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

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."

Analysis and Commentary

After the Election, What Will States and Districts Do?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk about how the Republican landslide will affect education policymaking at the state and local levels. Will state and local governments figure out how to downsize? Can they accomplish reform through reallocation...?

Analysis and Commentary

Senseless 'certificate'

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via New York Post
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cathie Black may or may not be a fantastic education-reformer-in-waiting. Michael Bloomberg may or may not have made an inspired selection. But he's the guy responsible for New York schools these days...

Seeds of Reform Sown by Moynihan (and Coleman)

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Advancing a Free Society
Monday, November 22, 2010

Seven years after his death, Daniel Patrick Moynihan still makes the front page of the New York Times.

Analysis and Commentary

Seeds of Reform Sown by Moynihan (and Coleman)

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Friday, November 19, 2010

Seven years after his death, Daniel Patrick Moynihan still makes the front page of the New York Times. The immediate context one day in mid-October was an article on the “culture of poverty” and how it is now legitimate to attend to this ticklish topic that had been taboo for so long...

Analysis and Commentary

Thanks but No Thanks, NAEP

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Thursday, November 18, 2010

The latest 12th grade National Assessment results (from 2009), released this morning, show small (but statistically significant) upticks over the past four years in both reading and math...

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