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Mayors seek to improve schools through support

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is leading a group of mayors in an effort to improve Arizona schools. They say a sound educational system has a ripple effect throughout their communities and Arizona. KJZZ’s Al Macias reports.

AL MACIAS: The mayors say they want to use their clout to focus attention on the needs of the state’s educational system. They have the backing of the Helios Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports educational initiatives. Vince Roig is the chairman of the foundation. He says support for Arizona schools is not what it should be.

VINCE ROIG: If you look, just look at the numbers, look at the grades, or look at the state  funding of education. You might conclude that Arizona is in a race for the bottom.

MACIAS: Roig says mayors do not have a direct role in education but they do know the impact a poor education has on their communities.

ROIG: They may not have authority, but they do have consequences for the lack of education. Folks that hang out on the corners, that don’t have jobs, don’t have housing, and don’t have things like that, it’s because of not having work. Well, that’s because of education.

MACIAS: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says they want to work with business and community leaders to build support for Arizona schools, teachers and students.

GREG STANTON: We can’t accomplish any of our goals, economically, socially from a neighborhood perspective, public safety, any of our goals that we need to accomplish as a city, unless we have the very best education system.

MACIAS: Mesa Mayor Scott Smith says the group does not want to fight with Arizona’s education leaders.

SCOTT SMITH: We seem to do a pretty good job in Arizona of tearing down our educational system. We don’t want that. We hope that by not being part of the system, so to speak. We hopefully can have more honest open discussions and bring in solutions.

MACIAS: The mayors say they plan to take a more active role at the legislature to build support for educational initiatives. WestEd, an educational research organization will also be part of the effort.