Chester E. Finn Jr.

Senior Fellow
Research Team: 

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

Congress and Education Reform

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, October 7, 2010

By Chester Finn & Michael Petrilli

Analysis and Commentary

A New Start for Head Start — If Congress Doesn’t Get in the Way

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Head Start program has needed a radical overhaul for the past 45 years...Now the Obama administration is trying again and one can only hope that they, too, aren’t blocked...

Analysis and Commentary

Baltimore Schools Take Tentative Step in Right Direction

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Corner (National Review Online)
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If ratified by union members on October 14, Baltimore’s new teacher contract will move the “Charm City” a modest distance into the 21st Century...

Analysis and Commentary

At the Movies with Paul and Checker

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Paul E. Petersonvia Education Next
Friday, October 1, 2010

Education Next’s Paul Peterson and Chester E. Finn, Jr. talk this week (October 1) about Waiting for Superman—the movie and the movie reviews...

The Language of Diplomacy

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beijing is paying for Chinese-language schools all around the world,
including scores in the United States. Should we be concerned?

Analysis and Commentary

Bravo, Brockton!

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

Brockton High School, one of the largest in America, is now producing very strong (not yet stellar) results; it used to produce dreadful results. It has accomplished a successful school turnaround, one of the toughest feats in U.S. education...

Analysis and Commentary

An Education-Reform Wasteland

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

Lots of promising developments in U.S. education are occurring in a number of states and localities, and some good things have been coming out of the U.S. Department of Education, but for the most part the U.S. Congress remains an education-reform wasteland...

Analysis and Commentary

Would a Republican Congress be good for school reform?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia Education Gadfly
Thursday, September 23, 2010

We hope that a Republican takeover might lead to a productive policy environment, with the GOP even teaming up with the Administration to promote the “tight-loose” framework. But that’s no sure thing...

Analysis and Commentary

Waiting for “Superman”

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aside from all that glitz and glamor, Waiting for “Superman” is quite a movie to boot...

Analysis and Commentary

You’ll be Sorely Missed, Mike Castle

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Next
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Besides almost certainly forfeiting a Senate seat that the GOP could have taken in November, Delaware’s Republican primary voters yesterday made a colossal mistake when it comes to education policy...