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, former chairman of Hoover's Task Force on K–12 Education, member of the Maryland State Board of Education and of Maryland's Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, and Distinguished Senior Fellow & President Emeritus 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 Bruno V. Manno and Brandon L. Wright) is Charter Schools at the Crossroads: Predicaments, Paradoxes, Possibilities. Earlier works include Failing Our Brightest Kids: The Global Challenge of Educating High-Ability Students (coauthored with Brandon L. Wright), Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools (coauthored with Jessica Hockett), 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

Global Education
Analysis and Commentary

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
Analysis and Commentary

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.

Analysis and Commentary

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.

Analysis and Commentary

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.

Analysis and 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.

Analysis and 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?

Analysis and Commentary

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.

Analysis and Commentary

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.

In the News

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

Pages