EdSource Book Review by John Fensterwald

"Conversations With and About Mike"

I had the pleasure of speaking on a video call with John Fensterwald, EdSource writer, about the book project. His questions were spot on and gave me a chance to explain why I started with this multi-media project and moved into print. I am so very grateful for the support of EdSource. I hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

You’ll find questions like, EdSource: Life can take serendipitous turns. Mike never expected to be at Stanford and never expected to stay in Stanford for very long. How did he get to Stanford in 1968?

New biography examines Michael Kirst’s impact on public education in California and beyond

For more than six decades, Michael Kirst has made a mark on public education. Starting fresh out of graduate school to draft Title I legislation that was part of President Lyndon Johnson’s vision for a Great Society, Kirst has had multiple careers.

Author and professor emeritus of education and business administration at Stanford University, Kirst is best known by Californians as president of the State Board of Education for all four of Jerry Brown’s terms as governor and the architect of the Local Control Funding Formula, which remade the state’s K-12 financing and school accountability system.

Now he is also the subject of a new biography by Richard “Dick” Jung. A retired teacher, headmaster, and adviser to independent schools in the Washington, D.C., area, Jung has known Kirst since he first took his course on the politics of education at Stanford and became Kirst’s teaching assistant.

In “Michael Kirst: an Uncommon Academic,” Jung chronicles Kirst’s life, his work, and the evolution of his thinking about the role of the federal and state governments in education. The book includes QR coding that links readers to audio and video clips of Kirst and Jung’s conversations with Brown, whom Kirst advised for half a century and others who knew and worked with Kirst.

EdSource asked Jung about his insights on what made Kirst an effective academic and policymaker during an interview earlier this month that has been condensed for length. “Michael Kirst: An Uncommon Academic” can be purchased on Amazon. Jung is donating proceeds from the book to EdSource.

To read and hear the entire article, visit the EdSource website.

Editor’s Note: The Appendix for “Conversations With and About Mike” contains transcripts for the recorded audio and video clips. To view the Audio Transcripts go to this page >