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CEO Update: NACAC’s Public Policy Decisions

By Joyce E. Smith, NACAC CEO

Joyce e smith

If you are a regular visitor to the newsroom section of NACAC’s website, you may have noticed an increase in the number of policy statements that the association has posted in recent weeks. Since the beginning of the new presidential administration, we have shared several public statements on issues ranging from the President’s executive order on immigration to the new Education Secretary’s priorities. We have expressed these positions on our own and in collaboration with other organizations.

All this activity has generated questions from NACAC members about how and when we decide to take a policy position. What is the process? Who decides? And what criteria are used to make a decision? I hope this message provides some answers.

The foundation for all our policy positions is the NACAC Statement of Principles of Good Practice, which articulates the association’s core values, member conventions, and standards for professional conduct. When members agree to follow the SPGP, they commit to our shared ideals, such as fairness, equity, and social responsibility.

To help us translate our foundational principles into specific policies, the NACAC Board of Directors and staff rely on the Government Relations Committee, which is tasked by the Board with providing guidance and support for advocacy efforts on federal and state policy issues pertaining to college admission counseling and student transition to postsecondary education. The Government Relations Committee is, in turn, informed by the Affiliate Government Relations committees, particularly on matters relating to state legislation. On issues relating to international education, the Government Relations Committee consults with the International Initiatives Committee.

To set our agenda, we rely on a set of policy frameworks approved by the Board of Directors to establish NACAC’s domestic and international priorities. (The Board most recently approved the international policy framework in February 2016.) Specific legislative and policy initiatives are based on those frameworks, which are implemented by NACAC staff under the guidance of the Government Relations Committee. Learn more about our legislative and policy positions. 

Occasionally, a matter may arise that is tangential to the policy frameworks, presenting a potential new issue for NACAC that requires staff to check with leadership. In these cases, staff may consult with the Government Relations Committee, the Board, or the NACAC president before expressing a position.

At all times, NACAC staff and leadership remain open to comments, questions, and recommendations from the NACAC membership about new or existing policy priorities.

In brief, when there is public debate over new laws, regulations, or policies affecting students or the college admission process that are introduced by federal, state, or local governments, it may be appropriate for NACAC to join the discussion. For us to express our public support or opposition, staff first refers to our foundational principles in the SPGP as well as to our established policy frameworks. Depending on the issue, we might also look for additional direction from the Government Relations Committee and the NACAC Board of Directors.

Finally, it is important to remember that NACAC cannot and should not take a position in every debate. Our approach is to take part only when the issue under discussion clearly involves college admission counseling and student transition to postsecondary education – and only when the issue touches upon our core values.

Thank you for your commitment to these shared values. And thank you for all you do every day for your students and your colleagues.

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