Installment 19: Audio & Video Transcripts

Audio Clip 1: June 2014, Stanford Emeriti/ae Council Autobiography Presentation

(15 seconds)

Mike Kirst: I used to tell my students that for me this 2010-[20]14 period was the rise of the septuagenarians. And I’m looking forward to the rise of the octogenarians in education policy. So, we’ll see where that goes.”


Audio Clip 2: Dick Jung’s recording at January 19, 2019 retirement event for Mike Kirst

(1 minute 01 seconds)

Sue Burr: (Former Executive Director of the State Board and an education adviser to Brown in 2011-2012 who helped shape the adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula).

I just want to say, having had the opportunity to witness Mike with the governor on many different occasions, he was the most appropriate sparring partner for the governor, in an intellectual way.

For those of you who have dealt with the governor, you know what that means; it can be exhausting, but unbelievably invigorating.  And nobody was a better intellectual sparring partner than Mike Kirst.

Just on my own behalf, I just have to say it’s been an incredible privilege. Mike and I have known each other going back to my days in the state senate in the 1980s.

But over the past eight years, I’ve had such a wonderful opportunity to work directly with Mike. He’s one of the best bosses I’ve ever had, an incredible mentor and colleague. And so, for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

I just want to close by saying that California students have been and will be enriched for generations to come by the groundbreaking policies that were developed and implemented on your watch, Mike.


Audio Clip 3: Dick Jung’s recording at January 19, 2019 retirement event for Mike Kirst

(2 minutes, 08 seconds)

Mike Kirst: (Talking through the applause) Well, thank you for coming. And all of these people, I’m humbled by the turnout. What a great venue. I mean, a bar with all the beer that I can handle (Laughter). For a guy like me, that’s a really good idea (More laughter).

I owe a lot to a lot of people. And, Jerry Brown was, of course, one. I was particularly touched by the fact that he called me last night to say that he wished he could be here. So, I think the relationship with the governor is so powerful….

And as for these years, you can’t do it without good staff. And I’ve had a wonderful staff. Sue Burr was the original executive director [and] Karen Stapf Walters, six years as executive director of the board, has been terrific. And a lot of our staff from the state board is here tonight. I think they’re really part of this in the way that they didn’t get credit for in the media….

Moreover, nothing can be done at the state level without the California Department of Education. And the relationship that we formed with the California Department of Education, I hope, has broken this long argument between the superintendent, the governor, the legislature, and so on, and has brought some harmony certainly to the board and the superintendent. So, for the California Department of Education staff, I’m also very grateful.

I think that the board members are, of course….it’s an eleven-member board and I guess I’m the president, but you still have to work together. And the tone of the board and the respect for each other, the way we specialized in particular areas through setting up liaisons that were very effective….

And I’m glad that some people can be here. My daughter is here, my granddaughter is here. I hope some of them can meet you. And a lot of old friends.

As to me, I’m going to, on the K-12 [front], take some months, and see what happens. It’s a changing landscape.  It’s uncertain…


Audio Clip 4: Dick Jung’s recording at January 19, 2019 retirement event for Mike Kirst

(1 minute, 16 seconds)

David Plank: (Served as Executive Director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) for 11 years, retiring in 2018.)

What he [Mike Kirst] was able to do in the last eight years is to bring a lifetime of research on education policy and a serious engagement over decades in how research affects policy to get into the state board–where Governor Brown actually gave him real power to effect change.

And I’ll say in parentheses, by the way, this is not something that I would offer to many professors, [inaudible over some laughter] as a good idea.

So, as I have said already, Mike has been the guiding spirit behind the genuine fundamental transformation in the way California funds its schools. And as he would be the first to acknowledge, we’re still in the early days of this transformation and the practical challenges of implementing a decade’s worth of changes–in ways that will improve the lives of California’s children in California schools.

Mike’s leadership has helped to put us on the path to a better future for our kids in our schools. And I’m sure that he will agree that’s been his biggest legacy. So, on behalf of your friends and colleagues and your fellow citizens of California, thanks, Mike.


Audio Clip 5: Dick Jung interview with Chester (Checker) Finn, October 25, 2018

(1 minute, 41 seconds)

When you work closely with a politician, you are bound to come in for some criticism from academics. You’ve sold your soul. You’re doing the things you don’t believe in. You’ve gone partisan, you’ve lost your objectivity; you’ve departed from the data.

Part of it is envy because they can’t get close to politicians, they can’t get their names in the newspapers, and they don’t make important decisions. They just kibitz and scribble.

So, part of its envy. But part of it is another kind of what people will regard as a loss of virtue or a loss of integrity–when you allow yourself, a scholar, to go into the employ of a politician.

It is what your academic colleagues end up saying about you, and there’s always some justification for it because you’ve always had to defend the position that your political boss ends up taking.

But if you want to stay and be influential and feel like your influence is of value to the world in the long run and worth maintaining, then you do go out and defend the decision that was made even if it’s not the one you thought should have been made.

So that comes with the territory of being two-footed and having a foot in each camp is that you’re not going to be 100 percent satisfactory to either one.  


Audio Clip 6: Dick Jung interview with Mike Kirst, June 2, 2022

(1 minute, 02 seconds)

I think the main thing is that I’ve wanted to reflect and look at what we had done in the past years on the board and look at what I had done over my career and see what were the lessons that could be learned to bear on what had been accomplished in California and with implications across my whole findings in my career in writing.

And then fill a hole, which I had left, which I knew when I left–which was the financing of education for children with disabilities, otherwise known as special ed.

We passed on that in the Brown era, and really in the 2008 paper because it’s just so complex; it’s a separate categorical of its own.

And so that was something that I thought I needed to try and work on,  stimulating some action to create something in that field, which absorbs 15 to 20% of the districts’ budgets in a lot of the major cities.