Contributed by Samual T. Shoge, Admissions Counselor for Washington College and Appointed Committee Chair for the Government Relations Committee
Apparently, Maryland lawmakers and their staffers really enjoy fried chicken. Or maybe it was because they were so curious to know more about who we are as an organization and what we were advocating for. Regardless, during PCACAC’s Government Relations Committee’s advocacy day in Annapolis, MD on February 20th, committee members met with well over one-hundred legislators and their staffers introducing ourselves and the message of PCACAC and providing a complimentary lunch.
The lawmakers were extremely receptive of our message and praised our organization for the work that we did. When advocating for a reduced student-to-counselor ratio in the public schools, I often asked the younger staffers to think of their college counseling experience to add a different perspective to the conversation. I received very mixed responses ranging from excellent to non-existent. The ones who mentioned that they didn’t have a good experience were quick to mention their counselors were simply over-extended, supporting PCACAC’s initiative of a reduced student-to-counselor ratio.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the NACAC team uncovered Delegate Kaiser’s (D-District 14) legislation that would require schools to have a 1:250 counselor-to-student ratio in the Maryland Public Schools and spend at least 80% of their time providing direct services to students. Titled H.B 571, the proposal was absolute gold as that is the balance NACAC is trying to achieve nationwide based on recommendations from the American School Counselors Association. We used our advocacy day to throw our support behind H.B. 571 and encouraged lawmakers to do the same. We submitted a written testimony to Delegate Kaiser’s office after the event as the bill was scheduled for a committee hearing the very next day.
It is always a pleasure serving in a capacity like this for PCACAC. As the newly appointed chair of the government relations committee, I can say that we will continue to advocate on PCACAC behalf to lawmakers in not only Maryland but Virginia, Delaware, and West Virginia as well. Volunteers are always needed! If you would like to join the GRC and get involved with exciting public policy advocacy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.