October 23, 2004
Tempe school superintendents urged business leaders on Friday to help schools in some of the more impoverished areas in the East Valley.
At the annual State of the Schools luncheon sponsored by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Tempe Union High School District Superintendent Shirley Miles asked for help reaching students before Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS, test becomes a graduation requirement in 2006 and begins leaving at-risk kids behind without diplomas.
"There are a number of students, particularly of color, falling behind," said Miles, who became superintendent four months ago. "Each year, the gap between Anglo students and students of color grows wider."
The funding gap also continues to grow, Miles said. In an annual report released in September by the national Education Trust, students from Arizona’s highest-income families in 2002 received $1,172 more in funding than students from the lowestincome families.
While all three Tempe-area school districts welcomed monetary donations, Miles said one of her greatest needs is volunteers to share business-savvy expertise with their students, from resume writing to tutoring.
"We need your intellectual resources," Miles said. "We need your tutoring help. We need your marketing ideas."
Debra Gomez, interim superintendent of the Tempe Elementary School District, thanked area businesses for support already seen in the schools, including the district’s growing mentor program, and encouraged more support.
The Kyrene Elementary School District, with its affluent area, is on the opposite end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Superintendent Maria Menconi, however, said because business has often focused efforts on aiding lower income areas, the district needs to begin its own marketing campaign and form partnerships with businesses.