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

Support Your Local Charter School

by Bruno V. Manno, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Policy Review
Tuesday, September 1, 1998

Civic entrepreneurs will be critical to the success of these fledgling independent public schools

A Nation Still at Risk

by William J. Bennett, Willard Fair, Chester E. Finn Jr., Rev. Floyd H. Flake, E. Donald Hirsch Jr., Will Marshall, Diane Ravitchvia Policy Review
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

Fifteen years after A Nation at Risk galvanized the education reform movement, little has changed.

Learning-Free Zones

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Policy Review
Monday, September 1, 1997

Five reasons America’s schools won’t improve

Magna Charter?

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Diane Ravitchvia Policy Review
Friday, September 1, 1995

A report card on school reform in 1995

American Education in 2030: School Choice

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Analysis
Thursday, May 25, 1020

In 2030, nearly two-thirds of U.S. children benefit from school choice, up from half in 2010. 

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