Installment 14: Audio Transcripts

Audio Clip 1: Jerry Brown: I met Mike Kirst “at Stanford, preceding my race for governor” in 1974 (Dick Jung interview, January 4, 2019, 0:13)


Jerry Brown: I believe we connected at a small meeting at Stanford with Mike Boskin and Mike Kirst and others talking about issues preceding my race for governor.


Audio Clip 2: Mike Kirst: How and Why Jerry Brown “sought me out, and we clicked.”
(1 minute 04 seconds)  (Diana Dimond interview for the Stanford Oral History Project, January 28, 2013, 1:16)


Mike Kirst:  The friend of a business school professor I know, Harry Rowen, has been a very famous guy, and I knew him somewhat from the federal government. He said that Jerry Brown was looking for somebody who was an expert on California education. And even though I only came here in 1969, I’d built up some specialty in California school funding and policy. So, I met Brown and— 

Diana Diamond: He was governor then?

Mike Kirst: No, he was Secretary of State. And he was looking to get advice on key policy areas for his [gubernatorial] campaign and then for his governorship. One of the key issues was school finance equity, where our state finance system was dependent on the local property base. So, some districts had huge property bases and others didn’t.

So, he sought me out, and we clicked.

And then I was his campaign advisor, and he was always asked these questions on education finance in the debates. Then I was his initial appointee to the State Board of Education in 1975, as I was in 2010.


Audio Clip 3: Mike Kirst catches on quickly to Jerry Brown’s Jesuit way of thinking
(Stanford Emeriti Council presentation, 2014, 1:08)


Mike Kirst:  And so, we [Mike and Jerry Brown at their initial meeting] talked briefly. And he [Jerry Brown] said he had like a tryout thing where we went to an old abandoned Catholic nunnery. And we were asked to say what you would do if you were the next governor [in your area of expertise].

So, I made this presentation, and then I quickly picked up what was going on: I’d say ”A” he’d say “Z.”  If I went over to “Z” he’d say “A.”

So, it was a right away “a Jesuitical” debate (to laughter in the audience as Mike stumbles a bit on his pronunciation of the adjective form of Jesuit). And, you know, so I would always think, “ Well, where do I want to be on “A” to “Z” because he’ll counter.”

And so, we got along fine. And so, I was his campaign adviser.

At that time there was a decision called the Serrano school finance decision where the California Supreme Court declared the whole state system unconstitutional. And Brown knew this was a top issue. And he knew he would get asked this in the debate, and he’d have to really cover this.

So, we spent a lot of time working on that and working together.


Audio Clip 4: Jerry Brown:  “We could actually work together in the drafting of ideas and policies.” (Dick Jung interview, January 4, 2019, 1:12)


Dick Jung: In essence, what is it that Mike brings to you that’s most important?

Jerry Brown: Well, I’ll get right to the point. I was writing an educational paper or platform, a few pages—10 or so objectives, goals—when I was running for governor. And I would get on the computer and type it. But I’d get him on the other end, and we talk about it. And he would revise, and we would share. So, we could actually work together on the drafting of ideas and policies. That was in the campaign. And of course, is the precursor to the actual governing. That’s why it’s unusual for an academic and an elected politician to work so amiably and so closely together.


Audio Clip 5: Mike Kirst On Early Connections With Wilson Riles:  “I liked him so much. We had such a great relationship…” (Dick Jung interview, August 23, 2021, 1:24)


Mike Kirst:  I liked him so much. We had such a great relationship.

I knew Riles from the federal government.  That’s important.

When I worked in Title I, I was given California as a state to work with by Jack Hughes (director of the Title I program at the time).

And so, I made my first trip to California, which I’ll never forget. I flew out to review for the federal government the Title I program in California. And the Director of Compensatory Education was Wilson Riles. He had not been elected at that point.

I met him and his executive assistant, Marion Joseph. And we got along great. And they were doing a great job…

But more importantly, when I came to California, then he (Riles) immediately appointed me to the Advisory Commission called the Educational Management and Evaluation Commission–which advised the department on how to structure evaluations of categorical programs (and) management issues within the department and assessment issues.

So, I was on one of his advisor commissions, which I attended, and we met in San Francisco. So, you know, we worked together closely.