Former Officer Wanted to Make a Difference Sooner

Former Police Officer Wanted to Make a Difference Before Youth Landed in Trouble
Posted on 06/14/2019
Dr. Escobedo high-fives a students. He visits every school in the District twice annually.

Francisco Escobedo, Ed.D., witnessed first-hand the importance of ensuring that youth have opportunities to lead healthy, productive lives.  A former San Diego police officer, Dr. Escobedo wanted to make a difference earlier in children’s lives, before they became known to police. He left law enforcement to become an elementary school teacher, after a frank conversation with his patrol partner.

“I would try to counsel the youth that I would arrest as a police officer,” Escobedo recalled. “Many of the youth had significant problems, drug problems, or were in gangs. All of them were lost. For me, I could have been one of them. I grew up in the ‘70s in New York when it was the murder capital of the world. I had many friends who took the wrong path. I knew how much education helped me, and I wanted to impart that to the youth I came in contact with.”

His patrol partner finally told him, “If you really want to make a difference, be a teacher because it is through being a teacher you can catch them at a time where you can truly turn the course of their lives and make a difference. Be a teacher.”

Indeed, Dr. Escobedo went to work in education, for the better part of 28 years now, including serving the last eight as Superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District. The District serves nearly 30,000 students and 3,200 teachers and support staff at 49 schools, including dependent and independent charters. He was among recent Administrator of the Year honorees Dr. Escobedo is celebrating the accomplishments of a CVESD school leader.celebrated by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Region 18, which serves San Diego and Imperial counties. Dr. Escobedo was honored in the Superintendent category—“Superintendent of the Year.”

Under Dr. Escobedo’s leadership, CVESD has made great strides in narrowing the achievement gap between English Learners and the overall student population.  Student achievement ranks in the top echelon of the county and state, specifically for economically disadvantaged, Hispanic, African-American, and English learner students.  Local and national awards received by our schools and programs include the prestigious National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) Gold Award, National Blue Ribbon honor, and CSBA Golden Bell award.

“We have an amazing system here in Chula Vista,” Dr. Escobedo said. “We have an amazing Board of Education, teachers, school staff and support staff. We all want the best for our students. I also have amazing colleagues in this region, superintendents who push me, push each other and encourage each other. We aspire to excellence and equity. I feel very privileged to represent our school district.”

Dr. Escobedo is a mentor to other superintendents and school leaders in and out of San Diego County.  He serves on the Advisory Council Committee for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE).  And as part of the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI), Dr. Escobedo works closely with university and district partners to ensure that the Administrative Credential program at San Diego State Dr. Escobedo is a frequent keynote speaker at education conferences and events.University provides future leaders with experiences that more accurately mirror a school leader’s responsibilities. 

Dr. Escobedo said he owes everything to his parents. “They have been an amazing influence on my life,” he said. “It is a beautiful immigrant story of two people, one from Puerto Rico and one from Mexico, who met in New York City. They were English learners. But they knew how important an education was. They always told me to read, apply myself, and wanted me to have a better life. I appreciate their education. Education starts at home and ends at home. They taught me how to conduct myself, treat others well, be respectful and push myself.”

Dr. Escobedo is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and meetings, including at the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and California Department of Education.  The national Learning Policy Institute (LPI) conducted a study of CVESD because it identified Chula Vista as a “positive outlier” among California schools, earning praise from LPI President/CEO Linda Darling-Hammond. The national Learning Policy Institute (LPI) conducted a study of the District because it identified Chula Vista as a “positive outlier” among California schools.  According to LPI President/CEO Linda Darling-Hammond, this means students perform high in achievement after controlling for income.

CVESD was also the only school district in San Diego County and one of 23 statewide to be named a “2018 Exemplary District” by the California Department of Education.

Dr. Escobedo has served on the boards for several associations, such as the American Heart Association, Junior Achievement, and South Bay Family YMCA.  He also was president of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce.”

Dr. Escobedo says his success is collectively shared. “I stand on the foundation of others,” Dr. Escobedo said. “I am very humbled by that.”
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