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Installments

Tenth Installment: Let’s Get Personal, “From Fraternity to Paternity”

Jim Kelly, founder and past CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and life-long friend of Mike Kirst who set up the first date with his wife Wendy, gave me this advice when starting this biography project: “You’ve gotta write about all [the] serious stuff, but make sure you don’t drift off into ‘do-gooder drivel’ and thus miss the ‘whole guy.’

So that’s the emphasis of this and the next “Let’s Get Personal” installments. This episode puts a spotlight on Mike’s early Dartmouth fraternity years, the start of his family, and his meeting and courting his wife Wendy. I think you’ll enjoy finding out a bit more about Mike, ‘the whole guy.”

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White House Fellows Mike Kirst President Lyndon Johnson Oval Office White House

Ninth Installment: A Young Dr. Michael Kirst Goes To Washington

In this installment, Mike reflects on his transition to and doctoral studies at Harvard, including receiving some bad advice from his college advisors but also making a key—and, as it turns out, long-term and multifaceted—connection with John W. Gardner, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, known as “one of the most powerful behind-the-scenes figures in education.” We’ll also hear how a very young Mike first met President Lyndon B. Johnson and served, like his mentor Mr. Gardner, as a behind-the-scenes advisor at the inception of still today the largest federal education program—the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)—as well as helped introduce the President to the woman who wrote Johnson’s best-selling biography.

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Who Controls Our Schools? Book Cover

Eighth Installment: Who Controls Our Schools? The Genesis

As the coronavirus pandemic has spread across the world,  federal, state, and local officials in the U.S.  are not only arguing over what to do but also over who has the authority to do it. As of the writing, in the spring of 2020, nearly all public and independent schools are closed in this country due to this global calamity. How and when American schools will reopen, and who will make that decision, are widely debated, prompting us to recall Mike’s most widely read book—Who Controls Our Schools?: American Values in Conflict.

In this installment, we explore how early in his studies, Mike began to formulate this question and eventually answer it in a way that demonstrates its complexities—which will help us to understand better the “Who’s in charge of American schools” question in this pandemic era.

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Seventh Installment: The Early Influences, Part 2

Indeed, internet searches have uncovered leads to aspects of Mike’s early years that have even intrigued him: “I keep finding out new things,” Mike Kirst wrote to me after the publication of the previous installment. This installment also draws on oral history interviews that Mike recorded for “The States’ Impact on Federal Education Policy Oral History Project” compiled in 2013 by the New York Archives.

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Sixth Installment: Early Influences, Part 1

We hear first-hand in this installment about the earliest influences on Mike Kirst’s personal development and his more than half-century-long contributions to reforming American education. We’ll first hear Mike talking about growing up in Reading, Pennsylvania and important personal insights about his family. We then find out about, often in Mike’s own words, about three important turning points during Mike’s high school and college years — with particular focus on the opportunities afforded by Dartmouth University for a young man who grew up in his own words “in the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania.”

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Fifth Installment: Three Lessons from a Long Career

This installment draws on a 2015 interview with Mike for highlights of “what Mike has…learned.” Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis (CEPA) asked a handful of its top researchers to reflect on the most important conclusions, implications, or lessons from their bodies of work. By the time of the interview, Mike was serving his fourth term with Jerry Brown as President of the California State Board of Education.

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Glen Harvey, Chief Executive Officer, WestEd: San Francisco, CA

When Mike came to WestEd yesterday to discuss the math achievement gap in CA, I re-listened to Installment 3. Great stuff! Congratulations!

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About the Project

The purpose of this biography project is to make a fascinating man’s life and accomplishments come alive. Dr. Michael W. Kirst, while recognized in influential academic and policy circles, is generally unknown to those most actively engaged in American education in the trenches of the nation’s classrooms and local boardrooms, including teachers, principals, and school district leaders.

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About the Author

Dick Jung first met Dr. Michael W. Kirst four decades ago. Mike, then Professor in the Schools of Education and Business, was completing his first year as President of California’s State Board of Education. During Jerry Brown’s first term as Governor, as Mike tacked between Palo Alto and Sacramento, Dick served as the Teaching Assistant for Mike’s Stanford “Politics of Education” course.

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About the Team

Dick is supported by a project team of content, digital research, and online experts that includes a senior education policy reviewer, a digital archives manager, and a website and multimedia design coordinator.

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