Chester E. Finn Jr.

Senior Fellow
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 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

A First-Rate Education For All

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Thursday, August 6, 2009

If America's elementary and high schools laid a sounder educational foundation for more of their students, America's colleges would be far more successful at constructing a solid and artful edifice atop it...

All Together, Now

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Hoover Digest
Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National education standards are as desirable as ever, and perhaps as distant. By Chester E. Finn Jr.

In the News

What's The Best Use Of Stimulus Money?

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via National Journal
Monday, June 29, 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contained more than $100 billion for education, including $40 billion to stabilize state education budgets and $5 billion in discretionary money for incentive grants...

Analysis and Commentary

Good for some, but many parents don't want it

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via San Diego Union-Tribune
Friday, June 12, 2009

The RAND Corp.'s new study of preschool (“Preschool Adequacy and Efficiency in California”) confirms the wisdom shown by Golden State voters in 2006 when they decisively rejected Proposition 82, also known as the “Rob Reiner Preschool for All Initiative.”...

Chester E. Finn Jr.

Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Defining Ideas
Saturday, June 6, 2009

Universal preschool education is not the solution to America’s long-standing education achievement gaps.

In the News

Declaring Educational Bankruptcy

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Corner (National Review Online)
Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Turning around bad schools is harder than turning around Chrysler, GM, or AIG — but our fearless new federal administration seems bent on doing this, too...

Analysis and Commentary

Say No to Universal Preschool

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via New York Post
Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's easy to assume that government-financed preschool would do much to cure what ails American education if only it were provided to everybody...

Analysis and Commentary

Slow the Preschool Bandwagon

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Washington Post
Friday, May 15, 2009

President Obama has pledged to spend $10 billion more a year on "zero to five" education, and his 2010 budget makes a $2 billion "down payment" on that commitment...

Analysis and Commentary

Our Government, For Better Or Worse

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Forbes
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ever since I came into contact with government, both state and federal, and especially in the four decades since first going to work in it, I've been struck by the gap between what many Americans expect of government and what it's actually good at doing...

cover image for Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut by Chester E. Finn, Jr.

Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut

by Chester E. Finn Jr.via Books by Hoover Fellows
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pre-kindergarten is one of the hottest topics in American education in 2009: Which children really need it? How many aren’t getting it? Who should provide it—and at whose expense? What’s the right balance between socialization and systematic instruction? Between education and child care? Where does Head Start fit in? What are reliable markers of quality in preschool programs? And much, much more.

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