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22 May 2012

Sunlight Foundation Says Four GA Lawmakers Speak at a Middle School Grade Level

National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story Monday that talked about the speaking abilities of federal lawmakers.

. . . the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.

In 2005, Congress spoke at an 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Now, it's 10.6. In other words, Congress dropped from talking like juniors to talking like sophomores.

Flesch-Kincaid equates higher grade levels with longer sentences and words with more syllables.

Keith, Tamara (2012-5-21). Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th-Graders, Analysis Shows. National Public Radio. Retrieved on 2012-5-22.


Many members of Georgia's congressional delegation don't even speak at a 10th-grade level.

John Lewis, Dean of the Delegation, speaks at a 7th-grade level. Three other Congressmen --Rob Woodall, Tom Graves, and Jack Kingston-- speak at an 8th-grade level. Paul Broun speaks at a 9th-grade level.

Congressman Hank Johnson, who made headlines in 2010 when he suggested Guam could tip over and capsize due to overpopulation, received the highest ranking of all Georgia's congressmen. Johnson speaks at a 14th-grade level.

When asked of his low ranking, Woodall told NPR, "My mother will probably be embarrassed to hear this news, but I'm glad to know I'm not obfuscating our challenges with words that are too complicated."

Below are the speech level rankings for the Georgia congressional delegation: