Chester E. Finn Jr.

Senior Fellow
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

Analysis and Commentary

Nobody Deserves Tenure

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Friday, February 4, 2011

...[N]obody has a right to lifetime employment unrelated either to their on-the-job performance or to their employer’s continuing need for the skills and attributes of that particular person...

In the News

A Battle Begun, Not Won

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Paul E. Peterson, Marci Kanstoroomvia Education Next
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been...

Analysis and Commentary

The Rope with which We Hang Ourselves

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Monday, January 24, 2011

V. I. Lenin may or may not have actually declared that “the capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” but something of the sort is occurring nowadays between American educators and the Communist regime in Beijing...

Analysis and Commentary

Do Home Schoolers Deserve a Tax Break? Yes, but Tests Are Necessary

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Room for Debate (New York Times)
Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In return for the financial help...home-schooled students should be required to take state tests, just as they would do in regular school, charter school or virtual schools...

Analysis and Commentary

Shame on You!

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Journal Expert Blog: Education
Monday, December 13, 2010

Who really cares about gold medals? Oscars? Nobel Prizes? Three Michelin stars? Yet you want us seriously to ponder the possibility that average is fine for the United States when it comes to education...?

Re-Imagining Local Control

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, December 9, 2010

Writing last week in the Wall Street Journal, my friend and long-time former co-author, Diane Ravitch, challenged resurgent Congressional Republ

A Sputnik Moment for U.S. Education

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Advancing a Free Society
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sixty-three years after Sputnik caused an earthquake in American education by giving us reason to believe that the Soviet Union had surpassed us, China has delivered another shock.

Analysis and Commentary

A Sputnik Moment for U.S. Education

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

China delivers another wake-up call to those who think American schools are globally competitive...

Analysis and Commentary

Re-Imagining Local Control

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Monday, December 6, 2010

Writing last week in the Wall Street Journal, my friend and long-time former co-author, Diane Ravitch, challenged resurgent Congressional Republicans to return K-12 education to “local control...”

Senseless ‘certificate’

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Advancing a Free Society
Monday, November 29, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg's selection of veteran publishing executive Cathie Black to succeed Joel Klein as New York City's schools chancellor has at least temporarily collided with a state law requiring that school-system heads possess a "superintendent's certificate."

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