Archive for Friday, June 24, 2011

Heard on the Hill: More Kansas state legislators lack college experience than other states; all kinds of Jayhawks are at European-based ESPN America; KU researcher gets mention in Kansas economy story

June 24, 2011


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• I saw some interesting data reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the education level of state legislators.

In Kansas, the Chronicle found that 16 percent of state legislators had no college education at all, making Kansas the state with the third-highest percentage of legislators with no college nationally.

But, as the story pointed out, is that really a problem? After all, the 16 percent of legislators with no college in the state might reflect the fact that 40 percent of all Kansas residents have no college education at all.

And government is supposed to be reflective of the people, right?

On the other hand, isn’t it a good idea to have the people writing our laws be as knowledgeable as possible?

It’s an interesting discussion to have, to be sure.

And, in case you’re wondering, 29 state legislators reported attending KU, as opposed to 24 for Kansas State, 16 for Wichita State, 10 for Fort Hays State, nine for Emporia State and five for Pittsburg State.

• I heard from Andrew Joseph, the KU journalism student whose ESPN America blog I linked to a few posts back.

He told me that not only does he have an internship at the London-based network, so too does Laura Thomas, a fellow broadcast journalism major.

And she has a blog as well.

And, as it turns out, Patrick Sturgeon, the director of ESPN America Programming, is a KU alumnus as well.

So there’s a whole flock of them over there, which is pretty spiffy.

• I spotted Donna Ginther, director of the Center for Economic and Business Analysis at KU, quoted in the Wichita Eagle on a story about how personal income rose 1.9 percent in Kansas.

"It's the one bright spot that we see in what is otherwise a very anemic recovery," Ginther told the newspaper. "A lot of it is driven by the fall in the exchange rate that has driven up exports."

The story said that income is increasing because of a rebound for workers in durable manufacturing, and an increase in military income in the state, citing an added $150 million, likely from the redeployment of soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division back to Fort Riley.

• Don’t tell the online editor, but I keep forgetting to put that little subscribe by email box in Heard on the Hill, but it’s there today, so you should subscribe. And send me a tip at while you’re at it.


Keith Richards 5 years ago

Laura Thomas would make a good TV personality, judging by her blog picture.

Eddie Muñoz 5 years ago

I agree and like how you found a more civilized way of saying, "Dang, she's hot!" :)

Jim Williamson 5 years ago

"And government is supposed to be reflective of the people, right?"

Oh, in Kansas, it is, trust me. And the legislators don't need no nerd who always finished his homework comin' in and screwin' it all up.

"On the other hand, isn’t it a good idea to have the people writing our laws be as knowledgeable as possible?"

Yes. Until George W. Bush came along, I had never experienced a period in my life where I was clearly smarter than our president. I never want to go through that again, although with Gov. Brownbackwards, I think it's deja vu all over again.

"It’s an interesting discussion to have, to be sure."

No, it isn't. At least it shouldn't be. It should be a no-brainer. Sadly, that's what it's become, on a different level. It's no longer a good thing to be smart. Otherwise, explain Sarah Palin's appeal -- aside from the obvious MILF factor.

If you're smart, you're an "elitist" or a "pointy-headed liberal." Apparently, it also makes you a "socialist" now. All them college boys and girls is always a day late and a dollar short, according to the rank and file Kansan. How else do people who want to shoot undocumented aliens or who think pregnancy is the same as prevention auto maintenance get elected to statewide office? Because the average Kansan is not very bright. Yeah, I said it.

Now, see, my blood pressure's elevated for the rest of the day. Damn.

Sigmund 5 years ago

Yeah and that those degrees from Yale and Harvard produced Bush and Obama. I agree with William Buckley who is quoted as saying, "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

Sigmund 5 years ago

The Congressional Research Service notes that the vast majority of Members (95 percent) had an academic degree:

168 Representatives and 57 Senators have a law degree. Of these, five (three Representative and two Senators) also hold a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree.

83 Representatives and 16 Senators earned a master's degree -- often a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) - as their highest educational degree

27 Representatives and one Senator (Mark Begich) have no educational degree beyond a high school diploma.

23 Representatives (but no Senators) have a Ph.D

17 Representatives and three Senators have a medical degree (this number includes one Senator with a veterinary medicine degree and one Representative with a dental degree).

Five Representatives (but no Senators) have an associate's degree as their highest degree. One House Member has a licensed practical nurse (L.P.N.) degree

Hows that been working out for you?

wmathews 5 years ago

See, now that you've told me you're forgetting the subscription inline, I'm going to be on your case about it.

Sigmund 5 years ago

KRichards (anonymous) replies… "You are so dense it is funny."

You may have a point as I have two post graduate degrees from KU! But at least I can recognize ad hominem attack when I see one.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

The lack of college experience and/or a degree doesn't mean an individual is unqualified to be a legislator any more than a degree makes someone qualified. The fact is, there are very few qualifications spelled out by law for becoming an elected politician, and I don't think any of them have anything to do with educational attainment, with the possible exception of judges, DA's attorneys general (does anybody know what the educational requirements are for these positions?)

But for those who didn't go to college, it's perfectly valid for voters to want to know what these people did instead of going to college. There are plenty of other ways to learn about the world, and we should demand of our politicians that they have the drive and the ability to keep themselves informed about it, regardless of how they accomplish it.

Sadly, there is a strong tradition of celebrating willful ignorance, especially among those who like to call themselves "conservatives," and politicians like Sarah Palin and many members of the Kansas Legislature, among many, many others, airing 24/7 on Fox News, reflect that tradition.

devobrun 5 years ago

"On the other hand, isn’t it a good idea to have the people writing our laws be as knowledgeable as possible?"

Legislators don't write laws. They hire lawyers (or lobbyists) to write them. Legislators are supposed to be the people who gauge their constituents, their land, and their own wisdom.

My experience with university professors and the material they teach shows that information and knowledge have only a faint relationship to wisdom.

Wise people are those who have engaged reality. Universities create reality. All those computer models, theories, and pontifications from "experts" have led us into no greater wisdom.

notanota 5 years ago

I won't argue that academia has some serious quirks, but you do come off as Bitter McBitterson when you talk about the ol' ivory tower that didn't fully embrace your mad professorial skillz.

Nobody suggested politicians should be professors or freshly minted grads with no real-world experience. That person suggested our representatives should be knowledgable. Wisdom is the proper application of that knowledge, which usually comes after experience. It's not the job of universities to confer wisdom, as that's something only the individual can attain.

Sigmund 5 years ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (anonymous) says… "Sadly, there is a strong tradition of celebrating willful ignorance, especially among those who like to call themselves "conservatives," and politicians like Sarah Palin and many members of the Kansas Legislature, among many, many others, airing 24/7 on Fox News, reflect that tradition."

Also sadly, there is a strong tradition of celebrating willful ignorance, especially among those who like to call themselves "liberals," and politicians like Maxine Waters and many members of the Kansas Legislature, among many, many others, airing 24/7 on MSNBC, reflect that tradition.

We could play this game all day long, but I am sure we both have work to do. Suffice to say ignorance is not the exclusive purview of any party, educational status, or cable TV viewer.

begin60 5 years ago

It's obvious a lot of Kansans lack education--even in Lawrence. I've never seen such a large number of people suffering from so little information in such a small place. It's scary. I have no faith in the competence of the people running this town or KU. Another danger for the larger community danger is that people from the sticks seem to have been raised as aggressive busybodies with zero political awareness who enjoy imposing their dumb ways of living on others.

In theory, formal education doesn't always matter, but then we have the bright KS lawmakers who think women should plan ahead for rape, just like it's important to think ahead about possibly getting a flat tire. This comment shows a pathetic lack of critical thinking ability, not to mention empathy.

begin60 5 years ago

*Delete "danger" after "community".

bevy 5 years ago

First of all, I am not impressed with many things our Legislature does - in fact a lot of it makes me downright furious. I think Brownback may drag this state down in flames.
However - going to college doesn't mean you're smart. Not going to college doesn't mean you're dumb. There are a lot of stupid people with degrees hanging on their walls, and many smart folks who don't have them. Are you saying that a man who starts his own business right out of high school - or trade school - builds up that business and becomes successful - is not qualified to be a state rep because he doesn't have a degree? Are you saying that a person with a Master's Degree in Poetry is better qualified than the aforementioned business owner because he has a degree? Who has more real-world knowledge?

We are, or have been, primarily an agricultural state. I would imagine there are a lot of farmers (read: businessmen) who never attended college. Yet they are running large, complex business operations with hundreds of thousands of dollars in overhead, equipment, insurance, etc. Are these people not qualified to lead?

As to the poster above who notes how many lawyers we have in Congress right now - thanks for pointing out the reason for our myriad problems! So many of our elected officials have no concept of what life is like for the average American. They come from privileged backgrounds and have never had to struggle to survive. They cannot relate to their constituents, and vice versa. Get over your intellectual snobbery.

verity 5 years ago

"I would imagine there are a lot of farmers (read: businessmen) who never attended college."

While I agree with many of the things you said, I know (not imagine) that there are a lot of farmers (businessmen and businesswomen) who have attended college. Maybe you didn't intend it that way, but your remark is insulting.

A college education and/or advanced degree certainly doesn't mean one has wisdom or even is intelligent, but I have noticed that a college education does tend to give people a broader view of things and the ability to perhaps think outside the box. In part that is because people tend to leave their communities when they go to college and at least spend a few years in a different environment. Hopefully they learn how to think in a rational way and how to gather information. What bothers me, and apparently a lot of other people, is the current degrading of people who are educated.

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