Recently, the mayors and school district superintendents of Globe, Superior, Miami, Hayden, Winkelman and Kearny were all invited to visit the headquarters of Helios Education Foundation in Phoenix. The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about the current educational attainment of K-12 students across the Copper Corridor region as well as the variety of social and economic factors that affect their ability to learn. The data presented to us was compelling, all the more so because it was the most recent data available and could be correlated through technology.
In our session, we learned that simple things like our children having enough to eat throughout the month helps to improve their ability to learn. We learned about the effects that the contamination of lead based paint can have on children. Even air quality can be a factor in our students’ success. Of course, school funding also directly impacts the educational attainment of our children and youth, as does the lack of funding and declining enrollment that many of our communities here in our region and across the Arizona have experienced over the years.
These and other equally daunting factors can often be construed as insurmountable and render us feeling powerless. The meeting last week reminded me that our region has always been resilient and committed to not only fiercely battling challenges, but also to ensuring that our youth have abundant opportunities for their futures. Our communities have educated doctors, lawyers, engineers, miners, educators, business executives and countless hometown heroes who have become leaders in their professions and industries.
One of our greatest advantages as a region is the fact that our leaders are at least willing to come together to have a conversation, to dialog on what actions we can take to address these challenges, how we can leverage our resources and how we can best advocate for our schools and education systems.
This local leader, me, Mayor Mila from Superior, sees a bright a future ahead when we can all work together. When we come together, we are a formidable force, as there is strength in a group of many working together as one. Collectively, we share values that bind us all together – we all want great futures for our residents, especially for our children and youth. We can help to shape even brighter futures for our students – those who are here today and those who inevitably will come in the future.
The Mayors of Superior, Kearny and Miami left the meeting last week with a simple challenge: let us use our resources to help our students complete FAFSA applications so they can see college is attainable for them and let us be ardent promoters of many programs available in our communities. I look forward to including our fellow mayors and moving this challenge across the region. Yes, there is more advocacy work to be done and we are ready for that work.
I applaud Resolution Copper for providing the resources and facilitation for our region to come together to address the education issues, that we have access to the data and leadership at Helios to help us improve our local education systems and increase college enrollment from students in our region.
Without the communities of Arizona’s Copper Corridor and all communities connected to the metals extraction industry, this world would not run the way it does. It is time for us to collaborate and build the next generation of leaders and, without quality education in our communities, we are risking everything we all have worked so hard to achieve.