Arizona, Just Be Careful.


As a public school employee, I will not wade into the discussion about allowing guns in school.   This is not to say that I do not have an opinion.  Rather, this position is a reflection of the current vitriolic atmosphere sweeping the entire nation when it comes to topics that might be deemed political.  In essence, I’m cautious about sharing my thoughts because everyone knows a “tree-hugging-tax-and-spend-liberal-welfare-state-fascist” or a “nut-job-right-wing-gun-toting-Reagan-worshipper” couldn’t possibly be an effective principal.  So, I’d rather avoid the labels.  

As you can see, they are usually quite unflattering.

Instead, however, I will offer this: Arizona, please be careful. 

This is not about politics, it’s about making decisions based on sound reason and, most importantly, not on fear.  Because if history has shown us anything, it’s that reactions based on fear tend to be misguided, ineffective, and can even cause long-term damage.

I urge us to ask questions and have deep discussions among those who are familiar with a variety of related issues.  For example, I’ve been stunned by the lack of teacher voices in the converation, to date.  What do their experiences tell us?   We won’t know, unless we ask.

I also encourage us to not look at the event as if it happened in a vaccum.  For example, could an armed teacher have stopped this gunman as he entered the classroom?  Perhaps.  It might even be likely.  But there is a second question.  How many incidents of violence might we have encountered if such weapons had been in classrooms across the country?  What might be the pitfalls and benefits of armed volunteers, as opposed to law enforcement officers? Most importantly, what evidence do we have of our opinions?  As always, we must be careful not to form our beliefs first, and then seek affirming evidence.  

Because when we do, we always find such evidence.  This is why we seldom change our minds, rarely compromise, and always seem to end in gridlock.

We don’t know.  And people who says they do, have already made up their mind before even beginning the discussion.  This, by definition, indicates they are not problem-solving in good faith.  And, there is no room at my table for predeterminations.  

These are our children, not an opportunity to advance an agenda in either direction.  Let’s not let our national and state dysfunction find its way into our schools any more than it already has. 

Maybe this is our chance to finally act like role models.


Mike Lee

Mike Lee

Phoenix, Arizona

I am the Director of Outreach and Engagement for The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and certified as a Middle Childhood Generalist in 2004. In 2012, I received my doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University, however, I began my work in education serving as a para-educator in a special education program while still an undergraduate. My passions in the field include assessment and reporting strategies, the evolving role of technology, teacher leadership, and effective professional development that permanently impacts instruction. I consider myself a professional teacher first, as well as a professionally evolving lifelong learner, who is incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to impact the lives of children.

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