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

Analysis and Commentary

Will The Recession Kill School Reform?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia Forbes
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Few doubt that we're living through profound changes on many fronts...

In the News

An open letter to president-elect Obama, secretary-designate Duncan and the 111th Congress

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute appraises the current policy landscape and its main players, and outlines the ideal federal role in K-12 education...

Analysis and Commentary

School For $6 A Month

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Thursday, December 11, 2008

The private sector takes education to India's slums...

Analysis and Commentary

Bill Gates' New Education Plan

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Thursday, November 13, 2008

Version 2.0 contains laudable goals but little actionable policy...

No Child Gets Ahead

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia Hoover Digest
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Is the No Child Left Behind Act supposed to help everyone, or only the disadvantaged? By Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli .

Analysis and Commentary

Schools No More For Scandal

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

School reform is bloody hard--Admiral Rickover compared it to moving a graveyard--and harder still in big cities...

Analysis and Commentary

The Law that Dare Not Speak Its Name

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review Online
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

As the new school year and the climactic period of the presidential election both commence, the future of federal education policy is murkier than ever before...

Five ways to misunderstand No Child Left Behind

True-False Test on NCLB

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Friday, June 27, 2008

Five ways to misunderstand No Child Left Behind. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

Analysis and Commentary

No Child Gets Ahead

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia National Review Online
Thursday, June 19, 2008

In his seminal 1961 book, Excellence, John W. Gardner posed the question, “can we be equal and excellent too?”...

Analysis and Commentary

Twenty-Five Years Later, A Nation Still at Risk

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Wall Street Journal
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today marks the 25th anniversary of "A Nation at Risk," the influential Reagan-era report by a blue-ribbon panel that alerted Americans to the weak performance of our education system...

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