Gary K. Hart

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For other people named Gary Hart, see Gary Hart (disambiguation).

Gary K. Hart (born 1943) is an American politician and education activist in southern California.

Early life and education[edit]

He was born August 13, 1943, in San Diego, California, and graduated from Santa Barbara High School. He entered Stanford University on a football scholarship, spent six months based in Florence under Stanford's auspices, and graduated in History in 1965. He earned an M.A. from Harvard School of Education the next year.

Political career[edit]

Running as a Democrat, he lost campaigns for the United States House of Representatives (1970) and the California State Assembly (1972) but later won an Assembly seat (1974), succeeding incumbent Republican Don MacGillivray, who ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate. In 1982, he ran for the California State Senate and won, narrowly defeating Republican state Assemblyman Charles R. Imbrecht, whose wife would, coincidentally, go on to be a History teacher in Hart's PACE program (see below). Hart served in both houses of the Legislature for a total of 20 years, having chaired the Senate Education Committee from 1983 until his retirement in 1994. In 1988, he had made another run for Congress but narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Bob Lagomarsino.


Hart's State Senate district included portions of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties. A former high school teacher and a Democrat, Hart authored a wide range of legislation on education topics, including performance-based student testing, school restructuring, charter schools, and latch key child care programs. He was voted most ethical California legislator by his peers and as such appeared on the cover of California Journal.


After his retirement from the Legislature, he founded the California State University Institute for Education Reform, located on the CSU Sacramento campus. The Institute promotes education reform efforts aimed at improving pupil academic achievement. Hart also served as the California Secretary of Education for Governor Gray Davis from January 1999 through March 2000. His principal responsibility as Secretary for Education was helping craft and pass the Governor's 1999 education reform program. Most recently, he has created and taught in the Program in America and California Explorations (PACE), an innovative core humanities initiative at Kennedy High School in Sacramento.

California Assembly
Preceded by
John Briggs
California State Assemblyman, 35th District
Succeeded by
Jack O'Connell
California Senate
Preceded by
Omer L. Rains
California State Senator, 18th District
Succeeded by
Jack O'Connell

External links[edit]