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

Blank Section (Placeholder)Featured

Truth Decay In Education

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Defining Ideas
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The emphasis on “critical thinking” is misplaced. Students need to learn the facts.

Analysis and Commentary

Narrowing The Gifted Gap For Disadvantaged Students

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Amber M. Northernvia EducationNext
Friday, February 9, 2018

The United States wastes an enormous amount of its human capital by failing to cultivate the innate talents of many of its young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. That failure exacts a great cost from the nation’s economy, widens painful gaps in income, frustrates efforts to spur upward mobility, contributes to civic decay and political division, and worsens the inequalities that plague so many elements of our society.

Featured

Why We Need State-by-State NAEP Scores For 12th Graders

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via EducationNext
Thursday, February 8, 2018

The single best thing that could happen to American education in the next few years would be for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to begin regularly reporting state-by-state results at the twelfth grade level.

Analysis and Commentary

Narrowing The Gifted Gap For Disadvantaged Students

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Amber M. Northernvia Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Thursday, February 1, 2018

The United States wastes an enormous amount of its human capital by failing to cultivate the innate talents of many of its young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. That failure exacts a great cost from the nation’s economy, widens painful gaps in income, frustrates efforts to spur upward mobility, contributes to civic decay and political division, and worsens the inequalities that plague so many elements of our society.

Analysis and Commentary

Emphasis On Thinking Skills Over Facts In Schools Contributes To Truth Decay

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via EducationNext
Friday, January 26, 2018

The Rand Corporation’s provocative policy brief on “truth decay” points to failings in the education system as one of a quartet of causes of today’s widening inability among Americans to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Blank Section (Placeholder)

I'm OK, You're Not Learning

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Friday, January 26, 2018

The California-born self-esteem movement has morphed into “social-emotional learning.” But it still sidelines real academic skills. 

Analysis and Commentary

Are We Committed To Raising School Standards?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via EducationNext
Thursday, January 4, 2018

In an important and mostly depressing New Year’s Day column in The Washington Post, veteran education journalist Jay Mathews describes the on-again, off-again “carnival ride” to “raise school standards” that he’s observed over the past half century. “We love making schools more accountable,” Mathews writes. “Then, we hate the idea.”

Analysis and Commentary

Education's Unhappy New Year

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In an important and mostly depressing New Year’s Day column in The Washington Post, veteran education journalist Jay Mathews describes the on-again, off-again “carnival ride” to “raise school standards” that he’s observed over the past half century. “We love making schools more accountable,” Mathews writes. “Then, we hate the idea.”

Analysis and Commentary

Helping High-Ability Kids From Disadvantaged Backgrounds In 2018

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via EducationNext
Thursday, December 21, 2017

‘Tis a time of celebration, reflection, gift-giving, and—swiftly thereafter—planning and resolving for the year to come. Let’s include in those reflections and resolutions some extra attention to the oft-neglected demographic subset we might simply call smart poor kids. They so often fall through a crack between two common assumptions in American education: (1) that “gifted and talented” education is something that’s mostly about able but also privileged middle class youngsters with pushy parents (i.e., that it’s an elitist thing); and (2) the belief that smart high achievers will generally do fine on their own and hence the formal education system should focus laser-like on the laggards and those on the lower edge of the achievement gap.

Analysis and Commentary

College Credit While In High School

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Flypaper (Fordham Education Blog)
Friday, December 1, 2017

Like pumpkin-spice lattes during autumn, ways of getting college credit during high school (CCHS) are big business nowadays, whether one is looking at such tried-and-true vehicles as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate or fast-growing newcomers like dual credit, dual enrollment, early-college high schools and P-tech schools.

Pages