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

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High Schools and Low Results

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 2002

If you assumed that nearly every student gets at least a high school diploma these days, prepare yourself for a shock. Hoover fellow Chester E. Finn Jr. on American education’s dirty secret.

Analysis and Commentary

The High School Diploma Drought

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, December 24, 2001

If just three-quarters of young Americans—and barely half of black and Latino students—are managing to graduate from high school on time, we've got a whopping problem.

How to Get Better Teachers—and Treat Them Right

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Monday, July 30, 2001

Want better students? Find better teachers. Hoover fellow Chester E. Finn Jr. explains how we can lure America’s best and brightest back into the classroom.

Analysis and Commentary

How Bad Is the Education Bill?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, June 25, 2001

There will, in fact, be no fundamental overhaul of this LBJ-era legislation, despite decades of evidence of its failure. But there will definitely be a whopping price tag.

Analysis and Commentary

Teachers Versus Children

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, October 23, 2000

This power grab is carefully concealed under the fig leaf of “teacher professionalism.”

The Little Engine That Could

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Bruno V. Manno, Gregg Vanourekvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2000

Although few in number, charter schools represent a powerful engine for reforming our entire system of public education. By Hoover fellow Chester Finn Jr. and his coauthors Bruno Manno and Gregg Vanourek.

Analysis and Commentary

Charter Schools in Action

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, April 10, 2000

Almost 1,700 charter schools now operate in the United States, enrolling 300,000 youngsters. In the District of Columbia and Trenton, 10 percent of all schoolchildren attend them. In Kansas City, it's 13 percent.

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

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