Chester E. Finn Jr.

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 
Biography: 

Chester E. Finn Jr. has devoted his career to improving education in the United States. As a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, chairman of Hoover's Task Force on K–12 Education, and president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, his primary focus is reforming primary and secondary schooling.

Finn has led Fordham since 1997, after many earlier roles in education, academe, and government, including professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University, US assistant secretary of education, and legislative director for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

A native of Ohio, he holds an undergraduate degree in US history, a master's degree in social studies teaching, and a doctorate in education policy, all from Harvard University.

Finn has served on numerous boards, currently including the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Core Knowledge Foundation. From 1988 to 1996, he served on the National Assessment Governing Board, including two years as its chair.

Author of more than four hundred articles and twenty books, Finn's latest (coauthored with Jessica Hockett) is Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools. Earlier works include Ohio's Education Reform Challenges: Lessons from the Frontlines (coauthored with Terry Ryan and Michael Lafferty); Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform since Sputnik; Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut; Leaving No Child Behind: Options for Kids in Failing Schools (coedited with Frederick M. Hess); Charter Schools in Action: Renewing Public Education (coauthored with Bruno V. Manno and Gregg Vanourek); and The Educated Child: A Parent's Guide from Pre-School through Eighth Grade (coauthored with William J. Bennett and John Cribb).

He and his wife, Renu Virmani, a physician, have two grown children and three adorable granddaughters. They live in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

Filter By:

Topic

Type

Recent Commentary

Blogs

Bravo

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Monday, April 13, 2015

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, unveiled a few days back by Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray and scheduled for HELP Committee mark-up on April 14, is a remarkable piece of work.

Blogs

College Preparedness Over The Years, According To NAEP

by Michael J. Petrilli, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For almost a decade, the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, studied whether and how NAEP could “plausibly estimate” the percentage of U.S. students who “possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities in reading and mathematics that would make them academically prepared for college.”

Blogs

How Well Are American Students Learning? Part III: Student Engagement

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Brown Center reports on the state of American education are characteristically lucid and informative as well as scrupulously research-based—and they sometimes venture into unfamiliar but rewarding territory. That's certainly the case with the third section of the latest report, which addresses "the intensity with which students apply themselves to learning in school."

Global Education
Blogs

The Smartest Kids In The World, My Arse

by Chester E. Finn Jr.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The idea for this book was born two years ago, when I read Amanda Ripley’s volume The Smartest Kids in the World. I hate to be promiscuous with compliments, but it’s a very adequate effort. Its title, however, is highly misleading, which I realizedas soon as I checked the book’s index and didn’t see any of my granddaughters mentioned. That’s like Romeo and Juliet without Juliet. The Old Testament without Moses. Black Swan without swans.

Classroom students
Blogs

The Conservative Case For HR 5

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Club for Growth is right about a bunch of issues, but they’re wrong about the pending House bill to replace No Child Left Behind with something far better. HR 5 (the “Student Success Act”), slated for floor action a few days hence, would, if enacted, be the most conservative federal education move in a quarter century.

Blogs

Can Gifted Education Survive The Common Core?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Amber M. Northernvia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Friday, February 20, 2015

What does the Common Core portend for America’s high-achieving and gifted students? Quite a kerfuffle has erupted in many parts of the country, with boosters of these rigorous new standards declaring that they’re plenty sufficient to challenge the ablest pupils and boosters of gifted education fretting that this will be used as the latest excuse to do away with already-dwindling opportunities for such children.

Blogs

The Future Of School Accountability

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Recent days have brought several thoughtful commentaries on results-based accountability in K-12 education, why it’s important, what it’s accomplished and why it needs to continue.

Featured Commentary

NCLB Accountability is Dead; Long Live ESEA Testing

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Friday, February 6, 2015

It’s fascinating—and telling—how rapidly the zillion issues tucked away in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act have been distilled down to arguments about testing.

Transforming Tomorrow’s Schools

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The wheels of education reform grind exceedingly slow, but they have ground out some progress. We need more.

Featured Commentary

Thanks to Gov. Cuomo, Preet Bharara And Sheldon Silver, It Was A Huge Week For Education Reform

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via New York Daily News
Friday, January 23, 2015

Is Cuomo the first Democratic governor ever to propose a program of private-school choice for kids and families in his state?

Pages