Loury Likely Nominee For E.D. Undersecretary

By Robert Rothman — March 25, 1987 3 min read
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President Reagan is expected to nominate Glenn C. Loury, a prominent black scholar known as a critic of racial quotas in affirmative action, to be Undersecretary of Education, an Administration official said last week.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Loury, professor of political economy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, would become one of the highest-ranking blacks in the Reagan Administration. He would succeed Gary L. Bauer, who last month left the Education Department’s number-two post to become Mr. Reagan’s chief domestic-policy adviser.

The White House is likely to announce the nomination in a few weeks, after completing a routine check of Mr. Loury’s background, according to the official.

Mr. Loury last week declined to discuss the possible appointment, saying he had not yet heard from the White House.

‘Self-Help’ Proponent

According to several people who have worked closely with him, Mr. Loury is not considered an ideologue, even though he has espoused positions identified as conservative. In particular, he has urged blacks to abandon the “civil-rights strategy’’ of relying solely on legal remedies, such as affirmative action, to overcome discrimination. Instead, he has maintained in a number of articles, they should rely more on “self-help’’ methods of advancement.

In arguing against the imposition of racial quotas for admission at the elite Boston Latin School, Mr. Loury wrote in The New Republic in October 1985: “By what calculus of fairness can those claiming to be fighting for justice argue that outstanding white students, many from poor homes themselves, ... should be denied the opportunity for this special education so that minority students who are not prepared for it may nonetheless enroll?’'

“Is there so little faith in the aptitude of the minority young people that the highest standards should not be held out for them?’' he asked.

“It would seem,’' he concluded, “that the real problem here--a dearth of academically outstanding black high-school students in Boston--is not amenable to rectification by court order.’'

At the same time, Mr. Loury has also endorsed the principle of federal involvement in education.

“In the areas of education, employment training, and provision of minimal subsistence to the impoverished, the government must be involved,’' he wrote in The Christian Century in April of last year.

“Some of the most innovative and useful private efforts are sustained by public funds,’' he said. “There are publicly supported programs--preschool education, for one--which are expensive, but which research has shown pay an even greater dividend.’'

‘Not an Ideologist’

Editors at two political journals for which Mr. Loury has written praised his intellectual qualities.

“He is a first-class mind,’' Irving Kristol, editor of The Public Interest, said last week. “He is a good economist, and he understands politics.’'

“In some ways, he is a neo-conservative, although not an aggressive one,’' Mr. Kristol said. “He takes the political situation and sociological realities into account.’'

Mr. Loury “is not an ideologist, despite the way he’s been picked up by ideologists,’' added Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic. “He’s quite a practical man.’'

Born in Chicago, Mr. Loury, 39, dropped out of the Illinois Institute of Technology to take a job as a factory clerk to support his wife and child. He later took classes at a local junior college and won a minority scholarship to Northwestern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He earned his Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He taught economics at Northwestern and the University of Michigan, and has taught at Harvard since 1982.

A version of this article appeared in the March 25, 1987 edition of Education Week as Loury Likely Nominee For E.D. Undersecretary


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