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Stanford Faculty Oral History Project Interview

"Conversations With and About Mike"

Background: Stanford Oral History Program

Kirst, Michael W.
Kirst, Michael W.
Stanford Historical Society
Diamond, Diana
January 28, 2013
Mixed material
Michael W. Kirst discussed his more than forty years of work in national, state, local and academic issues in education. He looked at the problems he had seen in California’s education system, his work as president of the State Board of Education both in the late 1970s and since 2011, and his role at Stanford in shaping the School of Education which has recently been renamed the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and some of its courses. Kirst also talked about the problems of training, hiring and firing teachers, and whether early teacher tenure (for example, after two years of teaching) was a good idea. The union influence was strong, he noted.
Michael W. Kirst (2013). Oral history. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:
Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program interviews, 1999-2017
Finding aid
Michael Kirst
Stanford Historical Society
Oral histories
California Department of Education
California State Board of Education
Education Economics
Policy Analysis for California Education
Stanford University School of Education
Access conditions
The materials are open for research use and may be used freely for non-commercial purposes with an attribution. For commercial permission requests, please contact the Stanford University Archives (


This interview was carried out by the Stanford Oral History Program, sponsored by the Stanford Historical Society and the Stanford University Archives. The Stanford Oral History Program is under the direction of the Oral History Committee of the Stanford Historical Society. The interview was conducted in 2013 by Diana Diamond, newspaper columnist/editor, and former special assistant to the president of the university, the dean of the School of Medicine, and the CEO of Stanford University Hospital. The transcript and recording are part of a collection of oral history interviews documenting the history of the University and the experiences, accomplishments, and viewpoints of members of the Stanford community.

The transcript was lightly edited by program staff and by Michael W. Kirst to correct grammar and occasional inaccuracies and to aid in overall readability, while maintaining the interviewee’s voice as well as the substantive content of the interview. As a result of this process, the transcript does not match the recording verbatim. In the case a substantive deletion was made, it would be so indicated where appropriate on the transcript. The oral history itself is an authentic account of the remembered past, but as memory and meaning vary from person to person, the interview may inadvertently include factual errors or discrepancies.

All uses of the interview transcript are covered by a legal agreement between Michael W. Kirst and the Stanford Oral History Program. The transcript is thereby made available for scholarly purposes in the Stanford University Archives. The copyright to the transcript including the right to publish is reserved to Stanford University. No part of the transcript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Stanford University Archivist or his/her representative.

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the University Archivist at the Stanford University Archives, Green Library, 557 Escondido Mall, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305, and should include specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.

This oral history should be cited as “Michael W. Kirst, Stanford Historical Society Oral History Program Interviews (SC0932). Department of Special Collections & University Archives, Stanford University Libraries & Academic Information Resources, Stanford, Calif.”

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 >


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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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