Value teachers by donating to supply drive

The Tucson Values Teachers organization seeks to help local teachers in practical ways. That is one reason its latest effort -- a school-supply drive -- has great potential.

The organization, which aims to assist teachers as a way to improve education across the board, is partnering with Walgreens stores throughout Pima County, as well as in Sierra Vista, to put on the "Tucson Supplies Teachers" effort.

Walgreens stores will be home to collection boxes through Oct. 16. Donations of school supplies, such as pencils, paper and crayons, are encouraged. The supplies will be distributed to local classrooms.

As almost any teacher will confirm, teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies to make sure that kids who come to school without the necessities have what they need. Massive budget cuts from the state have prompted schools to slash money for supplies, so teachers are digging into their own wallets to make sure students have the tools necessary for learning.

It's typical for teachers to send home supply-request lists at the beginning of the year -- what is not so typical is that schools are asking for the basics: tissues, toilet paper, pencils.

An inability or unwillingness to equip teachers with what they need to do their jobs doesn't simply make life more difficult for individual educators. It also sends a loud message that it's OK to shortchange Arizona kids because we know that when it comes down to it, teachers will reach into their own pockets.

Tucson Values Teachers is pointing out the shortsightedness of this approach through its "Tucson Supplies Teachers" campaign.

More than 300 people gathered at the Tucson Convention Center for the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce 2009 State of Education Luncheon on Tuesday. The group heard from educators about the challenges facing local schools and how they're innovating new ways to teach kids.

The fact remains, however, that no matter how imaginative a teacher might be, it takes, as Tucson Values Teachers Executive Director Jacquelyn Jackson told the group, "a good environment -- enough room, enough school supplies."

Walgreens store manager Bruce Orach said he sees a lot of teachers from the Vail Unified School District shopping at his east side store. He can tell they're shopping for a class because they look for the sales and buy basic supplies in quantity.

Every Walgreens in Tucson and Sierra Vista will accept donations, Orach said, and the supplies don't have to be purchased at Walgreens.

Tucson Values Teachers says more than 10,000 teachers -- in public district and charter schools, and in private schools, will benefit from the drive.

No one entity can give quality teachers the pay and respect they deserve, but efforts like the supply drive help let teachers know they are valued.

We urge you to contribute to the Tucson Supplies Teachers effort.

ON THE WEB: For more information on the Tucson Values Teachers organization and its "Tucson Supplies Teachers" collection drive, including drop-off locations at Walgreens drugstores, go to: www.tucsonvaluesteachers.org The classroom-supply drive runs through Oct. 16.

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