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

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.

Analysis and Commentary

The Social Studies Wars

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, May 12, 2003

One found little in the curricular suggestions about who attacked us and why.

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Giving Our Schools a Failing Grade

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force on K–12 Education has just issued a comprehensive assessment of American public education. Its conclusion? America’s schools continue to fail our children. By Hoover fellow Chester E. Finn Jr.

Analysis and Commentary

Our Schools and Our Future:...Are We Still at Risk?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, March 17, 2003

The commission's report hit like a bomb when it declared that the weak performance of America's schools placed the nation itself at risk.

Analysis and Commentary

Leaving Many Children Behind

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, December 9, 2002

This halfhearted choice provision was supposed to take immediate effect for pupils in more than 8,000 schools that have already lingered for two years or more on their states' lists of education failures.

The Challenge of Charter Schools

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

How to jump-start the charter school movement. By Hoover fellow Chester E. Finn Jr.

Analysis and Commentary

The Challenges of Charter Schools

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Monday, June 17, 2002

The charter movement itself cannot decide whether it is a trade association obliged to defend every school that wears the charter label or an education reform movement responsible for ensuring that only good schools are so labeled.

An Open Letter to Lawrence H. Summers

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Policy Review
Saturday, June 1, 2002

Three crucial tests for Harvard’s new president

Analysis and Commentary

Beaucracy and School Leadership

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Daily Report
Saturday, May 4, 2002

There are not nearly enough qualified people to lead some 91,000 public schools and nearly 15,000 school systems.

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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.

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