The Autumn issue of City Journal, a highly-regarded public policy quarterly published by the free-market Manhattan Institute, contained a fascinating conflict of visions. One short article by Sol Stern reiterated much of the standard case for educational vouchers, a mainstay of most free-market think tanks and conservative educational reformers. The piece correctly focused on growing... Read More
I very much appreciated the excellent article by Howard Husock, describing the dreadful failure of our system of public housing vouchers. Mr. Husock convincingly suggests that an ideological fixation with naive "free market mechanisms" led conservatives to create a mammoth governmental program which has done little or nothing for the poor while seriously damaging portions... Read More
Originally proposed by Economics Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman in 1955, educational vouchers and related types of school choice have increasingly become the main focus of conservative education- reformers, as attractive to parochial-school Christian conservatives as to free-market libertarians. In the past year, some prominent liberal journalists, such as Matt Miller writing in The Atlantic and... Read More
In an effort to find common political ground on the vexing issue of public school reform, The Nation passes on to its readers a set of provocative proposals from Ron K. Unz. A conservative Republican who ran in the 1994 primary against California Governor Pete Wilson, Unz campaigned strongly against that year's anti-immigrant Prop 187.... Read More
As the hot-button political issue of the 1998 election, educational reform has inspired a host of political proposals, ranging from the foolish to the ridiculous. Unfortunately, political sloganeering makes doubtful public policy, and if incoming California Gov. Gray Davis and his weakened Republican opposition actually hope to do something about our poorly performing school system,... Read More
A theoretical physicist by training, Mr. Unz serves as founder and chairman of UNZ.org, a content-archiving website providing free access to many hundreds of thousands of articles from prominent periodicals of the last hundred and fifty years. From 2007 to 2013, he also served as publisher of The American Conservative, a small opinion magazine, and had previously served as chairman of Wall Street Analytics, Inc., a financial services software company which he founded in New York City in 1987. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Stanford University, and is a past first-place winner in the Intel/Westinghouse Science Talent Search. He was born in Los Angeles in 1961.
He has long been deeply interested in public policy issues, and his writings on issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and social policy have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Nation, and numerous other publications.
In 1994, he launched a surprise Republican primary challenge to incumbent Gov. Pete Wilson of California, running on a conservative, pro-immigrant platform against the prevailing political sentiment, and received 34% of the vote. Later that year, he campaigned as a leading opponent of Prop. 187, the anti-immigration initiative, and was a top featured speaker at a 70,000 person pro-immigrant march in Los Angeles, the largest political rally in California history to that date.
In 1997, Mr. Unz began his “English for the Children” initiative campaign to dismantle bilingual education in California. He drafted Prop. 227 and led the campaign to qualify and pass the measure, culminating in a landslide 61% victory in June 1998, effectively eliminating over one-third of America’s bilingual programs. Within less than three years of the new English immersion curriculum, the mean percentile test scores of over a million immigrant students in California rose by an average of 70%. He later organized and led similar initiative campaigns in other states, winning with 63% in the 2000 Arizona vote and a remarkable 68% in the 2002 Massachusetts vote without spending a single dollar on advertising.
After spending most of the 2000s focused on software projects, he has recently become much more active in his public policy writings, most of which had appeared in his own magazine.