A Visit To Our Nation’s Capitol

Rifle-armed secret service perched atop buildings? Hidden underground trams between offices? Political power lunches on Capitol Hill? Although these all sound like elements of a Bourne novel in actuality they are all part of everyday life for those who work on the Hill in Washington D.C.

On Monday, March 5, 2012, NACAC hosted a day of advocacy in which several members of IACAC were able to participate. IACAC President Laura Docherty, President-Elect Todd Burrell, and Government Relations chairs Anne Kremer, Bill Morrison, and Robert Zigmund represented our state’s affiliate and met with a total of seven offices of the House and Senate. The advocacy event was preceded by a day of meetings hosted by the National Government Relations Committee and included presentations by NACAC, the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee as well as The Education Trust, a D.C.-based advocacy group whose efforts are geared towards advancing educational opportunities for students from pre-kindergarten through college.

The National Government Relations Committee is currently focused on six major policy areas, all of which were discussed during the meeting and then later presented to the members of the House and Senate offices. The main points are divided between two agendas: the college access agenda and the student protection agenda. The college access agenda promotes:

  1. Access to quality counseling,
  2. Need-based financial aid, and
  3. Rigorous curriculum for all students.

Laura DochertyThe student protection agenda promotes:

  1. The protection of students in the admission process,
  2. The protection of student borrowers, and
  3. Tthe protection of taxpayer dollars.

This second agenda has been created more recently by the National Committee and aims to regulate college admission activities such as incentive compensation, misrepresentation of information to students, the promotion of private loans over federal loans, and more.

The members of the House and Senate offices were all receptive to the goals that were presented and some even solicited the assistance of NACAC and IACAC to help promote these agenda items even further. Coincidentally, several house and senate members were former teachers and professors and continue to hold education as a top priority. The majority of the meetings were conducted by legislative assistants who have education policy as a part of their work; these assistants were attentive, engaged and appreciated the NACAC documents and folders that were left with their offices. NACAC Government Relations members made it known to attendees that it is unlikely any major education legislation will pass prior to the November elections. The conversations with government aides were geared toward including provisions from the Pathways to College Act into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization.

While definitely not as dramatic as a Bourne novel, the time spent with House and Senate members was educational and impactful.

Bob Zigmund
Government Relations Committee Co-Chair
Saint Ignatius College Prep

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