Author

Chester E. Finn, Jr.

    Author Website: http://www.edexcellence.net/


    Author Bio:
    Chester Finn, Jr. is a scholar, educator and public servant who has been at the forefront of the national education debate for 35 years. Born and raised in Ohio, he received his doctorate from Harvard in education policy. He has served, inter alia, as a Professor of Education and Public Policy at Vanderbilt, Counsel to the U.S. ambassador to India, Legislative Director for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education for Research and Improvement. A senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and chairman of Hoover’s Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, Finn is also President of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. He serves on the board of several other organizations concerned with primary-secondary schooling. The author of 16 books and more than 400 articles, his work has appeared in such publications as The Weekly Standard, Christian Science Monitor, Commentary, The Public Interest, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Education Week, Harvard Business Review and Boston Globe. Dr. Finn is the recipient of awards from the Educational Press Association of America, Choice Magazine, the Education Writers Association, and the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. He holds an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Colgate University. He and his wife, Renu Virmani, a physician, have two grown children and two adorable little granddaughters.  They live in Chevy Chase, Maryland.


Articles

Different Kids Need Different Credentials

Forum: Rethinking the High School Diploma

WINTER 2015 / Vol. 15, No. 1

Rethinking the 
High School Diploma

Education Next talks with 
Chester E. Finn, Jr., Richard D. Kahlenberg and Sandy Kress

WINTER 2015 / Vol. 15, No. 1

Ending Our Neglect of Gifted Students

It’s a matter of fairness, equal opportunity , and long-term societal well-being.

Can Digital Learning Transform Education?

Education Next talks with Chester E. Finn, Jr., and Michael B. Horn

Exam Schools from the Inside

Racially diverse, subject to collective bargaining, fulfilling a need

FALL 2012 / VOL. 12, NO. 4

First, We Need a Brand New K–12 System

Part 1 of a forum on whether digital learning can transform education

Winter 2013 / Vol. 13, No. 1

A Battle Begun, Not Won

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s 10th anniversary, in which the editors assessed the school reform movement’s victories and challenges to see just how successful reform efforts have been. For the other side of the debate, please see Pyrrhic Victories? by Frederick M. Hess, Michael J. Petrilli, […]

Spring 2011 / Vol. 11, No. 2

Authorizing Charters

Helping mom-and-pops in Ohio

Fall 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 4

Education Data in 2025

Fifteen years hence, we will know exactly how well our schools, teachers, and students are doing

Winter 2010 / Vol. 10, No. 1

E Pluribus Unum?

Two longtime school reformers debate the merits of a national curriculum

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

The Preschool Picture

Universal preschool will be a boon for middle-class parents. How it will help poor kids catch up is not so obvious.

Fall 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 4

More Money for Less Accountability?

I don’t think so!

Spring 2009 / Vol. 9, No. 2

Troublemaker

The education of Chester Finn

Spring 2008 / Vol. 8, No. 2

Crash Course

NCLB is driven by education politics

Fall 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 4

What Innovators Can, and Cannot, Do

Squeezing into local markets and cutting deals

Spring 2007 / Vol. 7, No. 2

A New New Federalism

The case for national standards and tests

Fall 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 4

Selective Reporting

Quality Counts 2001, A Better Balance: Standards, Tests, and the Tools to Succeed by the editors of Education Week

Fall 2001 / Vol. 1, No. 3

Just the Facts

School Figures: The Data Behind the Debate
by Hanna Skandera and Richard Sousa
Hoover Institution, 2003, $15; 342 pp.

Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Faulty Engineering

The diversity of values within American society renders public schools ill-equipped to produce the engaged citizens our democracy requires

Spring 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 2

Lost at Sea

Early 20th century Progressive reformers established elected school boards as a means of shielding public school systems from the politics and patronage of corrupt city governments. Citizens, rather than political dons or their favored appointees, would govern the community’s schools with the community’s interests at heart. Today, however, elected school boards, especially in America’s troubled […]

Summer 2004 / Vol. 4, No. 3

Book Alert

The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market, by Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane; Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap, by Richard Rothstein; Leaving No Child Behind? Options for Kids in Failing Schools, by Frederick M. Hess and Chester E. Finn Jr., eds.; Standards Deviation: How Schools Misunderstand Education Policy, by James P. Spillane

Winter 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 1

Paying Teachers Properly

That the uniform salary “schedule” for teachers is obsolete and dysfunctional is a truth widely accepted but rarely challenged.

Winter 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 1

Tread on Me—but Lightly

The Era of Big Government Is Complicated

Summer 2005 / Vol. 5, No. 3

Things Are Falling Apart

Can the center find a solution that will hold?

Winter 2006 / Vol. 6, No. 1

Blog Posts/Multimedia

Time for a Reboot

It’s probably time for education reformers and policymakers to admit that just pushing harder on test-driven accountability as the primary tool for changing our creaky old public school system is apt to yield more backlash than accomplishment

10/08/2014

The Challenges of AP History: Are You Sure You Want College Credit?

The trickle downward of university curricular mischief into our schools and other institutions continues unabated, and it’s not a problem that the College Board alone can solve.

09/11/2014

The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don’t Teach

Why do American public schools spend more of their operating budgets on non-teachers than almost every other country in the world, including nations that are as prosperous and humane as ours?

08/15/2014

Save Our Data! Protect the Integrity of Education Statistics

Everything you may be trying to accomplish, change, or protect in American education hinges more than you might realize on the integrity of our education data system and that data system is more vulnerable than you might think.

08/04/2014

Education Reform in 2014

On August 1, Chester E. “Checker” Finn, Jr., will step down from his role as founding president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, passing the baton to Michael J. Petrilli. Here is his “farewell address” as president.

08/01/2014

Pre-Kraziness

What is the benefit conferred by preschool if there’s no school after the pre?

07/30/2014

We’ll Miss You, Michael Gove

The path on which Gove and his predecessors placed English education resembles the path taken by U.S. education reformers.

07/23/2014

Whither the NEA?

Perhaps the historic coupling of the NEA and the Democratic Party is loosening a bit.

07/11/2014

The NCES, NIEER, and Spinning Preschool Data

The job of a statistical agency is to provide people with data by which they can judge these things for themselves. On the preschool front, the National Center for Education Statistics has let the country down.

07/08/2014

Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement

Principal hiring practices continue to fall short of what is needed, effectively causing needy schools to lose out on leaders with the potential to be great.

07/02/2014

Pie in the Special-Ed Sky?

Will the new federal regulatory scheme lead to real change on the ground?

06/30/2014

The ‘Balanced Literacy’ Hoax

Balanced literacy is neither “balanced” nor “literacy,” at least not in the sense that poor kids taught to read via this approach will end up literate.

06/29/2014

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

State education leaders will have to decide if their states are ready to move forward with consequences based on Common Core assessments.

06/16/2014

Intellectual Coherence and the Common Core

Once educators and local (and state) officials see how poorly their kids do on tougher assessments and what the standards really require, they will start looking for better curricular materials and training.

05/22/2014

Now You’re Entitled To Your Own Facts Too

In the preschool realm, the U.S. Department of Education has it outsourced the number-gathering to a prominent interest group in the field and it has allowed that interest group to add its own spin.

05/12/2014

Almost, Peggy, But This Time Not Quite

When it comes to the Common Core State Standards, Peggy Noonan is only about 60 percent right.

05/09/2014

Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?

Teachers are expected to be all things to (almost) all youngsters, but most acknowledge that, while technology and small classes surely help, they do not feel like they’re differentiating all that well.

05/07/2014

The Opt-Out Outrage

Is it legal to opt your child out of state tests? Should it be legal?

04/14/2014

Education’s Endless, Erroneous Either-Ors

The K–12 education world brims with debates and dichotomies that get us into all manner of needless quarrels and cul-de-sacs, thus messing up every reform initiative and retarding progress.

03/07/2014

Disciplining the Undisciplined

The tough letter that senior House Republicans sent last week to Arne Duncan and Eric Holder should have been even tougher. For the “guidance” that their agencies issued to U.S. schools in the guise of improving school discipline can only make it harder for educators to create safe, serious, and effective learning environments.

02/20/2014

Flipping Out: Controlled Choice Restricts Options

“Controlled choice”restricts families’ education options and imposes a top-down, government-run, social-engineering scheme based on somebody’s view of the value of racial and socioeconomic integration.

01/29/2014

Knowledge at the Core

For thirty years, Don Hirsch has tried to persuade policymakers to undertake perhaps the one reform we’ve never tried: the widespread adoption of a coherent, sequential, content-rich curriculum. What might change the outcome over the next thirty years?

01/27/2014

The “War on Poverty” and Me

Forgive an aging education-reformer’s reminiscences, but LBJ’s declaration of war on poverty shaped the next 50 years of my life.

01/08/2014

Gifted Education— What I Saw, What I’m Learning

I’ve visited eight countries to see how they educate their high-ability kids in the hope that we might pick up tips that would prove useful in improving the woeful state of “gifted education” in the U.S

12/11/2013

Financing the Education of High-Need Students

Special education is in need of a top-to-bottom makeover that nobody seems willing or able to undertake. But some worthy repairs can be made around the periphery of current policy

12/06/2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

Besides its influential teacher union, Taiwan has a powerful parent union that appears to cause at least as much harm as it does good.

11/11/2013

De Blasio’s Education Agenda Is Full of Hot Air

De Blasio would’ve done more to persuade education-reformers that he’s serious if he’d dispensed with 24-point agendas and instead said who he’d hire as schools chancellor.

11/05/2013

Japan’s Robin Hood School-Voucher Program

The Abe government has proposed to impose tuition charges for public high school attendance by children of wealthy families and to use the proceeds from that tuition charge to subsidize the attendance of low income children in private schools.

11/01/2013

Common Core in the Schools: A First Look at Reading Assignments

Common Core standards expect English language arts teachers to do things very differently than they have in the past. Will that really happen?

10/31/2013

Rethinking High School

As waves of reforms and would-be reforms have washed over American public education these past three decades, high schools have mostly stayed dry.

10/15/2013

Two Speeches

Although the latest glum international-education data weren’t even released until this week, last week brought a pair of provocative and contrasting speeches about the state of American education in 2013, both of which repay close attention.

10/11/2013

Governance Matters

Tucked away in Amanda Ripley’s pages are a number of examples of how Finland, South Korea and Poland organize and govern their education systems, and these are illuminating as well as actionable in the policy realm.

09/20/2013

Don’t Say You Weren’t Warned!

Don’t call me and my friends Chicken Littles. The sky was beginning to fall three decades ago.

09/18/2013

What Parents Want—and How Policymakers Can Provide It

Most parents want a strong core curriculum in reading and math and an emphasis on STEM subjects, but once these non-negotiables are satisfied, different parents want different things; some seek high test scores, others favor vocational training, some want diversity, and others value art and music.

08/27/2013

Let’s Hear It For Proficiency

Kids can show plenty of “growth” in school but still not be ready for college because they aren’t actually proficient. This is why absolute levels matter and why schools should be judged in part by how many of the students emerging from them are truly college and career ready.

08/19/2013

Partisanship and Bipartisanship

Gridlock and stasis don’t seem to be leaving the K–12 space in Washington anytime soon.

07/29/2013

Chicken Little Goes to School

The Common Core sky is not falling. Rather, the Common Core is right sizing.

07/26/2013

Implementation, Implementation, Assessment, Assessment

For the Common Core standards really to take root and blossom, every state that claims to follow them faces a mammoth implementation challenge.

07/18/2013

Summer School for Republicans

Add education to a long list of federal policy issues that vex and perplex today’s fractured Republican Party.

07/12/2013
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