THE RELEVANCE OF PRE-LEGISLATIVE EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT TO LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION IN THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE

MILTON DRUCKER, Fordham University

Abstract

The descriptive dissertation investigated the consequences of differences in educational background and attainment among members of the New York State Legislature. The absence of a common educational preparation program distinguishes legislators from other professionals.^ The subjects are members of the New York State Legislature (N = 210) who participated in the 1981 legislative session. Respondents were analyzed in terms of simple frequency and percent distributions, both for the total response sample as well as for lawyers and non-lawyers separately.^ The objectives of the study were to examine differences in the manner in which liberal arts graduates and lawyer-legislators assemble, interpret and use data in decision-making, staff utilization, the relationship between education and assumption of committee chairmanships. The study sought to determine future educational needs for those contemplating entering public office. Each group was also examined to determine differences that may exist in responding to lobbyists, legislative leadership and constituents.^ Conclusions. (partial) (1) Less than 50% of the liberal arts courses taken by non-lawyers and nearly 25% of the courses taken in law school were deemed to have no value in the legislative context. (2) Lawyers wanted more training in communication, data processing and statistics. Non-lawyers wanted courses in law, finance statistics and journalism. (3) Built into the design of the legislative system are compensating structures for disparities in educational experience. (4) Legislative staffs exercise a high degree of influence on legislation. (5) Non-lawyers examine legislation primarily for impact on constituency. Lawyers examine legislation from the standpoint of clarity of language and intent.^ Recommendations. Information relative to valued courses should be applied to develop specialized programs in political science departments to raise the level of preparation for those who ultimately seek public office.^ A program of continuing education for legislators should be established embodying courses found relevant to the legislative process by this study.^

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

DRUCKER, MILTON, "THE RELEVANCE OF PRE-LEGISLATIVE EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT TO LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION IN THE NEW YORK STATE LEGISLATURE" (1982). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8223596.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8223596

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