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Ron Unz - Biography

Ronald Keeva Unz, (born 1961 in North Hollywood) is a former businessman and political activist, best known for an unsuccessful race in 1994 for the governorship of California, and for sponsoring propositions promoting structured English immersion education. In March 2007, The American Conservative named him its new publisher. Unz has also been a large financial supporter of Wikipedia.

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Education

While in high school in 1977, Unz studied astronomy at the Summer Science Program.

Unz attended Harvard University, earning a bachelor of science in physics, then went to Stanford University to do doctoral work in theoretical physics, which he never completed.

Career

Unz worked in the banking industry writing software for mortgage securities during his studies, and founded a company called Wall Street Analytics in Palo Alto, CA. In 2006 his company was acquired by the ratings firm Moody's.

Politics

Unz made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for Governor of California in 1994. He received 707,431 votes (34.3 percent), most of which was considered protest vote against the incumbent Pete Wilson, who won the primary with 1,266,832 (61.4 percent). Newspapers referred to Unz's candidacy as a Revenge of the Nerds and often quoted his claim of a 214 IQ.

In 1994, Unz opposed California Proposition 187 to deny social services to illegal immigrants, passed by 58.8% of the voters but later overturned by a federal court. Unz said at the time that "Silicon Valley ... is absolutely dependent upon immigrant professionals to maintain its technological edge. If they left or their future inflow were cut off, America's computer industry would probably go with them."

Four years later, in 1998, he sponsored California Proposition 227, which aimed to change the state's bilingual education to an opt-in structured English language educational system and which was approved by the voters despite opposition from language education researchers. Ostensibly, Proposition 227 did not end bilingual education, as special exemptions were made for students to remain in an English immersion class if a parent so desires. However, there were limits (such as age restrictions) for such an exemption, and moreover, there were provisions for punishing teachers that refused to teach solely or predominantly in English.


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