Our State Legislators Get A+ in College Degrees

California leads the nation in the percent of state legislators who are college graduates, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education study. State Sen. Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Rich Gordon have degrees in multiples.

California's legislature may have earned an F in budget-setting in recent years, but it's first in the class when it comes to having college degrees.

A Chronicle of Higher Education study reports that California leads the nation in the percentage of state legislators who are college graduates. The survey found that 89.9 percent of California representatives have at least one degree, compared to last-place New Hampshire with 53.4 percent. (Possibly relevant is that California's 120 legislators are full-time, while New Hampshire's 424 are part-time.)

Our two legislators from state Senate District 11 and state Assembly District 21 hold multiple degrees. 

State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has a bachelor's degree, with academic honors, from The Colorado College. Then the list, taken from his official biography, really begins: He holds a Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies from Stanford University, a Master's degree in City Planning degree from the University of California-Berkeley, and a Juris Doctor law degree from UC-Berkeley. The 11th District includes San Carlos, Redwood City, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, Stanford, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Campbell, Santa Cruz, Capitola, and a third of San Jose.

Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) graduated from the University of Southern California. Additionally he has a Masters in Divinity from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. The Menlo Park resident's district includes San Carlos, Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, Los Gatos, and the Almaden Valley of San Jose.

The largest source of college degrees for California legislators is UCLA (13 members of the legislature), followed by UC Berkeley (9), UC Davis and Harvard tied for third and fourth (7), and UC Santa Barbara (6).

New York ranked fourth in the country, with 86.8 percent of its 212 full-time legislators holding at least a bachelor's degree. New York outpaced California in the percent with college education beyond a bachelor's, 56 percent compared to 48.

Below are the Chronicle of Higher Education's lists of the top five and bottom five states in the nation, followed by the top 10 sources of degrees for California legislators.

Top 5 States:

1. California            89.9% 2. Virginia 88.6% 3. Nebraska 87.3% 4. New York 86.8% 5. Texas 86.2%

Bottom 5 States:

46. Arkansas 60.4% 47. New Mexico 59.7% 48. Delaware 59.7% 49. Maine 58% 50. New Hampshire 53.4%

Where California's 120 state legislators went to college:

1. UCLA 13 2. UC Berkeley 9 3. UC Davis 7 4. Harvard 7 5. UC Santa Barbara  6 6. San Diego State 5 7. Cal State Fresno 5 8. Univ. of Southern California  5 9. UC Riverside 4 10. San Jose State 4


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