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Obama Names His Pick for Statistics Chief ... Finally

At long last, President Obama has named his choice for the long-empty post of commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics. It's Jack Buckley, a protege of Mark Schneider, the statistics agency's former chief.

Buckley is currently an associate professor of applied statistics at New York University. But he served as deputy commissioner at the statistics agency under Schneider and, prior to that gig, was one of the former statistics czar's graduate students at State University of New York at Stony Brook. The two also co-authored a book, Charter Schools: Hope or Hype?, which was published in 2007 and makes a case for holding charter schools more accountable.

Buckley, who is also affiliated with the National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, also has some impressive non-education credentials as a Harvard man and a six-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. In the Navy, he served as a surface warfare officer and a nuclear reactor engineer.

"He's one of the smartest people I've ever met," Schneider said in a telephone interview this morning. "He has an ear for the music—the key to making statistics understandable or finding the important story line—and that's a gift."

The nomination doesn't come a minute too soon. The agency hasn't had a permanent director since Schneider left in November 2008. It's led now by acting commissioner Stuart Kerachsky. But the wait isn't over yet. Buckley's nomination still must be confirmed by the Senate, which could mean another long wait.

Then again, the folks at NCES are used to being without a permanent leader. Before Schneider came, the post hadn't been occupied (officially) since 1999.

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