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Is Kern Alexander an Economist? (was An Economist Explains the Problem with Choice)

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  • Richard Hake
    ABSTRACT: In response to my post Economist Kern Alexander Explains the Problem with School Choice at , MathEdCC s Haim at
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 5, 2013
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      ABSTRACT: In response to my post "Economist Kern Alexander Explains
      the Problem with School Choice" at <http://bit.ly/WIdRH5>, MathEdCC's
      "Haim" at <http://bit.ly/UlsV2a>, after quoting information from
      Alexander's faculty profile <http://bit.ly/TBlx14>, which indicated
      that Alexander had no academic degree in economics, stated "KERN
      ALEXANDER IS NOT AN ECONOMIST." [My CAPS.]

      But according to my online dictionary an economist is "an expert in
      economics," and economics is "the branch of knowledge concerned with
      the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth." Among
      Alexander's books as listed at <http://amzn.to/11ikQ0V> are: "Public
      School Finance," "Education and Economic Growth," and "Economic
      Sanctions." Therefore I think that designating Alexander as an
      economist, as did Diane Ravitch and myself, is justified.
      ****************************************************

      If you reply to this long (10 kB) post please don't hit the reply
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      In response to my post "Economist Kern Alexander Explains the Problem
      with School Choice" [Hake (2013)]
      "Haim," in his MathEdCC post, wrote (slightly edited):

      "Kern Alexander, according to his Univ. of Illinois faculty profile
      at <http://bit.ly/TBlx14> has an Ed.D. in Educational Administration
      from Indiana University in 1965; a diploma in Educational Studies
      (with distinction) with two dissertations from Oxford University,
      Pembroke College <http://bit.ly/YyZiYG>, 1977. KERN ALEXANDER IS NOT
      AN ECONOMIST. . . . [[my CAPS]] . . . . ."

      To which GS Chandy (2013), after listing some of Alexander's
      interests and qualifications reported at <http://bit.ly/TBlx14>,
      replied: "I believe [his interests and qualifications] indicate that
      Professor Alexander probably has considerably more right to describe
      himself as an 'economist' than has Haim to pronounce on his economics
      or lack thereof."

      Well said, GS Chandy, except that, as far as I know: (a) Kern
      Alexander has never publicly described himself as an economist (nor
      does Wikipedia <http://bit.ly/VCD4V4>, nor does the Univ. of
      Illinois <http://bit.ly/TBlx14>); (b) it was Diane Ravitch (2013) who
      applied the adjective "economist" to Kern Alexander in her blog entry
      "An Economist Explains the Problem with Choice."

      I think Ravitch was right in her designation, despite the
      protestations of "Haim."

      My online dictionary tells me that an economist is "an expert in
      economics," and that economics is "the branch of knowledge concerned
      with the production, consumption, and transfer of wealth." Amazon.com
      lists at <http://amzn.to/11ikQ0V> six books by Alexander, three with
      titles "Public School Finance," "Education and Economic Growth," and
      "Economic Sanctions, " suggesting that the books concern "the
      production, consumption, and transfer of wealth." Therefore I think
      Alexander qualifies to be classed as an economist, even though he has
      an Ed.D. and (evidently) no formal degree in economics.

      Furthermore, my abstract clearly shows that Kern Alexander addresses
      the problem of school choice from an *economic* standpoint. My
      abstract begins:

      ################################
      ABSTRACT: Diane Ravitch (2013) in her blog entry "An Economist
      Explains the Problem with Choice" at <http://bit.ly/11r9xCJ> has
      pointed to Kern Alexander's "Asymmetric Information, Parental Choice,
      Vouchers, Charter Schools and Stiglitz" at <http://bit.ly/XuBB2u>.
      Alexander wrote:

      **************************
      The story goes that tuition voucher schools and charter schools are
      creatures of the spirit of capitalism and that public funding of them
      will increase competition, making all schools more efficient and
      academically better, especially public schools. For that theory to
      work it is hypothesized that parents as "rational people will make
      choices as to the education of their children in perfect markets." In
      the realm of economics, this reasoning is called the "rational
      expectations hypothesis" or the "efficient markets hypothesis" - see
      "The Myth of the Rational Market"[Fox (2011, p. 178)] at
      <http://amzn.to/Wd4ukl>.
      **************************
      ################################

      Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
      Links to Articles: <http://bit.ly/a6M5y0>
      Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs: <http://bit.ly/9nGd3M>
      Academia: <http://bit.ly/a8ixxm>
      Blog: <http://bit.ly/9yGsXh>
      GooglePlus: <http://bit.ly/KwZ6mE>
      Twitter: <http://bit.ly/juvd52>
      Facebook: <http://on.fb.me/XI7EKm>

      "There is no such thing as economics, only social science applied to
      economic problems."
      - Kenneth Boulding

      REFERENCES [URLs shortened by http://bit.ly/ and accessed on 04 Feb 2013.]
      Alexander, K. 2012. "Asymmetric Information, Parental Choice,
      Vouchers, Charter Schools and Stiglitz," Journal of Education
      Finance, Fall; online at <http://bit.ly/XuBB2u>.

      Brock, J. 2011. Review of Fox (2011), International Review of
      Economics Education 10(1): 130-132; online as a 139 kB pdf at
      <http://bit.ly/Wd5lRY>. Brock wrote: "The book is a masterfully
      documented and engaging history of the rise and the fall of the
      efficient market hypothesis (EMH). The history spans from the early
      20th Century insights of mathematician Louis Bachelier and economist
      Irving Fisher to the recent sparring among economists - notably the
      University of Chicago's Eugene Fama and Dick Thaler.

      Chandy, GS. 2013. "Re: Economist Kern Alexander Explains the Problem
      with School Choice," online on the OPEN MathEdCC archives at
      <http://bit.ly/XjHNJ3>. Post of 03 Feb 3 11:58 PM (the MathForum
      fails to specify he time zone).

      Fox, J. 2011. "The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk,
      Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street." Harper Business, publisher's
      information at <http://bit.ly/WHVh1T>. Amazon.com information at
      <http://amzn.to/Wd4ukl> note the searchable "Look Inside" feature.
      For reviews see Brock (2011) and Krugman (2009).

      "Haim." 2013. "Re: Economist Kern Alexander Explains the Problem with
      School Choice," online on the OPEN MathEdCC archives at
      <http://bit.ly/UlsV2a>. Post of 03 Feb 12:36 AM (the MathForum
      fails to specify he time zone).

      Hake, R.R. 2013. "Economist Kern Alexander Explains the Problem with
      School Choice," online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at
      <http://bit.ly/WIdRH5>. Post of 02 Feb 2013 13:00:30-0800 to AERA-L
      and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being
      transmitted to several discussion lists and are also on my blog
      "Hake'sEdStuff" at <http://bit.ly/We8IrV> with a provision for
      comments.

      Krugman, P. 2009. "School for Scoundrels," review of Fox (2011), New
      York Times Book Review, online at <http://nyti.ms/WdJbiq>. Krugman
      wrote: "Do we really need yet another book about the financial
      crisis? Yes, we do - because this one is different. Instead of
      focusing on the errors and abuses of the bankers, Fox, the business
      and economics columnist for Time magazine, tells the story of the
      professors who enabled those abuses under the banner of the financial
      theory known as the efficient-market hypothesis. Fox's book is not an
      idle exercise in intellectual history, which makes it a must-read for
      anyone who wants to understand the mess we're in. Wall Street bought
      the ideas of the efficient-market theorists, in many cases literally:
      professors were lavishly paid to design complex financial strategies.
      And these strategies played a crucial role in the catastrophe that
      has now overtaken the world economy."

      Ravitch, D. 2013. "An Economist Explains the Problem with Choice,"
      online at <http://bit.ly/11r9xCJ>, entry of 01 February in "Diane
      Ravitch's Blog"<http://dianeravitch.net>.


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