The Corner

Bob Lerner, R.I.P.

Writers need sources, and one of my go-to guys for number crunching was Robert Lerner. He was an academic statistician who didn’t shy away from some of the most controversial subjects in public life: racial preferences, gay adoption, abstinence eduction, etc. If you’ve ever read one of the Center for Equal Opportunity’s excellent reports on college admissions, chances are you’ve encountered his work. Bob’s willingness to tackle these issues and speak his mind came with a political and professional price. When President Bush nominated him to become commissioner of education statistics, an assortment of left-wing groups howled. Ted Kennedy went into battle mode. Eventually, Bob accepted a recess appointment. He later served at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. For years, he struggled with a variety of health problems. On Friday, he died, leaving behind his wife Althea (also a statistician) and his son Josh (a college student with a bright future).

The conservative movement is full of unsung heroes. Bob was one of them. Say a prayer for him and his family today.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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