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

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...

Analysis and Commentary

Fool Me Twice

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review Online
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

With all the trappings of an IMPORTANT WASHINGTON EVENT, including the presence of the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House education committees, the Commission on No Child Left Behind yesterday unveiled a report that should be called “No Idea Left Behind...."

A Debate on School Reform: Curriculum and Instruction or Markets and Choice?

with Chester E. Finn Jr., E. Donald Hirsch Jr., Caroline M. Hoxby, Paul E. Peterson, Diane Ravitchvia Uncommon Knowledge
Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Koret Task Force on K-–12 Education is a top-rate team of education experts brought together by the Hoover Institution, with the support of the Koret Foundation, to work on education reform. The primary objectives of the task force are to gather, evaluate, and disseminate existing evidence in an analytical context, and analyze reform measures that will enhance the quality and productivity of K-–12 education.

Analysis and Commentary

Hurry Up and Weigh

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via New York Sun
Thursday, January 18, 2007

In his State of the City address yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg announced sweeping reform in how New York City funds public education...

Analysis and Commentary

My Kind of GOP

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review Online
Thursday, November 30, 2006

To be a heartfelt Republican has gotten hard in recent years, but while we were in charge in Washington and most state capitols it was easy, though perhaps unwise, to keep still about this...

Don't Know Much ’bout History

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Monday, October 30, 2006

Chester E. Finn Jr. and Martin A. Davis Jr. on the lamentably low state standards for teaching world history.

Analysis and Commentary

All Aboard The Charters?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Review
Monday, October 9, 2006

Charter schools have taught us much...