March 29, 2012

Education: It’s vital, Arizona Republic

By Mayor Greg Stanton and Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

Arizona is finally coming out of this recession. We’re on the road to recovery. But if we don’t want that road to dead-end up ahead, we need to act on a simple truth: Better education attracts businesses that create jobs.

Our state has hit some lows over the past few years, but one of the worst had to be former Intel CEO Craig Barrett’s comment in 2011, when he said that if Intel had to do it over again, it would likely not come to Arizona due to the lack of support for public education.

That was a kick in the rear, and we desperately needed it.

The truth is that Arizona’s economy is coming back, but to keep it on track, we need two main ingredients: business and education.

Today, the number of U.S. jobs that require education beyond high school has doubled from the 1970s. So, to bring employers to Arizona and keep them here, an educated workforce is essential.

Improving our education system and reducing the dropout rate are key to Arizona’s economic and internationally competitive future. Simply put, education is an economic-development issue.

This is why we’re asking Arizona’s business community to join us in advocating for education. Employers need a quality workforce to be competitive. Beyond that, business executives want their children to have quality schools. So do their employees.

While there’s still time this legislative session, we all — the business community especially — need to deliver the message to our state Legislature to draw the line at more cuts to public education. It’s bad for our economy and our children.

Creative partnerships between the business community, local government and our schools, as well as getting business leaders involved directly in school-based programs, are a big part of the solution. It’s critical that leaders in business and government work closely with leaders in education.

In Arizona, when it comes to supporting our schools, it’s an all-hands-on-deck issue.

With a great education, our kids will be well-equipped to help Arizona compete in a global economy. Our business community, our state legislature, our local governments and all of us need to do what we can, today, to make sure it happens.

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