Educated Legislation

Ever wonder how educated your legislators are? The Chronicle of Higher Education looked at 7,400 state representatives, of whom 74.7% have a bachelor’s degree or higher and 25.3% have not completed college. California, followed by Virginia, Nebraska, New York, and Texas ranked highest in educational attainment, with more than 86% of their legislators holding a college degree while Arkansas, New Mexico, Delaware, Maine, and New Hampshire were in the bottom 5. In a handful of cases, legislators on education committees do not hold college degrees, which begs the question: Are college degrees important for lawmakers? If so, how does it affect policy- and decision- making?

The Chronicle of Higher Education asked several experts to weigh in. The consensus was that college degrees should not be a prerequisite in electing legislators; some of the most exceptional intellectuals never even finished high school. Other factors contribute to success in a public office. Still, they strongly believe in the benefits of higher education to individuals and society. They singled out college’s place in instilling an appetite for learning and an emphasis on critical analysis of complex information useful in making well-informed decisions that have a positive impact in the long run.

To learn more about state legislators’ educational attainment, click here.


Author: Nandhini Gulasingam

Nandhini Gulasingam is a Senior Analyst for IT Solutions at the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) where she manages GIS, database, web development projects for the SSRC and is developing data visualization techniques for use in the social and behavioral sciences. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Geography where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

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