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

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American Education in 2030

by Grover J. Whitehurst, Paul E. Peterson, Terry M. Moe, Tom Loveless, Paul T. Hill, Eric Hanushek, Williamson M. Evers, John E. Chubb, Caroline M. Hoxby, Chester E. Finn Jr., Herbert J. Walbergvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Monday, March 22, 2010

In these essays, members of the Hoover Institution's Task Force on K-12 education, joined by several keen-eyed observers, blend prediction with prescription to paint a vivid picture of American primary and secondary education in 2030.

Analysis and Commentary

The Case for Saturday School

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Wall Street Journal
Saturday, March 20, 2010

How many days a year did the future Alexander the Great study with Aristotle? . . .

The Case for Saturday School

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Advancing a Free Society
Saturday, March 20, 2010

"He who labors diligently need never despair, for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor." —Menander

Analysis and Commentary

Back to Basics

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For five good reasons, conservatives should take seriously the potential of the newly released (in draft form) “common” education standards to strengthen U.S. education. . . .

Analysis and Commentary

A Turning Point on Education Reform

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via AOL News
Thursday, March 11, 2010

If the nation's education system finally makes a meaningful turn for the better, March 10 may very well mark the turning point. . . .

Analysis and Commentary

Can we get to national standards, considering the pitfalls?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Gadfly
Friday, March 5, 2010

My feet aren't frozen, but as the march toward national or "common" academic standards trudges through deepening snow, they're getting chilly. . . .

Analysis and Commentary

School’s Out

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Diane Ravitch’s important new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, will surely stir controversy, exactly as she intends. . . .

Analysis and Commentary

Obama on Education: Not Bad, Not Great

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Corner (National Review Online)
Thursday, January 28, 2010

On primary and secondary education, as on most topics, Mr. Obama stayed at 30,000 feet in his speech last night. . . .

Test Your Social Literacy

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 14, 2010

A decent education doesn’t merely confer good grades. It confers the ability to understand complex social issues—the health care battle, for instance. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

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