School & District Management

Education Expert Nominated as Top White House Economist

By Sarah D. Sparks — August 29, 2011 1 min read
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President Obama today nominated labor economist Alan B. Krueger to be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, as part of the White House’s strategy to boost job creation. He is a Princeton University economist who has been vocal on some hot-button education topics, from class sizes to vouchers.

Krueger served as assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist at the U.S. Treasury Department from 2009-10, and was chief economist for the U.S. Labor Department from 1994-95. He also served as chief economist at the Council for Economic Education, which promotes economics and financial literacy in schools, from 2003-09.

While his work has generally centered on labor issues, he has studied the effectiveness of various education issues and the impact of education choices on students’ long-term earnings. Among the studies:

College attendance: In June 2011, Krueger found that for black and Hispanic students and for those from less-educated families, attending a highly selective college significantly improved their lifetime earnings, while college selectivity had little effect on the long-term outcomes for other students. In a 2004 analysis, he had found that without affirmative action admissions policies, increasing the number of black students at the most selective colleges will require substantial narrowing of the K-12 test score gap between black and white students.

Vouchers: In a 2003 study of New York City’s voucher program, Krueger found, contrary to other studies at the time, no significant advantage for students using vouchers to attend private schools.

Class size: In a 2001 study, he found that small class sizes in kindergarten through 3rd grade reduced the black-white achievement gap.

“As one of this country’s leading economists, Alan has been a key voice on a vast array of economic issues for more than two decades,” President Obama said in a statement. “Alan understands the difficult challenges our country faces, and I have confidence that he will help us meet those challenges as one of the leaders on my economic team.”

If the Senate confirms Mr. Krueger, he will replace outgoing CEA chairman Austan Goolsbee, who is returning to the University of Chicago.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.