His latest book, The Knowledge Capital of Nations: Education and the Economics of Growth, identifies the close link between the skills of the people and the economic growth of the nation and shows the economic impact of high quality schools. This analysis is the basis for estimating the economic benefits of a world development standard based on achieving basic skills (Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain). His prior book, Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School, considers the performance of U.S. schools from an international perspective and identifies the costs of not improving student outcomes. In terms of U.S. education policy, Schoolhouses, Courthouses, and Statehouses: Solving the Funding-Achievement Puzzle in America's Public Schools describes how improved school finance policies can be used to meet our achievement goals. Earlier books include Courting Failure, the Handbook on the Economics of Education (five volumes), The Economics of Schooling and School Quality, Improving America’s Schools, Making Schools Work, Educational Performance of the Poor, and Education and Race. His over 250 scholarly articles on a wide range of education topics are very widely cited both in professional journals and in policy discussions.
He is chairman of the Executive Committee for the Texas Schools Project at the University of Texas at Dallas, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the area coordinator for Economics of Education of the CESifo Research Network, and a research fellow of the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. He recently served as a commissioner on the Equity and Excellence Commission of the U.S. Department of Education. He was chair of the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences during 2008-2010 and was Deputy Director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1983-85. He currently is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) that sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
He previously held academic appointments at the University of Rochester, Yale University, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a member of the National Academy of Education and the International Academy of Education along with being a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists and the American Education Research Association. He was awarded the Fordham Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in 2004.
He is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and completed his Ph.D. in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1965-1974.