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 Jessica Hockett) is Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools. Earlier works include 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

Heavy Lifting Needed on No Child Left Behind

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Corner (National Review Online)
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Eight months into the Obama administration, the White House has been mute on its intentions regarding No Child Left Behind, George W. Bush's signature education accomplishment — and a statute that nearly everyone in America believes needs a makeover...

Analysis and Commentary

Early Childhood Misstep

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

While the Senate is consumed by health care, other problem topics are piling up...

Analysis and Commentary

Health Care and an Educated Citizenry

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review
Thursday, September 17, 2009

What kind of education would one need to make sense of the current health-care debate?...

Analysis and Commentary

The Preschool Picture

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The campaign for universal preschool education in the United States has gained great momentum...

Analysis and Commentary

SAT Upon

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The College Board, as always, hung a smiley face on it but the latest SAT results are a real bummer...

Analysis and Commentary

A Constitutional Moment for American Education?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review
Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vacation gave me the opportunity to catch up with a bit of early American history, particularly the eventful last two decades of the 18th century...

Analysis and Commentary

A First-Rate Education For All

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Thursday, August 6, 2009

If America's elementary and high schools laid a sounder educational foundation for more of their students, America's colleges would be far more successful at constructing a solid and artful edifice atop it...

All Together, Now

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National education standards are as desirable as ever, and perhaps as distant. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

In the News

What's The Best Use Of Stimulus Money?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Journal
Monday, June 29, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contained more than $100 billion for education, including $40 billion to stabilize state education budgets and $5 billion in discretionary money for incentive grants...

Analysis and Commentary

Good for some, but many parents don't want it

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via San Diego Union-Tribune
Friday, June 12, 2009

The RAND Corp.'s new study of preschool (“Preschool Adequacy and Efficiency in California”) confirms the wisdom shown by Golden State voters in 2006 when they decisively rejected Proposition 82, also known as the “Rob Reiner Preschool for All Initiative.”...

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