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Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik

Thursday February 2008


Chester E. Finn, Jr. President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Introduction: Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education, New York University, Historian and Author, Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform

Few people have been more involved in shaping postwar U.S. education reforms than Chester Finn.

Assistant secretary of education under Ronald Reagan, an aide to Richard Nixon and Daniel Moynihan, Finn has also been a high school teacher, an education professor, a think tank analyst, a nonprofit president, and both a Democrat and Republican. His varied career has given him an insider’s view--and often a contrarian’s view--on every significant school-reform movement of the past four decades, from racial integration of schools to No Child Left Behind.

Finn explains how his experiences have shaped his changing views of postwar school reforms. He argues that a combination of approaches has the greatest potential, giving ground for hope that today’s initiatives--from charter schools to technology to makeovers of school-system governance--are making a difference.