As Arizona struggles to jump-start our economy and bring new growth and jobs to our state, economic recovery is not merely a discussion of tax incentives and subsidies or new government contracts and new industries.
While all of those components are important parts of the conversation, Arizona must make education a priority. If our schools are weak and colleges are falling short with students left behind, our economy will continue to suffer.
Earlier this year former Intel Chief Executive and Board Chairman, Craig Barrett, painted a clear picture for Arizona's leaders: "Quality education is extremely important to a place like Intel... Education cutbacks don't bode well for that." Barrett's comments are not alone.
Economic advisors around the country warn that if states do not invest in education, businesses will not invest in those states. The quality of life for a company's employees and their families is just as important as a new contract or tax incentive.
Arizona is faced with a choice: We can continue down the path of ignoring education - and fail to invest in our state's future - or we can commit to giving teachers and schools the resources they need to help our students succeed. We can invest in higher education and help Arizona universities compete for exciting programs, and we can thereby send a message to businesses around the country that Arizona is committed to building a strong quality of life and educational foundation to build their business.
As goes education, so goes the strength of Arizona's economy. Let's make the right choice, and make education a priority.
Michael Bankston, Ahwatukee