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.

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Recent Commentary

The Case for Saturday School

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Friday, July 2, 2010

When it comes to instruction time, longer is better. American schools, however, are going the other way. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

Analysis and Commentary

Virtual Education and Common Core Standards

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (June 23) about whether common standards create economies of scale for virtual learning products...

Analysis and Commentary

Denial vs Paranoia with Common Core Education Standards

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Thursday, June 17, 2010

I deny that I’m in denial. But I don’t deny that Neal McCluskey is paranoid, along with Jay Greene and a few other ardent blogsters and op-edsters...

Analysis and Commentary

Teacher Bailout Bill, R.I.P.?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (June 8) about the belt-tightening that will hopefully take place if the $23 billion edujobs bill dies in Congress...

Paul Peterson and Checker Finn

Teacher bailout bill, R.I.P.?

by Paul E. Peterson, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Podcasts
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hoover senior fellows and members of the Koret Task Force on K–12 Education, Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn Jr., discuss the belt-tightening that will hopefully take place if the $23 billion edujobs bill dies in Congress.

Analysis and Commentary

Book Alert: Taking Measure of Charter Schools

by Chester E. Finn Jr. with Paul T. Hillvia Education Week
Monday, June 7, 2010

This collection of eleven essays is specialized, even wonky, but it addresses a key issue in the charter-school world, namely how to improve the research into and evaluation of this new universe of schools...

Analysis and Commentary

Common Core State Standards: Better Than Ever

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Today marks release of the final “Common Core” standards–symbolically occurring in a state capital (Atlanta) rather than Washington, D.C...

Analysis and Commentary

We know 'em when we see 'em

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Journal Expert Blog: Education
Thursday, May 27, 2010

We do know why these schools are failing. It's because they're not doing the things that cause schools to succeed...

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