Q&A: What Three Arizona Mayors Have to Say About High School Graduation

Improving Education, More Graduations

In today’s political environment, elected officials working together across party lines seems a rarity. But 10 Arizona mayors from all corners of the state and all political persuasions decided to buck the trend.

They’re setting aside differing perspectives to improve their communities’ education systems.

Working Together, More Success

The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, established in 2013, was created with the  goal of increasing high school graduation rates. Ultimately, that makes an impact in the lives of young people and the overall good of the community.

As these 10 mayors unite as one, they’re realizing they can make a far bigger change in their communities.

Personal Views of Youth Today

Three of those mayors sat down for a Q&A to share their thoughts on high school and the power of today’s youth. Each has his own story—each was once a kid with growing pains, educational struggles and personal challenges to overcome in order to get to where he is today.

Meet Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, (D), Tucson, Arizona

Mayor Rothschild is the founder and creator of the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable.

A native of Tucson, Rothschild remembers being involved in a high school initiative called “Model Legislature.” During that program, he and a his fellow classmates not only learned how their government was structured, but they were also allowed to actively participate in their state’s legislative process.

While he feels it was a time for his “inner nerd” to shine, there’s no question this experience paid off in his career path.

Today, he is helping lead a successful program called Steps to Success. Rothschild, local celebrities and educational professionals knock on doors in the Tucson community and talk to kids who didn’t finish school.

Their hope is that they can re-engage these kids to get them interested in returning to school and graduate.

Steps to Success has seen overwhelming success by getting more than 300 kids back in school.


Meet Mayor Greg Stanton, (D), Phoenix, Arizona

Mayor Stanton grew up in Phoenix. Starting from an early age, Stanton recalls his uncertainty of attending college due to lack of financial resources.

Rather than letting his at-home circumstances overpower his goals and ambitions, Stanton worked hard to get the best grades he could, setting himself up for college scholarships. Eventually, not only was he able to attend and graduate college, he also obtained a law degree.

Stanton himself understands the burden of college expenses: he is still—to this day—paying off his college loans. Still, he feels college was the best investment he could have ever made in himself.

Ask him what advice he has for young people, he believes learning to communicate will take you far in life. He says knowing how to write well, speak well and present yourself well will be invaluable in your professional and personal life.


Meet Mayor Duane Blumberg, Ph. D., (I), Sahuarita, Arizona

A math professor and administrator for 35 years at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Mayor Blumberg sees the Arizona mayors working together to make an impact in their state’s education to be the most innovative and productive way to make a difference in their communities.

Students who do not finish high school or go to college impact the economic health of more than just one community. He sees a domino effect taking place from one person to the next.

When asked what book kids should be reading today, it’s no surprise he believes books about personal finance and economics to be invaluable to students intellectual and literary lives.


The Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, supported by WestED, benefits from one of three state grants America’s Promise Alliance and Pearson have invested in to increase high school graduation rates. You can read more here.