Neves-Evans Lecture

State School Board President Explores "California K-12 Education: Challenges And Solutions," March 22
March 19, 2012
Michael Kirst

What does the President of the California State Board of Education think about the current state of the educational system?

Dr. Michael W. Kirst delivers his overarching vision for California to emerge once again as a national leader in education from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 in the Cooperage as a part of the Andrea Neves and Bart Evans Social Justice Lecture Series.

His talk - "California K-12 Education: Challenges And Solutions" - addresses the current state of affairs of a state public school system stretched to the limit but aspiring to greatnesss once again.

Kirst is serving his second term as President of the State Board of Education and is also Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University.

Kirst's aims to rebuild and re-imagine the public education system through a set of policies that include stabilizing education funding and increase local flexibility, implementing the Common Core Standards, strengthening the teacher workforce, building district and school leadership capacity, supporting innovation, but ensure accountability, facilitating the best uses of technology and ensuring that all students are included.

"Our goal is to dramatically improve the academic achievement and attainment of all students, regardless of proficiency, but with targeted attention to raising achievement and opportunities low income and minority students," he says.

A prolific writer, he has authored ten books. As a policy generalist, he has published articles on school finance politics, curriculum politics, intergovernmental relations, as well as education reform policies.

While his early work focused primarily on k-12 policy and politics, much of his recent work has focused on college preparation and college success at broad access postsecondary institutions that are open enrollment, or accept all qualified applicants.

The disconnections between k-12 and postsecondary education cause much of the low college completion rates, he says. Kirst's research demonstrates that only K-12 and postsecondary education working together to improve preparation and college readiness will increase college completion.

Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1969, 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 for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Office of Education.

He received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. His latest books are "From High School to College" with Andrea Venezia (2004) and "Political Dynamics of American Education" (2009).

Kirst was appointed in 2011 as the President of the California State Board of Education for the second time. He also was President from 1977 to 1981. He 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.

For more on his background, visit

His college success blog can be found at

For further information about the event, contact Pam Van Halsema, School of Education, (707) 664-2132.