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

How to Fix "No Child Left Behind"

by Chester E. Finn Jr., Michael J. Petrillivia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Four years into NCLB, the math and science outlook in our schools remains troubling. What must be done to fix the problem -- before the United States itself gets left behind. By Chester E. Finn and Michael J. Petrilli.

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No Child Left Behind: The Bad and the Good

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

The report card on the No Child Left Behind Act is in, and the grades are passing—barely. By Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli.

Too Many Teachers, Too Little Pay

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Saturday, April 30, 2005

Over the past 50 years America has invested in more teachers rather than in better ones. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

Analysis and Commentary

Judging Charter Schools

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Wednesday, March 30, 2005

There is no dispute about the charter school movement's growth to 3,300 schools enrolling close to a million children.

Analysis and Commentary

The Blind Men and the High School

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Wednesday, February 2, 2005

U.S. high school education remains sorely afflicted, both by sky-high dropout rates and by weak academic achievement among those who do finish.

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Power to the Parents

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Sunday, January 30, 2005

President Bush should empower parents by giving them a say over where—and how and from whom—their children learn. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

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Alan Greenspan, Education Reformer

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Friday, April 30, 2004

What the guru of the American economy can teach us about improving our schools. By Hoover fellow Chester E. Finn Jr.

Analysis and Commentary

Why Must College Be So Costly?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, March 8, 2004

We are headed toward the quarter-million-dollar B.A.

Analysis and Commentary

Education in Urban America

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, February 2, 2004

Washington's ambitious goal of getting every young American to the "proficient" level is akin to crossing the Grand Canyon

Analysis and Commentary

Professionalizing Teachers versus Improving the Profession

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, September 15, 2003

What started as an effort to improve the teaching profession has turned instead into professionalizing teacher improvement.

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