George F. Garcia
72MA

Achievement 1999

George F. Garcia

George F. Garcia, 72MA, superintendent of Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) since 1991, is in the midst of a distinguished career as an educator and educational administrator. A former UI Alumni Association board member, he was named one of North America's best administrators by Executive Educator magazine in 1993, and in 1998, the Arizona School Administrators Association named him the Arizona Superintendent of the Year.

A recognized expert on nonsexist, multicultural curriculum and instruction, Garcia has led TUSD through major changes. He has systematically strengthened the school district by focusing on increased student achievement, enhanced school safety, and unprecedented community involvement in schools.

With special emphasis on accomplishment and accountability at all levels, Garcia has presided over a continuing trend of dramatically improved student performance in the Tucson Unified School District. Last year's graduating class scored above the state and national averages in reading and mathematics and above the state average in language. During his tenure, the district has experienced a continuous decrease in its dropout rate, with the current rate the lowest in the past decade. With an innovative program called "the Fourth R," community involvement in student education has escalated to unprecedented levels. Volunteer hours by Tucson's students and families-- at 40,000 when Garcia came on board in 1991-- have soared to more than 230,000.

Garcia's creativity, innovation, and willingness to take bold action benefit Tucson's students every day as he emphasizes appreciation of diversity and bilingual education. Believing that schools need to confront bias in student-teacher interaction, Garcia directs the training of teachers on the elimination of gender, racial, and ethnic disparities through research-based instructional strategies and resources. With a bilingual education plan that received national recognition, Garcia secured a grant to support a home-shared computer project that gives computer access to more than 8,400 students and their families.

A legislative advocate for children at the local and state level, Garcia has fostered stronger support for public education and better relations with elected representatives. One result of his efforts was Medicaid's reimbursement to the Tucson district for providing services to Medicaid-eligible students. Garcia was also instrumental in founding the Pima County School Board/Superintendent Collaborative, an organization that brings together all Pima County superintendents and governing board members to work towards common goals and interests through the Arizona legislature.

Through a humane, visionary approach, Garcia has developed a record of excellence in educational leadership in other major school districts. As director of urban education for the Iowa Department of Public Instruction from 1974 to 1979, he introduced the first nonsexist, multicultural curriculum to Iowa, long before such programs were common. His success in building consensus and securing funds to implement this innovation resulted in wide acclaim and national recognition. The Iowa curriculum has since become a model for many other states.

Active in many civic and philanthropic organizations, Garcia was recently honored by the Arizona-Israel Friendship League for his longstanding support of the Youth Ambassador program. He also served as chairman for Tucson's 1997 United Way fundraising campaign.

Garcia is a member of the UI Alumni Association.