Michael W. Kirst

The longest serving President of California State Board of Education with his second and final term from 2011 to 2019; Stanford Emeritus Professor of Education (and Business Administration by courtesy) Affiliated Faculty, Political Science

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University. In 2011, Kirst became the President of the California State Board Of Education for the second time. Professor Kirst was a member of the California State Board of Education (1975/1982) and its president from 1977 to 1981.

Dr. Kirst received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College, his M.P.A. in government and economics from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard.

Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty, and Director of Program Planning and Evaluation for the Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Office of Education (now the U.S. Department of Education). He was a Budget Examiner in the Federal office of Budget and Management, and Associate Director of the White House Fellows. He was a program analyst for the Title I ESEA Program at its inception in 1965.

Dr. Kirst is active in several professional organizations. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences. He has been a member of the National Academy of Education since 1979. He was Vice‑President of the American Educational Research Association and a commissioner of the Education Commission of the States. Kirst co-founded Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE).

A prolific writer, Dr. Kirst has authored ten books, including The Political Dynamics of American Education (2009). As a policy generalist, Professor Kirst has published articles on school finance politics, curriculum politics, intergovernmental relations, as well as education reform policies.

His recent book, From High School to College (2004), concerns improving student preparation for success in postsecondary education. His latest books are Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education,  (2015 with Mitchell Stevens), and Higher Education and Silicon Valley: Connected But Conflicted (2017) with Richard Scott.

Curriculum Vitae: 
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Co-Principal Investigator For Gates Foundation Grant, “Reform And Innovation In The New Ecology of American Higher Education”, 2010-2013. Principal Investigator, Community College Implementation of California Early Assessment Program. 2008-2010.


A.B. - Dartmouth College, 1961, Economics (highest honors); Alfred P. Sloan Fellow; Phi Beta Kappa; Summa Cum Laude M.P.A. - Harvard University, 1963, Government and Economics; Dartmouth General Fellow; Harvard Administration Fellow; Chairman, Class Committee. Ph.D. - Harvard University, 1964, Political Economy and Government.


Professor of Education; courtesy appointment, Business Administration; affiliated faculty, Political Science and Public Policy, Stanford University, 1969 -2006. Professor Emeritus- 2007 President, California State Board of Education, 2011-2013 and 1977-1981; Member, 1975-1977. Staff Director, U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty, Washington, D.C. (editor and author of numerous committee background readings and working papers), 1968-1969. Director, Program Planning and Evaluation, Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education, U.S. Office of Education, Washington, D.C., 1967. Associate Director, President's Commission on White House Fellows; National Advisory Council on Education of Disadvantaged Children, Washington, D.C., 1966. Budget Examiner, U.S. Bureau of the Budget (Office of Education), 1964-1965.

University postions: 

Chair, Administration and Policy Analysis, 1984-1992 Coordinator, Joint Degrees with Graduate School of Business and School of Education, 1969-2002. University Fellow, 1986-1988 Chair, Public Service Center Faculty Board, 1989-1991 Academic Senate, 1995-1998; 2004-2006

Professional positions: 

Commissioner, Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, 2011-present Board Member, Edvoice, 1999-2009 Board member, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, 2008-present Senior Fellow, National Center For Public Policy and Higher Education, San Jose, Ca- 2007-present Board member, Silicon Valley Education Foundation- 2007-present Management Board, Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) (1992-present). Chair, Technical Panel on 12th Grade Preparedness Research, National Assesssment Governing Board, 2007-2009. Co-Director, Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) (1983-2005). Member, Learning Committee, California State Master Plan for Education 2000-2002. Co-Chair, Technical Advisory Committee, California High School Exit Exam, 2000-2001. Chairman, Board of International Comparative Studies in Education, National Academy of Sciences, 1993-1998. Member, Board on Testing and Assessment, National Academy of Sciences, 1993-1998. Member, Federal Advisory Commission on Education Statistics, 1994-1997, U.S. Department of Education. Co-Editor, Educational Researcher, published by AERA, 1988-1992. Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1980 Member, International Academy of Education, 1997 to present Vice President, American Educational Research Association (AERA); President, Division G AERA-Social Context of Education, 1977-79; Chairman, AERA Special Interest Group in Politics of Education, 1972-74 and 1986-88. Commissioner, Education Commission of the States, 1977-81. Elected member of Steering Committee, 1978. Associate Editor, Journal of Educational Evaluation and Policy, published by AERA, 1978-82. Responsible for manuscript review and interview section. White House Fellows Association. Research travel grants, German Academic Exchange Service, U.S.-Japan Foundation, and U.S. State Department (Italy, Spain, France, Hungary). Visiting Professor, Stanford at Oxford, Winter, 1999. Visiting Professor, Central European University, Summer 1999, Budapest, Hungary. Member, National Research Council, Steering Committee for the Workshop on Higher Education Admissions, 1998-99. Member, Oakland Mayor’s Commission on Education, 1999. Chair, National Assessment Governing Board Technical Panel on 12th Grade Preparedness Research. 2008-2009 Reviewer, Race To The Top State Grant Competition, 2010 Research Advisory Council, American Council On Education (ACE), 2005-2008.

  • Member, National Academy of Education, since 1979
  • Member International Academy of Education, since 1997
  • Roald E. Campbell Award for Career that Bridges the Gap Between Research and Politics, AERA, 1994.
  • California County Superintendents Professional Publication Award, 1999.
  • Horace Mann League : Outstanding Friend Of Public Education Award, 2010.
Service/Advisory Boards/Other: 
  • American Journal of Education, 1981-84
  • Phi Delta Kappan, 1982-85
  • Education and Urban Society, 1975-94
  • Journal of Education Finance, 1980-82
  • Educational Researcher, News and Comment editor, 1989-1992
  • Founding Associate Editor, Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 1979-1984.