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

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...

Analysis and Commentary

5 Myths About No Child Left Behind

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Washington Post
Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's the 800-pound gorilla of U.S. education....

Analysis and Commentary

Lessons Learned

by Chester E. Finn Jr. with Diane Ravitchvia Education Week
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Yes, I’ve learned plenty in the 57 years since I entered 1st grade in Dayton, Ohio’s Fairview Elementary School, and the four decades since I taught social studies at Newton High School in Massachusetts...

Analysis and Commentary

Com“Pell”ing Proposal

by Chester E. Finn Jr. with Diane Ravitchvia National Journal
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The president wasn’t wrong when he said during his State of the Union address that the No Child Left Behind Act is “succeeding,” though he cherry-picked the available evidence to document his claim...

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Seeds of Competitiveness

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Diane Ravitchvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

High schoolers need the liberal arts, not just the technical ones. By Chester E. Finn Jr. and Diane Ravitch.

In the News

Leave no (none, zero, nada) child behind?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Gadfly
Thursday, October 11, 2007

Passed by Congress in late 2001 and signed by President George W. Bush one year after his inauguration, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is the most ambitious federal education statute ever...

Analysis and Commentary

Dumbing Education Down

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Wall Street Journal
Friday, October 5, 2007

President George W. Bush's signature education reform -- the No Child Left Behind Act -- is coming in for a close inspection in Congress...

Analysis and Commentary

No Question Left Behind

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review Online
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

With every passing week, the 110th Congress looks less likely to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the fate of which will therefore hinge on the 2008 election...

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