Bryan, while belt systems do have drawbacks, I feel that saying "they don't work" is a very one sided and blanket view. There are plenty of things that DO work in belt systems and plenty of places where they are applied in a positive manner. Jiujitsu is one example, if you meet a black belt, they are qualified, there is no question of that. While many martial arts (for lack of a better term) have perverted these systems, that doesn't mean the systems themselves are bad, just misused. Saying that no form of hierarchy works is in my opinion a very ignorant statement. Most forms of learning are hierarchical. If they don't work for you that may be one thing, but saying that "no form of it works" is simply one sided, black and white.
I'd be interested to hear what people think the positives and negatives are, and how people feel that both classes and certifications should be organized.
Should students be ranked or grouped? If not, how do you teach a group of varying experience and ability and keep the material pertinent for everyone?
Should instructors be ranked or grouped? If so, what should the qualifications be? If not, how do you know when someone is qualified to teach?
I feel that a certification system is most helpful for a beginner to have a comfort level with a teacher, after all, when one starts out, one can't simply look at a teacher and know they are qualified, for that person has no view as to what the "thing" should look like if they are just beginning.