ON-Lion Letter

This August, Chester E. Finn, Jr., handed over the reigns as president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C., to Michael J. Petrilli.  Finn took the "opportunity to do some stocktaking, recount a bit of history, and flag some challenges for the future" in a "farewell address" featured on the Institute's Flypaper blog.

Since the early 1980s, Finn asks, "What's been accomplished?"

There are two changes that seem the most profound to Finn.  First, "We now judge schools by their results, not their inputs, intentions, or programs.  The results we focus on deal, for the most part, with pupil achievement."  Second, "Choice among schools (and other education-delivery systems such as virtual learning, home schooling, and more) has become almost ubiquitous.

"[R]eformers have much to be proud of -- and millions of American children (and the nation itself) now benefit from the fruits of their labors," according to Finn.  "But we have so far still to go.  The important changes that we’ve planted haven’t yet yielded enough of an achievement harvest, particularly at the end of high school, when it matters most, and we continue to wrestle with their implementation."

He then lists challenges in the areas of governance, leadership, curriculum and instruction, high-ability students, preparation of educators, among others.

"You can count on the Fordham Institute to stay out front on these issues and others that arise," he writes, noting that Fordham is evolving.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports Fordham projects.

"I get to move downstairs, cut back a little, and evolve a bit myself, as I should," Finn concludes.  "But I’m not riding off into the sunset.  In the months and years ahead, I’ll still be at Fordham (and Hoover), with fewer day-to-day responsibilities and thus more opportunity than ever to make trouble for those who deserve it."

Actions: E-mail | Permalink |