Which State Has the Most-Educated Lawmakers?

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As more and more jobs require bachelor’s or even master’s degrees, it’s comforting to know that there’s one place you can succeed without the benefit of a college education:  government.

According to an extensive survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the 7,400 people who make up our states’ legislatures have a varied set of educational credentials. Expectedly, the state legislators are a more diverse and populist bunch than their Congressional counterparts. About one in four lawmakers at the state level lack a college degree. When the Chronicle asked state legislators about their educational backgrounds, a few listed themselves as “self-educated,” or students of the “School of Life,” or — most frighteningly — “gun school.” For comparison, 75 percent of U.S. senators have advanced degrees; more than half of them are lawyers.

How does Maryland stack up? As you might’ve guessed, our state legislators are more educated than average. Fourteen percent have no/some college, a third have a bachelor’s, and 52 percent have an advanced degree — 11 percentage points more than the national average. (The national average for state lawmakers, that is; nationwide, 28 percent of adults have bachelor’s degrees.) In other words, 97.4 percent of lawmakers have at least some college in their background — the second highest rate in the country, in fact. (South Carolina beats us, barely, with 97.7 percent.) The most popular school in our state house is, unsurprisingly, the University of Maryland at College Park, where 31 of them got their degrees.

The states with the least-educated legislatures? New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, New Mexico, and Arkansas. Hopefully they all went to the school of life instead.



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  1. Somehow, I am not dismayed at this news. I think I would rather have more plumbers and farmers in the legislature and fewer real estate brokers and lawyers. College degrees are not a guarantee of rationality or even capability. Mostly, it means you could sit in a classroom for long enough (and pay the tuition) to accumulate the points – I mean, credits – so you could march down the aisle. We are swamped in our economy with folks holding a degree in something or other, who are incapable of stringing together ten words to make a sentence, much less put together three thoughts to arrive at a conclusion. Logic is not required, nor proficiency at a skill; just persistence and tuition. Spare me from laws written by such as those. – – – But I must agree, “gun school” is scary.

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