Mayors from cities all around Arizona met Wednesday in downtown Phoenix to launch the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable in order to become more involved in education.
Eight of the roundtable’s 10 founding mayors gathered for the announcement at Burton Barr Central Library.
The organization’s goal is to make Arizona’s mayors more involved in education reform, education goals and education issues, said Paul Koehler, Director of the Policy Center at WestEd, an agency supporting the roundtable.
The members include Mayor Greg Stanton, Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord, Gilbert Mayor John Lewis, Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, Miami Mayor Rosemary Castaneda, Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath and Sahuarita Mayor Duane Blumberg.
“We’re mayors. Mayors get judged by whether we get things done, not whether we’re of one party or another party,” Stanton said. “We like it that way. We want to be judged based on how we get things done. We try to be problem-solvers.”
The roundtable received funding from the Helios Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving Arizona and Florida that is focused on education and increasing student success in post-secondary education.
“At Helios, we believe in the transformational power of education. Education changes lives and it changes communities,” said Vince Roig, chairman of the Helios Education Foundation. “If you just look at the numbers or you just look at the grades or you just look at the state funding of education, you might conclude that Arizona is in a race for the bottom.”
“Each of the roundtable’s founding mayors is committed to improving education,” Stanton said. “We want to roll up our sleeves and be part of the solution.”
Stanton said the mayors can accomplish any of their goals for their cities from a neighborhood perspective. The goals that the mayors have for their cities cannot be accomplished unless the very best education system is available, he added.
Though cities do not run the education system in Arizona, cities have as much a stake as anyone in what goes on in classrooms and throughout the city, Stanton said.
The roundtable’s project is a work-in-progress, and each mayor will have to work within their own jurisdictions to support education, he said.
The mayors will also look at the ability they have to bring together their communities to support education and become involved in policy debates at the state legislature relating to education.
“Everyone standing here today is here to say we can do better in education in Arizona. But they are also making a commitment to become a working part of the solution to improve the education systems across the state,” Roig said.
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