Date: Feb 4, 2013 10:57 PM
Author: Richard Hake
Subject: Is Kern Alexander an Economist?(was An Economist Explains the<br> Problem with Choic")

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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 <> 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 <>, 1977. KERN ALEXANDER IS NOT
AN ECONOMIST. . . . [[my CAPS]] . . . . ."

To which GS Chandy, after listing some of Alexander's interests and
qualifications reported at <>, 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

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 <>, nor does the Univ. of
Illinois <>); (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."
lists at <> 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 <> has
pointed to Kern Alexander's "Asymmetric Information, Parental Choice,
Vouchers, Charter Schools and Stiglitz" at <>.
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

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: <>
Links to Socratic Dialogue Inducing (SDI) Labs: <>
Academia: <>
Blog: <>
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Twitter: <>
Facebook: <>

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

REFERENCES [URLs shortened by 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 <>.

Brock, J. 2011. Review of Fox (2011), International Review of
Economics Education 10(1): 130-132; online as a 139 kB pdf at
<>. 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
<>. 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 <>. information at
<> 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
<>. 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
<>. 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 <> with a provision for

Krugman, P. 2009. "School for Scoundrels," review of Fox (2011), New
York Times Book Review, online at <>. 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 <>, entry of 01 February in "Diane
Ravitch's Blog"<>.