If there is one topic that unites Ahwatukee Foothills, it's education – our great schools and how to support them.
It does not matter where I am or what I'm doing, every day, someone stops me to talk education. Many families moved to Ahwatukee specifically for our great schools. But even people whose children have long since moved out of the house understand: education is the issue of our time.
Our teachers are underpaid and our schools need help.
Public education is personal for me. My parents came to this country with grade-school educations. I couldn't speak English until I was immersed in first grade. And while my parents may not have known the math and English skills required for school, they knew I needed the skills that a strong education brings to be successful in this new country.
That's why I will always do everything possible to find solutions that will make our local schools successful: public, charter and private alike.
Now, the fact is that we – the City of Phoenix – have little control over our schools. That's the reality. But it's equally true that we can, and have already had, an impact.
With the support of my fellow Councilmembers, over the last decade, the Phoenix IDA has doled out more than $1.5 billion in loans to schools.
Our after-school programs, libraries, and student support organizations – funded and run by the city – are some of the best in the country. I have and will continue to support these programs.
The fact that I grew up poor made me realize the importance of just being able to get to school. For this reason, I have pushed – and the council is moving forward with – addressing free bus passes for our children going to and from school.
Right now, many parents and families have to make tough choices about what opportunities their kids have access to, like sports, theatre and the arts. Working families don't have the ability to drive their kids to and from these activities.
By allowing any child with a school ID free use of our city busses – as Tempe already does for their kids – we can support our schools, help reduce their transportation costs so that they can devote those monies to the classroom, and ensure that our children can take advantage of every opportunity their schools offer.
Working with the school districts also means ensuring that the roads around our schools are safe and properly maintained.
It means working with the police to protect our children. And it means ensuring the great quality of life that has attracted so many of you to our community in the first place.
We aren't going to solve our teacher shortage or low pay by ourselves, but by doing every little thing we possibly can, the City of Phoenix can take strong steps towards helping our school leaders solve those problems.
As your councilman, this is my commitment to you, and one more reason I am, once again, asking for your vote on Aug. 29.