Next year will bring a number of changes that will directly impact K-12 education in California. This election year will bring us a new governor and new superintendent of public instruction. But on the non-electoral side, we will also have a new president of the State Board of Education, as current President Mike Kirst has announced he will be retiring from his post in January 2019.
Kirst’s retirement is not totally unexpected. He has been closely tied to Gov. Jerry Brown as his primary education advisor for more than four decades. At 78 years old, Kirst is certainly due for a well-earned retirement after many years of public service.
Kirst alluded to the fact that Brown was termed out in his brief announcement on his retirement decision.
“We’ll have a new governor in 2019 and I will not share that same relationship with him or her. I couldn’t unless we had somehow met in 1974 and begun working together then. And so, it feels right to leave the board simultaneously,” Kirst said.
Although Kirst has had a long list of accomplishments in education, perhaps the biggest contribution he will be remembered for is his leadership role in creating the Local Control Funding Formula with Brown. As Board President, Kirst presided over more than two years of sometimes contentious meetings as the SBE established regulations and adopted the Local Control and Accountability Plan template.
Certainly, ACSA is well aware of his many accomplishments, naming Kirst an ACSA Friend of Education Award recipient in 2015.
In addition, during his tenure on the State Board, California adopted new standards in English language arts, mathematics and science. More recently, Kirst provided expertise and leadership as California negotiated with the U.S. Department of Education regarding California’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan.
Kirst, a professor emeritus with Stanford University, served two terms as president of the State Board of Education. His first term was 1975-82, and then again in 2011 to this year. Before joining the Stanford faculty, Kirst served in a number of roles with the federal government, including a position as Director of Program Planning and Evaluation for the Bureau of Elementary and Secondary Education in the U.S. Department of Education
ACSA Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez covers the State Board for the association and noted that Kirst will be difficult to replace.
“During his tenure, Mike Kirst has brilliantly and carefully balanced his perspective on the board as a researcher and academic, while weighing the policy implications and realities of the challenges faced by practitioners in the field,” she said.
The next California governor will appoint a new SBE president and fill any vacant positions on the board.