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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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City of San FranciscoCandidate for Board of Education

Photo of John D. Trasviña

John D. Trasviña

Law School Dean
46,601 votes (5.7%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Strengthen math education so more can take 8th Grade ALGEBRA
  • Close achievement gap w/Latino Education Initiative
  • Re-engage Parents by Ending Enrollment Lottery & Promoting Quality Neighborhood Schools everywhere



Profession:Law School Dean, former Obama Admin. Official
Law School Dean, University of San Francisco (2013–2018)
President & General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (2005–2009)
Deputy City Attorney, San Francisco City Attorney Office — Appointed position (1983–1985)


Lowell High School, San Francisco High School Diploma, The basics (1976)


I'm a proud product of our San Francisco public schools.  My teachers at Commodore Sloat, Aptos and Lowell High prepared me well for Harvard University, Stanford Law School and a career in public service, civil rights and education.  My activism began early.  When I was 10, I walked on the first SF teachers' picket line with my mother, one of the first SF junior high bilingual teachers at James Lick. We marched against the war and in support of Cesar Chavez and the grape boycott. As a Lowell High student, I was one of the first students to serve on the SF Board of Education.  Since then, I have served as President Obama's HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and led the federal government's only office devoted to immigrant workplace rights in the Clinton Administration.  And I was the President of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. 

In 2013, I came home from Washington DC to help care for my elderly parents.  I was Dean of USF School of Law for five years. In making USF the second most diverse law school in the nation and building enrollment pipelines back to high schools, it was clear to me that the most essential contribution I could make to the next generation was at the youngest end of the educational spectrum: PreKindergarten and elementary/secondary education.  We must do more at the youngest ages to prepare young people for school through study skills and enrichment and helping their parents fulfill their responsibilities to support their children's education even before they send them to school.  

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Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My educational philosophy brings together excellence with equality.  The two are not mutually exclusive and I disagree with the current Board of Education approaches.   I disagree with the Board's decision to no longer offer Algebra to 8th graders even to those students who want it and are ready for it.  The District has taken away a crucial springboard to calculus and eventual engineering careers.  We can all see Salesforce Tower and our students need to have a pathway to get there.  The answer is not to deny 8th grade Algebra to some but to increase our teaching, mentoring, coaching and tutoring so that more children of every background are ready to enroll in it and pass the course.  

I am the only candidate to call for a Latino Education Initiative.  As a long time educational manager and civil rights leader, I see the value of this initiative as a management and accountability tool so that we as board members, teachers, parents and community members know it's a priority for the District, establish effective partnerships, identify concrete goals and provide the necessary resources for teachers and schools to involve parents and improve educational outcomes.  

I realize I do not have "all the answers".  As an inclusive leader, I will look to parent and community organizations for their input and expertise and work with all stakeholders to make the right decisions and oversee implementation by the District staff.   

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