July 18, 2014, Washington, D.C. – Richard Amir Tahvildaran-Jesswein, an educator and community leader, is seeking a seat on Board of Education for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. If successful, he will be the first Iranian American elected to public office in Santa Monica and amongst a small group of elected Iranian Americans throughout the nation.
A first-generation Iranian American and California native, Tahvildaran-Jesswein earned a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University, Hayward, a Master's Degree from California State University, San Francisco, and a Doctorate degree from Northern Arizona University. A tenured full professor teaching American Politics and Difference Theory at Santa Monica College, Tahvildaran-Jesswein serves as the Associate Director of the college’s Public Policy Institute and is the advisor to the Iranian Student Union.
An active member of the Santa Monica community, Tahvildaran-Jesswein serves as the co-chair of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, a non-profit organization considered to be one of the largest associations or neighborhood groups in the city. He is also working with the city of Santa Monica on its Wellness Initiative that is part of the Bloomberg National Campaign.
“My experience as a community college professor and father of two school-aged children has affirmed my commitment to public education,” Tahvildaran-Jesswein explained to PAAIA. “Now that there is an open seat on the school board in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, I have a real opportunity to expand my commitment to public education.”
Tahvildaran-Jesswein wants to make sure that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District remains one of the best school districts in the nation, a status that he states has been jeopardized by the recent recession. “With a large Iranian American student population it is especially important to me to protect the stature of our local public schools so that all our children have the best opportunities.”
Asked about the critical issues facing the school district, Tahvildaran-Jesswein said that protecting and improving upon the high level of curriculum offered by the district while finding innovative solutions to balancing the budget in difficult times would be amongst his top priorities. In addition, he believes that it is important that major ethnic groups, like Iranian Americans, have a voice on the school board.
“As is customary in the Iranian American community, education is a core value and is the key to the success of our families that have immigrated here to the United States,” said Tahvildaran-Jesswein. “I hope that the Iranian American community will play a major role in informing my views on policies directly related to education.”
Tahvildaran-Jesswein’s campaign has gained significant endorsements from public officials and community leaders, including U.S. Congresswoman Julia Brownley, California State Assemblyman Richard Bloom, six of the seven elected members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education, and four of the seven elected members of the City Council of Santa Monica.
Tahvildaran-Jesswein is one of eight candidates – including three incumbents—running to fill four seats on the seven-member Board of Education in the in the non-partisan November election. The four highest vote-getters will be elected to serve on the Board of Education for the Santa Monica –Malibu Unified School District.
Tahvildaran-Jesswein and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for 25 years. Their children attend Santa Monica High School and Lincoln Middle School.
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