Should there be a prescribed educational standard for entry into politics? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I'm sure many people would disagree, but in my opinion, there should not be an educational requirement for politics.  As strong an advocate as I am for education, I cannot see that it would necessarily make for better political leaders, it would make it impossible for many fine potential leaders, and the very idea is one we are unlikely to find some consensus on, much less enough agreement to amend the Constitution. 

At the present time, we have two presidential candidates who have had good educations, one at the University of Pennsylvania, the other at Wellesley and Yale Law School. Yet the former cannot locate some countries on a map, frequently misuses words, and seems to lack understanding of sophisticated concepts.  An education does not guarantee anything, I think, and we would be foolish to believe it does. This piece of paper, a diploma, does not provide any assurance of anything, I'm afraid. 

There are people who wish to enter politics with only a high school education or perhaps not even that, who do know their geography, speak articulately and intelligently, and can understand a complex idea. They may have been deprived of an educational opportunity because of race or ethnicity. They may not been able to afford to go to school. There are still people who drop out because their wages are needed at home.  In this country in which education is supposed to level the playing field, there are far too many people who are not getting good educations.  An educational standard would be just one more way we divide ourselves into the haves and have-nots.

Let's suppose for a moment that we agreed that there should be an educational requirement.  We are unlikely to ever agree upon what that should be.  It could be a high school diploma, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or even a doctorate.  There are arguments at each level, certainly, if one is going to have a standard at all, but there are risks at each level, too.  To instate this, we would then have to persuade three-quarters of the states to buy in to this, with a majority in each state of its legislators or its people voting for a constitutional amendment. 

It would be nice to think that requiring an education of some sort would provide us with better and more effective politicians.  The reality is that an education does not ensure this, it creates barriers for many people, and it would be nearly impossible to institute. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial