Local businesses team with schools to improve education - Tucson News Now

Local businesses team with schools to improve education

By Barbara Grijalva - email

Education and the economy.

Not everyone ties them together, but the state of education in Arizona has the local business community worried.

So more businesses and schools in Tucson are working together to make both better.

The next time you go into your neighborhood Walgreens store in Pima County and in Sierra Vista, you'll see some colorful boxes.

We're all invited to fill the boxes with items teachers and students can use in the classroom...from computer paper to pens.

But it's just one facet of a local push to improve education in southern Arizona. 

The announcement about the drive came Tuesday at the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce "State of Education" luncheon.

As for anyone who might wonder why a business organization like the Chamber of Commerce would care about education...

"If we don't have the best schools in the country, we're not going to make it as a region. This is economic development.  It's not just patting the teacher on the head. This is the economic future of our region," says Jacquelyn Jackson, executive director of Tucson Values Teachers.

Tucson Values Teachers, or TVT, is a local group formed by local movers and shakers in the business community to help support our schools and teachers.

"We're trying to just overall create the value, to recognize they are our partners in economic growth and development. They should be at every board table every time a business sits down," Jackson says.

Though Arizona does well in educational standards, the state ranks near the bottom on the amount it spends on education per child. 

"How do we make a difference with that? Not waiting for Phoenix to do something or Washington D.C.  But as a community, what can we do?" Jackson says.

Jackson says TVT's latest initiative to support teachers will help them with school supplies, so they don't have to use their own money.

She says teacher's spend, on average, $1,200 of their own money on school supplies every  year.  

That's where Walgreens and the rest of us come in, by collecting and donating supplies.

"I think it's very unfortunate that our teachers are worrying where they're going to get that ream of paper to print their test on, as opposed to being able to teach the topics that need to be taught in their classrooms," says Walgreens Store Manager Bruce Orach.

But educators say businesses stepping up to help is as valuable in the classroom as having enough supplies.

"It demonstrates that people beyond just the parents care about what's happening with education. And that's the other issue that is so important to businesses is that we are training tomorrow's workforce," says Vail School District Superintendent Calvin Baker.

"We need educated employees, educated workforce...whether it's Walgreens or Raytheon," says Walgreens' Orach.

TVT's "Tucson Supplies Teachers" campaign runs through October 16th.

The supplies will go to teachers in public, private and charter schools in Pima County and Sierra Vista.

You may buy the school supplies at Walgreens' or any other store, and drop them in the box at any of 51 Walgreens stores in Pima County and Sierra Vista. 

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