Monday, March 30, 2009

The Tour Guide Needs a License

The first words I heard this morning were that the Wall Street Journal carried an article of interest to our Friends of 1776. Since Friends are probably interested in Philadelphia at the time of the American Revolution, it’s significant that revolution has not left that city.

Here is the gist of the front page article Philadelphia Tour Guides Say Licensing Quiz Treads on Them: After hearing that tour guides around City Hall were telling the public some really outrageous errors, the City Council decided that tour guides would have to take a quiz, pass 65% of 150 questions, and get a license.

Tour guides have not taken kindly to this decision. The issue is now in federal court. There is an injunction again starting the quizzing. The City Council, it’s argued, had infringed on free speech and therefore the Constitution. This is serious.

I think much of the furor has more to do with having to take a test rather than free speech. Who wants to take a test? Recently, I renewed a professional license and I felt imminent death before it was all over.

I must say passing with a 65% is not an excessive requirement. Most times, the figure is at least 70%.

Question, which tour guides are included? Gray Line? I’ve taken a few of those tours and will only assume that what I was told was accurate. Of course, if the city pays or officially designates the guides, that’s a different matter. One expects accurate information here.

I would enjoy such a tour, also for other revolutionary cities such as Boston.

The need for historical accuracy is always critical.

Truth may hurt, but there’s no substitute. –Renata Breisacher Mulry

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