Michael W. Kirst

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Michael W. Kirst
Michael K. Kirst.jpg
Born (1939-08-01) August 1, 1939 (age 78)
West Reading, PA
Residence Stanford, California
Nationality United States
Education Dartmouth College, B.A. (Economics), 1961
Harvard University, M.B.A (Government and Economics), 1963
Harvard University, Ph.D. (Political Economy and Government), 1964
Employer California State Board of Education
Stanford University

Michael (Mike) W. Kirst is the current President of the California State Board of Education and Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University.[1][2] The book he co-authored with Frederick Wirth, The Political Dynamics of American Education (now in its fourth edition), is widely used in the politics of education. In 2011, Kirst became the President of the California State Board of Education for the second time, after serving as President from 1977 to 1981.[1][3][4] He is currently working with Governor Jerry Brown to increase funds to California schools.[5]


Michael Kirst was born on August 1, 1939 in West Reading, Pennsylvania. He is married to Wendy Burdsall Kirst, with whom he has two children, Anne and Michael.

Michael received his bachelor's degree in Economics from Dartmouth College in 1961. In 1963, he received his M.P.A. in Government and Economics from Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Economy and Government from Harvard in 1964.[2][6]

Dr. Kirst worked for the federal government before joining the faculty at Stanford. He held several positions, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty, and Director of Program Planning and Evaluation for the Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education. He also held positions in the federal Office of Management and Budget, the White House Fellows, and worked as a program analyst for the Title I Elementary and Secondary Education Act Program since it began in 1965.[2][4]

Dr. Kirst also participates in a variety of professional organizations. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has been a member of the National Academy of Education since 1979. He was Vice‑President of the American Educational Research Association and a commissioner of the Education Commission of the States. Kirst co-founded Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE).[1][4] Dr. Kirst publishes several entries a week in his blog, The College Puzzle.[7]

On April 7, 2017, Dr. Kirst received the James A. Kelly Award for Advancing Accomplished Teaching from the National Board. The award, named after James A. Kelly, Founding President and CEO of the National Board, recognizes and honors individuals who have contributed to the advancement of accomplished teaching.[8]

Regarding Dr. Kirst, Peggy Brookins, NBCT and the National Board’s president and CEO, shared: "Michael has been and continues to be a powerful voice in education for a long time. His passionate commitment in support of America’s schoolchildren, teachers and schools will have an impact for years to come...In the early days of the National Board, Mike was a valued senior consultant as we devised strategies to achieve significant state policy and financial support for National Board Certification and National Board Certified Teachers.”[9]

Current Research[edit]

Dr. Kirst currently works as Co-Principal Investigator For the Gates Foundation Grant. He co-authored “Reform And Innovation In The New Ecology of American Higher Education”, 2010-2013, a proposal to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[10] He also served as the Principal Investigator for the Community College Implementation of California Early Assessment Program from 2008-2010.[1]

Dr. Kirst also serves as an education advisor to California Governor Jerry Brown. He is the longest-serving State Board of Education president,[11] having been appointed twice by Brown. Governor Brown credits Dr. Kirst with helping to design his education platform in 2010 and directing the state's new school accountability system, expected to be adopted in late 2016.[12]

Dr. Kirst was the architect for California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which requires California school districts to develop three-year Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP)[13] to outline how they will spend funding to improve education for all students.[14] The goal is to create simple school report cards and support low-scoring districts through county offices of education and the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence.[11][15]

Recently, Dr. Kirst has written and advised on education in Silicon Valley, examining the differences in values, norms and change of pace between the post-secondary and higher education systems.[16]

University Positions[edit]

Dr. Kirst has held a variety of university positions throughout his career. At Stanford University, he has served as:

  • Chair, Administration and Policy Analysis, 1984-1992
  • Coordinator, Joint Degrees with Graduate School of Business and School of Education, 1969-2002
  • University Fellow, 1986-1988
  • Chair, Public Service Center Faculty Board, 1989-1991
  • Academic Senate, 1995-1998; 2004-2006[1][17]

Recent Selected Professional Experience[edit]

Dr. Kirst also has extensive professional experience outside of academia:


Dr. Kirst is the author of a variety of literature regarding school finance, curriculum politics, intergovernmental relations, and education reform policies.


  • Higher Education and Silicon Valley (Johns Hopkins University Press: Scott, W. Richard, 2017)[18]
  • Remaking College (Stanford: Stevens, Mitchell, 2015)[19]
  • The Political Dynamics of American Education (Richmond, Ca.:McCutchan, 2009) with Fred Wirt[4]
  • From High School to College: Improving Opportunities for Success in Postsecondary Education (Jossey Bass/Wiley, 2004) with Andrea Venezia.[4]
  • Schools in Conflict: Political Turbulence in American Education (Berkeley: McCutchan, 1992, 3rd edition), with Frederick Wirt. First edition published in 1982.
  • Who Controls Our Schools: American Values in Conflict (New York: W.H. Freeman, 1984).
  • Contemporary Issues in Education: Perspectives from Australia and U.S.A. (Berkeley: McCutchan, 1983), with Greg Hancock and David Grossman.
  • State School Finance Alternatives (Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon, 1975), with L. Pierce, W. Garms, and J. Guthrie.
  • Revising School Finance in Florida (Tallahassee: Florida Governor's Office, 1973), with W. Garms.
  • Federal Aid to Education: Who Governs, Who Benefits (Lexington, Ma.: D.C. Heath, 1972), with Joel Berke.
  • State, School and Politics, Editor (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1972).
  • The Political Web of American Schools (Boston: Little, Brown, 1972), with Frederick Wirt. Revised in 1975 and republished as Political and Social Foundations of Education (Berkeley: McCutchan).
  • The Politics of Education at the Local, State, and Federal Levels, Editor (Berkeley: McCutchan, 1970).
  • Government Without Passing Laws (University of North Carolina Press, 1969).

Dr. Kirst has also written and contributed to 24 monographs, 177 essays, 54 newspaper and magazine articles, and 54 web-based and working papers.[20]

Editorial Boards[edit]

Dr. Kirst has worked on the Editorial Boards of several organizations and publications.

  • American Journal of Education, 1981–84
  • Phi Delta Kappan, 1982–85
  • Education and Urban Society, 1975–94
  • Journal of Education Finance, 1980–82
  • Educational Researcher, News and Comment editor, 1989-1992
  • Founding Associate Editor, Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1979-1984[1]


Many organizations and academies have recognized Dr. Kirst's contributions. Dr. Kirst's honors include:

  • Member, National Academy of Education, since 1979
  • Member International Academy of Education, since 1997
  • Roald E. Campbell Award for Career that Bridges the Gap Between Research and Politics, AERA, 1994
  • California County Superintendents Professional Publication Award, 1999
  • Received the 2010 Outstanding Friend Of Public Education Award from Horace Mann League[1]
  • Received the 2017 James A. Kelly Award from The National Board[21]
  • Received the 2017 Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA)[22]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Michael W. Kirst | Center for Education Policy Analysis". Cepa.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b c d "SBE Members - Policies, Members, & Staff (CA Dept of Education)". Cde.ca.gov. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  3. ^ Chirbas, Kurt (2011-01-12). "Professor to return to State Board of Education seat". Stanford Daily. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Michael Kirst | Policy Analysis for California Education". Edpolicyinca.org. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  5. ^ Najarro, Ileana (2013-01-14). "State budget promises more money in education". Stanford Daily. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  6. ^ "Michael W. Kirst | Center for Education Policy Analysis". Cepa.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2013-10-23. 
  7. ^ Mitra, Dana. "The College Puzzle". Collegepuzzle.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  8. ^ http://www.nbpts.org/newsroom/michael-w-kirst-receive-prestigious-james-kelly-award
  9. ^ http://www.nbpts.org/newsroom/michael-w-kirst-receive-prestigious-james-kelly-award
  10. ^ http://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/2012-01-24%20-%20Reform%20and%20Innovation%20-%20R3.pdf
  11. ^ a b http://paloaltoonline.com/news/2016/07/08/stanfords-michael-kirst-an-innovator-for-education
  12. ^ https://calmatters.org/articles/jerry-brown-on-subsidiarity-meritocracy-and-fads-in-education/
  13. ^ http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/lc/lcffoverview.asp
  14. ^ https://calmatters.org/articles/a-stanford-professor-disrupts-california-schools/
  15. ^ http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2016/07/08/video-behind-the-headlines----innovator-in-education
  16. ^ http://www.cshe.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/u135/2017-01-27_Why%20We%20Need%20a%20Regional%20Approach%20to%20Higher%20Education%20in%20Silicon%20Valley.pdf
  17. ^ http://www.stanforddaily.com/2013/11/04/talking-common-core-standards-with-michael-kirst/
  18. ^ https://books.google.com/books/about/Ambivalent_Allies.html?id=WguHAQAACAAJ
  19. ^ http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=23137
  20. ^ "Publications | Center for Education Policy Analysis". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  21. ^ http://www.nbpts.org/newsroom/michael-w-kirst-receive-prestigious-james-kelly-award
  22. ^ http://www.aera.net/Newsroom/News-Releases-and-Statements/AERA-Announces-2017-Award-Winners-in-Education-Research