would be an admission that their stupid "incentive" nonsense is no longer legal...let alone relevant.  And THAT admission, in turn, would then require them to actually get up off their bureaucratic finals to implement long-needed structural reforms to Part 97.

The bottom line here remains that the ONLY way these FCC bureaucrats will now act on these issues is if they are financially FORCED into acting on them..."from above".  For, as the syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell once so eloquently noted while writing about such things, “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that, for bureaucrats, procedure is everything and outcomes mean nothing.”

Just the opposite. The current system is working as it should. Without lifting an administrative finger, the Novice and Advanced classes will eventually disappear, as licensees upgrade or drop out. Why bother to change a system that works?


But what you (conveniently?) fail to mention is that only about 18 Percent have been "incentivized" enough to become Extras.  

Why is that a bad thing? The percentage of hams with Extras continues to grow. When I got mine, we were less than 3% of US hams.


On the other hand, nearly 50% of currently licensed US Hams remain "lowly" Technicians.

Actually, the percentage of US hams with Technician licenses has dropped in recent years. From a high of 49.5%, it is now down to 48.7%.

The growth in US amateur radio is in the General and Extra classes, not the Technician. Look back to 2000 or 2007 and see.


 If these two facts aren't an absolutely stinging indictment (not to mention clear and incontrovertible evidence) of the total failure of "incentive licensing" I don't know what is.

They're not proof of that at all.

Indeed, in any other "educational" endeavor, a 18 percent success rate to the "top rung" of the ladder (an Extra Class license) would be considered a dismal failure.

No, it wouldn't.

What percentage of high school graduates get bachelor's degrees?

What percentage of those with bachelor's degrees get master's degrees?

What percentage of those with master's degrees get PhDs?

Not that any US amateur license compares with even a high school diploma...

Quote
5) The Extra just isn't that hard.

Perhaps not for someone with a BSEE.

I got my Extra between 10th and 11th grades, in 1970. That was nowhere near a record in its time. The current youngest Extra earned the license at the age of 7 years.

A bright young person, to be sure. But there's nothing in the Extra that a reasonably smart and dedicated middle-schooler can't learn.


But, even so, I fail to see why it STILL takes mastery of a 600+ page Extra Class license manual just to be able to operate my station at 14.024 MHz rather than 14.026 Mhz.  

It doesn't require any such "mastery".

All it takes is 37 or more right questions on a multiple-choice test.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KB1SF
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2012, 08:38:55 PM »

Since 2007, the number of US hams has grown by more than 50,000. And that doesn't include licenses in the grace period.

But, how many of those 50,000 are actually on the air?  Once again, you are aggregating numbers and offering sweeping generalities to make your case.  

The REST of the story, Jim, is that, according to statistics compiled and released at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention by the ARRL, the number of newly licensed hams in the USA actually PEAKED in 2009 (at 30,144) and has been headed downward ever since.  Specifically, In 2010 that number was down to 27,528 and in 2011 it was down to 24,072.  Any way you cut it, Jim, the "newly licensed ham" trend in the USA is clearly downward.  

What's more, because our FCC licenses are all on a 10 year renewal cycle, all of the FCC's licensing statistics for our Service were only completely accurate in 2002...TEN YEARS AGO.  We have absolutely NO idea how many more hams have died (or walked away from the hobby never to return) since then who aren't being accounted for in the license totals that you and others like to continually hold up as "proof" that all is well in our hobby.

Clearly, if the the "graying" of attendees at ham radio gatherings, the increasing silence on our bands, and the increasing numbers of "Silent Keys" now being shown month after month in QST are any indication, I say we are now (or soon will be) on the cusp of a steep decline in our numbers.  Or, to put it another way, everything I see, read and hear these days tells me that the number of newcomers to ham radio in the USA isn't growing as fast as the rest of us are now (or soon will be) dying off.

And, once again, I've offered my opinions and made my points on this subject.

Furthermore, I'm not about to get into yet another extended "Urinary Olympiad" with you over these issues.  That's because I have far better things to do with my time (such as writing articles about Amateur Radio for real money) than to continually waste it here writing endless responses to "bait" that does nothing but further stroke someone's already over-inflated ego.

However, for those who still may wish to learn more about where I'm coming from on these (admittedly controversial) issues, I again invite you to cruise by my Ham Radio Blog at: kb1sf.blogspot.ca and read my continuing thoughts on these and other subjects...subjects that I believe are of vital import to the future of our Service in the United States.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 08:46:51 PM by KB1SF » Logged
KG4NEL
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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2012, 07:33:28 AM »

Quote
Again, I ask:  Where's the regulatory NEED in any of that?

Trying to come up with a regulatory justification for a bureaucratic agency is a can of worms that goes well beyond anything we can come up with in amateur radio  Tongue
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N2EY
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Posts: 3926




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« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2012, 09:10:33 AM »

Since 2007, the number of US hams has grown by more than 50,000. And that doesn't include licenses in the grace period.

But, how many of those 50,000 are actually on the air?

I don't know - and neither do you.

So what's your point? How does the current license structure affect how many newcomers are on the air?

 Once again, you are aggregating numbers and offering sweeping generalities to make your case.

Nope. I'm just presenting relevant facts. Our numbers continue to grow, as evidenced by the license counts presented in another thread here.

The REST of the story, Jim, is that, according to statistics compiled and released at the 2012 Dayton Hamvention by the ARRL, the number of newly licensed hams in the USA actually PEAKED in 2009 (at 30,144) and has been headed downward ever since.  Specifically, In 2010 that number was down to 27,528 and in 2011 it was down to 24,072.  Any way you cut it, Jim, the "newly licensed ham" trend in the USA is clearly downward.

So - what's your point?


What's more, because our FCC licenses are all on a 10 year renewal cycle, all of the FCC's licensing statistics for our Service were only completely accurate in 2002...TEN YEARS AGO.

Why?

The license renewal rules haven't really changed since 1983, when the term went to 10 years. Why would the totals be accurate in 2002 but not accurate today?

There is NO logic behind your assertion. None.

 We have absolutely NO idea how many more hams have died (or walked away from the hobby never to return) since then who aren't being accounted for in the license totals that you and others like to continually hold up as "proof" that all is well in our hobby.

And we had no idea how many had done so in 2002.

The license totals have ALWAYS included SKs, inactives, etc. 2002 was no different on that score than 2012.

Clearly, if the the "graying" of attendees at ham radio gatherings, the increasing silence on our bands, and the increasing numbers of "Silent Keys" now being shown month after month in QST are any indication, I say we are now (or soon will be) on the cusp of a steep decline in our numbers.  Or, to put it another way, everything I see, read and hear these days tells me that the number of newcomers to ham radio in the USA isn't growing as fast as the rest of us are now (or soon will be) dying off.

You've been saying that for a very long time - but our numbers keep on growing. You keep giving us the same "Chicken Little" predictions of doom and gloom, but the numbers keep climbing.

Amateur "gatherings" are not a reliable sample of US amateur radio, for all sorts of reasons. "Graying" is purely subjective - how "gray" was ham radio 10, 20, 30 years ago, compared to today? You don't really know; the FCC hasn't required birthdate data for a long time now.

Here's a fun fact: For many hams, the online universe has become the club meeting and hamfest of the past. And in some cases the magazine and library as well. That simple fact profoundly changes who you see at "ham gatherings" compared to 10 or 20 years ago.

73 de Jim, N2EY
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 09:15:19 AM by N2EY » Logged
W5DQ
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« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2012, 11:42:42 AM »

"Graying" is purely subjective - how "gray" was ham radio 10, 20, 30 years ago, compared to today? You don't really know; the FCC hasn't required birthdate data for a long time now.


I'm a lot more grey than I was 30, 20, even 5 years ago. I guess a 17 yo stepdaughter tends to do that to an old guy like me  Grin

While both of you guys have valid pints, I fail to see the need for this level of intense discussion in an amateur forum. Just agree to disagree and let's all go work some new QSO's. That is what ham radio is all about ...... communincating with other HAMS.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
KB1SF
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« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2012, 05:00:39 AM »

The license totals have ALWAYS included SKs, inactives, etc. 2002 was no different on that score than 2012.

Agreed.

But when you toss in the fact that, according to the ARRL, the average age of even our newcomers is now over 50, and the average age of the rest of us was already pushing 60 the last time the FCC publicly released such statistics, it seems to me it's only a matter of time before our death rate outpaces our newcomer rate.

And it's THAT element that is present today in the statistics I'm citing that wasn't there when you and I were first licensed.  

Nobody lives forever, Jim.  

Not even you...or me.

Quote
You've been saying that for a very long time - but our numbers keep on growing. You keep giving us the same "Chicken Little" predictions of doom and gloom, but the numbers keep climbing.

Yes, our "numbers keep on climbing"....for now.  

However, the latest overall stats I've been looking at (particularly those for newly licensed hams and "upgrades) indicate that even our aggregate "growth" rate may very well have peaked.  

And, as I've said before, I hope I'm absolutely, dead wrong on all of these "Chicken Little" predictions.  But, on the other hand, this myopic "all is well" attitude that sweeping regulatory changes to our arcane licensing structure are not needed so as to attract (and keep) many more youthful newcomers than we are now doing may very well prove to be our undoing.

Only time will tell.

'Nuff said.

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF
kb1sf.blogspot.ca
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 05:17:35 AM by KB1SF » Logged
KB1SF
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« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2012, 05:09:17 AM »

I'm a lot more grey than I was 30, 20, even 5 years ago. I guess a 17 yo stepdaughter tends to do that to an old guy like me  Grin

I have a 20-year old daughter that's done the same thing to me!  They say insanity is hereditary...you get it from your children!

Quote
While both of you guys have valid pints, I fail to see the need for this level of intense discussion in an amateur forum. Just agree to disagree and let's all go work some new QSO's. That is what ham radio is all about ...... communincating with other HAMS.

Gene W5DQ

Agreed!

Which is one of the reasons that, unlike some other folks who regularly post here,  I don't spend my days, weeks and months "camped out" in forums like these.

But, every now and then, I still like to "stir the pot". Roll Eyes

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF
kb1sf.blogspot.ca

« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 05:11:32 AM by KB1SF » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2012, 06:03:30 AM »

While both of you guys have valid pints, I fail to see the need for this level of intense discussion in an amateur forum.

What valid points does KB1SF have in his posts? I don't really see any.

The whole purpose of forums like this one is intense discussion. What wrong with getting to the facts?

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N2EY
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« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2012, 06:12:40 AM »

The license totals have ALWAYS included SKs, inactives, etc. 2002 was no different on that score than 2012.

Agreed.

So your claim that the totals in 2002 were accurate is just plain WRONG.

But when you toss in the fact that, according to the ARRL, the average age of even our newcomers is now over 50, and the average age of the rest of us was already pushing 60 the last time the FCC publicly released such statistics, it seems to me it's only a matter of time before our death rate outpaces our newcomer rate.

Nope. If that were the case, the numbers would be falling. But they're not.

The truth is that nobody really knows the "average age" nor the "death rate" or anything like that. And we haven't known for many years, because FCC stopped asking for birthdate info.

On top of that, Americans are living longer and, more important, staying active longer than ever before. The 55-year-old empty-nester who gets into ham radio may have 30+ years of hamming ahead of him/her.

And it's THAT element that is present today in the statistics I'm citing that wasn't there when you and I were first licensed.  

How do you know for sure? Do you have age statistics for 1967?


Nobody lives forever, Jim.  

Not even you...or me.

Quote
You've been saying that for a very long time - but our numbers keep on growing. You keep giving us the same "Chicken Little" predictions of doom and gloom, but the numbers keep climbing.

Yes, our "numbers keep on climbing"....for now.  

However, the latest overall stats I've been looking at (particularly those for newly licensed hams and "upgrades) indicate that even our aggregate "growth" rate may very well have peaked.  

And, as I've said before, I hope I'm absolutely, dead wrong on all of these "Chicken Little" predictions.  But, on the other hand, this myopic "all is well" attitude that sweeping regulatory changes to our arcane licensing structure are not needed so as to attract (and keep) many more youthful newcomers than we are now doing may very well prove to be our undoing.

Our "arcane licensing structure" is actually very simple and straightforward. The license requirements are basic and a motivated middle-schooler can earn an Extra. Access to tests and information is easier than ever before.

The growth-limiting factor isn't the license. It's other things, which are much harder to fix.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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N3DF
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« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2012, 07:15:48 AM »


Quote
5) The Extra just isn't that hard.

Perhaps not for someone with a BSEE.  

[/quote]

The Amateur Extra operator license is within the grasp of a motivated high school student.
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Neil N3DF
KB1SF
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« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2012, 07:31:03 AM »

The truth is that nobody really knows the "average age" nor the "death rate" or anything like that. And we haven't known for many years, because FCC stopped asking for birthdate info.

They don't need to. 

Everyone applying for a new, renewed, or upgraded FCC-issued Amateur Radio license these days must list their SSAN (or their FRN number that's originally based on their SSAN) on their NCVEC Form 605s.  And the US Government's SSAN database contains one's birth date.

So they know....and so do the VECs.

When was the last time you looked at an application form, Jim?

Quote
On top of that, Americans are living longer and, more important, staying active longer than ever before. The 55-year-old empty-nester who gets into ham radio may have 30+ years of hamming ahead of him/her.

Perhaps.

And as long as we continue to have "55-year-old empty-nesters" entering the "pipeline", all might be well. 

But, then again, how many youngsters today have even HEARD of amateur radio, let alone tried to jump through all of our systemically discriminatory 1950s-era "hazing rituals" just to get a license that grants them full HF privileges?

And do you HONESTLY believe that by the time those same youngsters turn 50 that their attitude about all that systemically discriminatory nonsense will somehow miraculously change? 

Quote
The growth-limiting factor isn't the license. It's other things, which are much harder to fix.

...in your opinion.

However, in MY opinion, continually putting "needless regulatory barriers" (to use the FCC's own legal term) in front of people... licensing barriers to advancement in our Service that are not in any way based on safety or non-interference concerns...most certainly remains a contributing cause.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF
kb1sf.blogspot.ca
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KB1SF
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« Reply #26 on: June 21, 2012, 08:03:27 AM »


The Amateur Extra operator license is within the grasp of a motivated high school student.

The issue is not "easiness" or "hardness", Neil....it's relevance.

I find it interesting that the term "education" is not mentioned  anywhere in the rules and regulations that govern our Amateur Radio Service internationally.  And any professional educator worth their degree will tell you that there is a vast difference between the content and comprehensiveness of the teaching-learning processes involved in "training" versus "education".

What's more, there is a huge difference in measuring academic achievement (which requires a far deeper working knowledge of the material examined) than simply testing to insure that someone is merely competent to perform a skill or a function.

Unfortunately, right now, by obsessively maintiaing their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense in our Service the FCC is still trying to do the former and the latter.  And, in my humble opinion, they aren't doing a very good job of either.

That's probably because the FCC has traditionally been staffed with a bunch of engineers and lawyers, not educators.  Indeed, my hunch is that most FCC staffers wouldn't have the slightest clue about the basics of human measurement theory and practice...or what's a legally fair and relevant (versus a legally unfair and/or irrelevant) exam if it hit them between the eyes.

But, regardless, the bottom line remains that the FCC's charter from the ITU and the US Congress is to effectively and efficiently put an examination and licensing system in place for our Service that simply provides a reasonable assurance that we are minimally competent to safely and courteously operate our stations with the privileges granted.  Period.

Their job is absolutely NOT (and never has been) to turn us all into budding RF engineers.

Yet, somehow, training people to a minimum standard (consistent with safety and non-interference) in our so-called "Amateur" Radio Service in the United States of America has long since morphed into being "not good enough" according to some of the aging "crusty curmudgeons" in our ranks.

As I've said in previous posts, clearly, the exam for our Tech license needs to be far more comprehensive that it is now.  However, there is simply no regulatory need for the Extra Class license to even be in the mix.

Zip...nada...none.

Now, I suppose if you are already a graduate electrical engineer, the Extra Class license material would be a "snap".  But, once again, it's not the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the test material that matters in determining a US Government examination's legal validity.  It's the relevance and relationship of what's on that test to the (additional) privileges it grants that determines that examination's legality.

And, any way you cut it, friends, it simply does not require a working knowledge of a 600+ page Extra Class license manual (and the successful completion of yet another 50-question exam over material largely related to operating privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees in the US system) to be found uniquely qualified and therefore competent to, for example, operate one's station at 14.024 MHz versus 14.026 MHz.

Unfortunately, for most of us, once we jump through all the FCC's stupid "Extra Class" hoops ourselves, there's no longer a felt need for us to want to change the system for the next poor slob who has to endure the same absolutely baseless, FCC-imposed, Extra Class "hazing rituals" that we all did.

If anything, human nature being what it is, strong feelings of "I did it and so should you" take over and the end result is that absolutely nothing changes.

In fact, I remain convinced that it's this "I've got mine" social phenomenon that is one of the principal reasons why our Service has now devolved into the sociological and technological backwater that we have since become.

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF
kb1sf.blogspot.ca
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 08:09:58 AM by KB1SF » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2012, 05:17:52 AM »

As I've said in previous posts, clearly, the exam for our Tech license needs to be far more comprehensive that it is now.  However, there is simply no regulatory need for the Extra Class license to even be in the mix.

Zip...nada...none.

Then write up a proposal to change things.

Now, I suppose if you are already a graduate electrical engineer, the Extra Class license material would be a "snap".

It should be. Because the Extra exam is far below EE level. It's about middle-school level, really.
Nothing all that difficult in it at all.

If anything, the Extra and General need to be much more comprehensive too.

Look around this and other forums, and you'll see hams with Generals and Extras asking extremely basic "how do I make a dipole?" questions. This doesn't mean they're dumb; it means they just don't know. Often they don't even know the right questions to ask!

Eliminating the Extra won't fix that. It will only make the problem worse.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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KU2US
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« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2012, 08:50:27 AM »

The Advanced class license test I took in 1980 was harder than the extra class test of today! At least thats the way I see it. I have both study guides. Granted, the content is different today because of the addition of digital modes et.et.. I like my 2x2, I will stay where I am..
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KB1SF
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« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2012, 10:35:12 AM »

Look around this and other forums, and you'll see hams with Generals and Extras asking extremely basic "how do I make a dipole?" questions. This doesn't mean they're dumb; it means they just don't know. Often they don't even know the right questions to ask!

Eliminating the Extra won't fix that. It will only make the problem worse.

What "problem"?

Since when has someone asking another Ham a question about the operational aspects of our hobby been a "problem" that needs "fixing"?  

Did YOU know everything there was to know about Ham Radio right after your got your first license?  

And what the heck ever happened to our age-old concept of "Elmering"?  

Unfortunately, such comments are yet another classic example of us "oldsters" requiring our newcomers to look, think and act EXACTLY as we did when we were all first licensed.  

Indeed, back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there WERE no "online forums" where people could ask such "ignorant" questions.  You either pulled the answers out of a book, asked your "Elmer" (usually in a face-to-face conversation) or else you (quickly) learned on your own what happens when you stick your fingers across the RF output of your transmitter with the key down.  

Or, to put it another way, most of our "learning" (and our "ignorant" questioning) back then was done in private and largely out of the public eye because there was no other way to do it.

And all the while we keep looking down our elitist, upturned noses at newcomers who use today's social media and the Internet as their primary sources of information about our Service, the more we will keep turning them "off"...and away...from our hobby.

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF
kb1sf.blogspot.ca
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