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.

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Recent Commentary

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?

Blogs

Barack Obama’s Love Affair With Universality

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The President may have stiffed the French at the big solidarity rally that many other world leaders attended over the weekend, but when it comes to domestic policy, he is in love with the universe—and universality.

Blogs

Quality Counts 2015

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ah, January is upon us: The wind is howling, the thermometer is plummeting, and we are greeted by the nineteenth consecutive edition of Quality Counts, Education Week’s compilation of mostly useful data, analysis, rankings, and commentaries.

Other Media

Book Review: The Professor and the President: Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Nixon White House

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

With the fiftieth anniversary at hand for the celebrated and once-controversial "Moynihan Report," the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is back on people's minds and keyboards

Featured Commentary

Contentions The NEA’s Racial Profiling Curriculum

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Commentary
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Given the volatility and sensitivity of “racial profiling” these days, heightened by recent developments in Ferguson, New York, and Cleveland and by brand new law-enforcement “guidelines” from the Justice Department, one could be tempted to thank the National Education Association for its recent effort, in league with a bunch of other organizations, to develop curricular materials by which schools and teachers can instruct their students on this issue.

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