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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 attended Harvard University, earning a bachelor of science in physics. He went to Stanford University to do doctoral work in theoretical physics. 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.

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).[1] Newspapers referred to Unz's candidacy as a Revenge of the Nerds and often quoted his outlandish claim to a 214 IQ.[2][3][4][5]

In 1994, Unz opposed California Proposition 187 to deny legal services to illegal immigrants, passed by 58.8% of the voters but later overturned by a federal court.[6] 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."[7]

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[8] despite opposition from language education researchers[9]. 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[10].

Unz is the largest non-anonymous individual donor to the Wikimedia Foundation for the year which began on July 1, 2008.[11]


  1. ^ "1994 Statement of Vote". California Secretary of State.  
  2. ^ 'Nerds' seek revenge in Californian poll: Apathy marks the run up to the contest for governor, writes Phil Reeves in Los Angeles, The Independent, 17 May 1994
  3. ^ Unlikely Path Led to Wilson Foe's Far-Right Challenge - Politics: A computer 'genius' with a passion for Greek philosophy, Ron Unz has set out to jolt the GOP. By Amy Wallace May 08, 1994 Los Angeles Times
  4. ^,9171,988457,00.html The Man Behind Prop. 227 By Margot Hornblower/Los Angeles Monday, Jun. 08, 1998
  5. ^ The California Entrepreneur who Beat Bilingual Teaching by Frank Bruni New York Times Sunday, June 14, 1998, FRONT PAGE.
  6. ^ English for the Children
  7. ^ Ron K. Unz, "Immigration or the Welfare State: Which Is Our Real Enemy?" Policy Review, Fall 1994, p. 34.
  8. ^ Arguments in favor of 1998 California Ballot Proposition 227
  9. ^ Notes on the Unz attack by Stephen Krashen
  10. ^ Crawford, James (2000). At War with Diversity. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. ISBN 1853595055.  
  11. ^ List of Benefactors to Wikimedia

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