Who Serves on the Education Committees?

Reader Vic Nicholls raised an obvious question about the lists we’ve posted recently that show the higher-ed affiliations of state legislators: How about the education committees?

One could reasonably hypothesize that legislators who attended Virginia public colleges and universities are more likely than their peers to participate in the legislative committees that oversee their alma maters. Here, using the same color coding as the table I posted yesterday, I summarize the educational affiliations of the Senate and House members who serve on their respective education committees.


Lo and behold, we find that 61% of the House education committee members attended a public undergraduate college, community college or university versus only 41% for the House as a whole.

Likewise, we find that 40% of the Senate education and health committees attended a public undergraduate college versus 30% of the Senate as a whole.

Those numbers seem to confirm our theory. But let’s drill down by examining the composition of the Senate and House higher education subcommittees.Here, we find that only 50% of House subcommittee members attended a public undergraduate college in Virginia — actually a smaller percentage than the House education committee.

Here, we find that 40% of the Senate subcommittee members attended a public undergraduate college in Virginia — the same percentage as for the committee.

There is no denying that legislators with deeper ties to Virginia public universities serve disproportionately on the House and Senate committees and subcommittees overseeing higher education. But the differences are not dramatic. It would be hard to build a case based on these numbers alone that the General Assembly committee and subcommittee structure are stacked with legislators with a predisposition, as measured by their educational affiliations, in favor of public higher-ed in Virginia.

This quick survey is hardly the final word. It would be interesting to see if these committee members maintain strong ties with their Virginia alma maters. Do they contribute to fund-raising campaigns? Do they attend football and basketball games? Do they participate in alumni events? Do they serve on university boards or committees? Do they serve large higher-ed constituencies in their districts? One can always dig deeper.

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2 responses to “Who Serves on the Education Committees?

  1. I think digging deeper to see who those people influence makes a difference. You know doggone well the lobbyists know who is the committees and who knows the ‘song and dance’.

  2. isn’t this kind of a shallow concept?

    just because someone goes to College does not necessarily mean they support more or less funding for higher ed. no?

    it sort of denigrates the concept that as people grow in their knowledge and experience and do exercise more than just some perceived blind loyalty.

    higher ed funding from govt is a conundrum now days and there seems to be a bit of disconnect between those who think k-12 education is too expensive and needs vouchers.. and their views toward higher ed which don’t follow the same tact.

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