Advocacy Day in Springfield
Members of IACAC and ISCA met with Governor Pat Quinn
to discuss the MAP Grant and counselor ratios for students in Illinois.
From left to right: Dan Stasi, Executive Director for ISCA, Illinois Mental Health Counselors Association, Coalition of Illinois Counseling Organizations PAC; Robert Freitag, St. Charles North High School, IACAC Government Relations Committee Member; Governor Pat Quinn; William Morrison, Highland Park High School, IACAC Government Relations Committee Co-Chair; Sam Stover, Beloit College; Erin Mason, De Paul University, President Elect-Elect for ISCA; Laura Docherty, Fenwick High School, President-Elect for IACAC
On Thursday March 3rd, members of the Government Relations Committee (GRC) partnered with members of the Illinois School Counselors Association (ISCA) in a Springfield Advocacy Day. This annual event has grown in size each year. This year was no exception, with approximately sixty counseling professionals and graduate students in attendance. The agenda for the day included a brunch where participants were trained on how to speak with legislators and a visit to the hill where members of both organizations met with legislators at the capitol and in their offices. In addition, a core group of members representing the two organizations had a meeting with Governor Quinn. This is the second year in a row that IACAC had an opportunity to meet with the Governor, a definite sign of growing name recognition in Springfield (many thanks to President-Elect Laura Docherty for arranging the meeting!).
In past years, Advocacy Day has been about promoting new programming and legislative action items. As one might guess, this year was very different. The goal this year for the group was to work on maintaining funding levels for programs important to our organization. Funding for higher education and financial aid were the two main topics of discussion in our meetings with the governor, as well as the individual legislators. There has been plenty of discussion on further cuts to these two areas, cuts that Illinois families and the state simply cannot afford. One proposal included limiting M.A.P. funding to public institutions only, something to which IACAC is opposed. Although it’s believed that these proposals do not have much traction, it’s important to gain perspective as to the types of ideas currently being considered. Now, more than ever, it’s important that IACAC members play an active role in the formation of policy for the students, families, and institutions we serve.
In addition to the Springfield Advocacy Day, GRC Chair Bill Morrison and President-Elect Laura Docherty spent the following weekend in Washington, D.C. as part of NACAC’s National Action Week. They joined Presidents and GRC chairs from 23 NACAC affiliates in promoting our national organization’s political agenda for the new Congress. Funding levels were also a matter of great concern in these meetings, as there has been talk of cuts to Pell, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (S.E.O.G.), and Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (L.E.A.P.) grants as part of President Obama’s new budget. In addition, NACAC staff is working on inclusion of some of the aspects of the Pathways to College Success Act into Title I funding and are important promoters of a student protection bill that would limit the predatory practices of for-profit institutions. Bill and Laura met with the legislative aides in charge of educational issues for Senators Durbin and Kirk and Representatives Dold and Lapinski. All were very receptive to the ideas put forth and the government relations committee looks forward to working with them in the future.
Highland Park High School
Government Relations Committee Co-Chair