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

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...

Analysis and Commentary

Senior Fellows Diane Ravitch & Chester Finn: Not By Geeks Alone

by Diane Ravitch, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

In a globalizing economy, America's competitive edge depends in large measure on how well our schools prepare tomorrow's workforce...

Held Back

by Frederick M. Hess, Chester E. Finn Jr.via Policy Review
Monday, July 30, 2007

No Child Left Behind needs some work

Analysis and Commentary

Beyond the Basics: Achieving a Liberal Education for All Children

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Diane Ravitchvia Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
Wednesday, July 11, 2007

History offers many explanations for why people should acquire a broad, liberal-arts education...

Analysis and Commentary

Federalism in the Land of Oz

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Education Week
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The United States isn’t the only land where primary-secondary schooling was traditionally the responsibility of the states or provinces, while the national government played a minor, even peripheral role...

Analysis and Commentary

What Innovators Can, and Cannot, Do

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via American Enterprise Institute
Tuesday, March 6, 2007

K-12 education should abound with opportunities for entrepreneurial activity...