Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc. #00166

Submission Number:
John Ralph
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
Matter Number:


As part of the FTC's consent decree, the Music Teacher's National Association has agreed to remove from their bylaws a policy that DISCOURAGES (not prohibits) teachers from "poaching" one another's students. This policy is consistent with the ethics policies of many other professional associations, such as doctors or lawyers. Further, membership in MTNA is neither required nor necessary to be successful as a private music teacher. Rather, membership is completely voluntary and is intended as an enhancement to one's career by providing ongoing education and opportunities to interact with other members of the profession. In taking action against the MTNA, one would assume that the FTC believed it necessary to enforce "fair trade" among private music teachers. In terms of the impact to the national economy or the livelihood of music teachers in general, the action by the FTC and the resulting consent decree descends below the level of ridiculous, and invites only pity for the personnel of the Commission who were responsible for it. The only conclusion one can draw from the FTC's action is that the MTNA policy was a restriction on free trade, with the potential to cause irreparable harm to music teachers in general. Given that the membership of MTNA is only a fraction of the total population of music teachers in the US, it seems highly unlikely that such harm could occur. Prior to taking action, it should be incumbent on the FTC to provide specific examples showing that the MTNA's policy either did or would in some way cause ECONOMIC HARM or RESTRICT FREE TRADE. The bottom line is that the MTNA's policy statement was intended as a reinforcement of professional ethics. Apparently, the FTC has either chosen to ignore or has no understanding of how professional ethics works. In the U.S. spirit of free and open competition, there are always students changing teachers and the MTNA policy in no way restricted such actions. Rather, the policy DISCOURAGED teachers from actively recruiting students of another teacher. This action by the FTC against MTNA epitomizes government bureaucracy "gone wild".