Jay Lawrence is at it Again.

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Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman and most of the public servants entrusted with deciding which schools receive school safety grant monies in the coming weeks are pragmatic public servants that recognize that there is not a one size fits all approach to ensuring children and educators are in a safe education environment.

Arizona Legislative District 23 Representative Jay Lawrence is apparently not one of these individuals.

Mr. Lawrence, as originally reported by the Phoenix New Times, commented, (along with Legislative District 12 Representative Warren Peterson) on his personal radio show, that the school safety grant monies should be directed mostly to arming teachers and retired veteran and police security.

Lawrence, on his show, said that:

“Kathy Hoffman, Superintendent of Public Instruction, thinks most of that money should go for psychologists rather than armed officers in the classrooms, and I want to see armed officers in school….. and they would go through a training program before they ever were allowed to carry. It would be so good for the schools. We have veterans that are trained in firearms; we could have them on campus, police officers, retired officers, and teachers even.”

Legislative District 16 Representative John Filmore, as reported by the Arizona Mirror,  has already submitted a proposal similar to the position held by Lawrence and Peterson to the State Legislature (House Bill 2031) calling for a “secretive police force called school marshalls.”

Commenting on Lawrence’s statements, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman stated that:

“The best approach to school safety is a multidisciplinary approach that addresses security concerns, while also supporting the behavioral health needs of students,” Hoffman said. “While some schools may feel the need to hire a school resource officer, others may find a counselor, a social worker, or some combination of these positions to be a better fit. I believe in letting school communities make those decisions.”

One of Hoffman’s spokespersons Richie Taylor commented that:

“I think that reality (of armed personnel in schools always deterring violence)  has not shown that to be true. Having guns on campus has not stopped school shooters. Teachers have largely said they don’t want to fulfill that role and that is not the role of a teacher.”

To prove Taylors point, just ask the survivors in Parkland, Florida how the armed school resource officer at Stoneman Douglas High School deterred the shooter there?

Legislative District 23 Democratic Candidate Eric Kurland offered his views on Mr. Lawrence’s thoughts, remarked:

” As a radio talk show host, Jay should step aside and allow the professionals to lead. I’ve spent over 20 years in the classroom and I can say that him going off half-cocked as he continues to do is a danger to our children.”

JoAnna Mendoza, one of the Democratic candidates hoping to defeat State Senator Vince Leach in Legislative District 11 also conveyed their views on Mr. Lawrence’s ideas, writing that:

“Representative Lawrence is another legislator who likes throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks. He criticized State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman for her efforts to bring more school counselors to schools, then he suggested militarizing our schools by having “armed veterans” on campuses. Rather than focus on healing the trauma that some children have experienced and addressing mental health issues, Rep. Lawrence is suggesting that we use fear as a tactic to keep kids in line. This fear tactic would erode public democratic power and expand a toxic agenda to silence the voices of future generations. If we want to create a safe school environment for our children then we, as adults, must model that behavior for our children. We must demonstrate through our own example and teach them conflict resolution and resiliency. There needs to be a balance in helping our kids work through their issues and creating a safe environment that will foster academic success. Having “armed veterans” on school campuses isn’t teaching our kids how to work through disagreements.”

Colonel Felicia French, running for the State Senate District Six Seat, stated that:

“As state legislators, we should be proactive, not reactive to the problem of gun violence—there are well-proven solutions to keep guns out of the wrong hands, including background checks and protective stop orders.”

“As a 32-year Army and AZ National Guard veteran, a nurse, an educator, and a mom, I believe no child should go to school with the fear of gun violence. Moreover, no Arizonan, whether a child, or an adult, deserves to live in fear simply because they are going to a classroom, a place of worship, a movie theater, or a concert.”

“With the rise in both mass shootings and firearm-related suicides (a tragedy I’ve had to face in my own role as a commander, as a disproportionate number of suicide deaths involve veterans), and the strong link between guns and increased domestic violence, lawmakers must push for common-sense gun laws that put the safety of the communities we represent, first.”

Mr. Lawrence did attempt to finesse his radio comments regarding the school safety grants in stating to the Phoenix New Times that:

“It depends on the school. It depends on the district. It depends on what problems they have. It depends on population of the school… If Hoffman recommends all counselors and no school resource officers, then I’ll make a determination.”

The approach taken by Superintendent Hoffman and the others is the correct one. Local schools should be allowed to spend the grant monies how they see fit. If it is for a counselor, fine. If it is for a school resource officer, fine. If it is for a social worker, fine.

One size or option does not fit all school settings.

All public servants should recognize that.

 

 

 

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David Gordon
Living in Arizona since his family moved to Tempe from New York in 1982, David Gordon has three degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Phoenix in History, Political Science, and Secondary School Administration. A highly qualified Social Studies instructor and Certified School Principal, Mr. Gordon owned his own charter school, Grand Canyon College Preparatory Academy from 1997-2016. The school served students in grades 6-12 in the East Valley of Maricopa County. Many of the graduates of GCP earned college credit for free while still attending high school, some completing the first year of college before graduating. Among the speakers at the school's graduations were noted figures in Arizona Politics like Harry Mitchell, David Schweikert, Juan Mendes, Andrew Sherwood, and John Huppenthal. Mr. Gordon also participated in the revisions of the Arizona History and Social Studies standards. In January 2017, Mr. Gordon started the political blog Twenty-First Century Progressive Bull Moose. It has a global following and routinely comments on the political events of the day. Mr. Gordon also helps administer the Facebook page Living Blue in Arizona. He is also currently writing a series of Young Adult science fiction novels which incorporate the themes of time travel and its impact on history. Mr. Gordon is very happy to be asked to join the Blog for Arizona team and hopes to spread the progressive word to make Arizona a better place for everyone.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Then we have Fillmore, apparently wanting to return us to some fantasy 1958. I attended one of his sessions, he did a lot of talking about sex ed and mandatory patriotism and less abusive dating discussions will solve all education issues, along with praying around the flagpole. I just wish the world was as simple and fantasy filled as the solutions of old white guys like Kavanagh, Lawrence and Fillmore think it is.

    • “mandatory patriotism”!!!!!!

      “praying around the flagpole”!!!!!

      They really need to start teaching the Constitution in Arizona schools.

  2. The silly combover and the bad hair dye job informs one that Jay Lawrence suffers from poor judgement.

    Border walls and armed guards everywhere, the GOP wants to turn America into 1960’s Berlin.

  3. This is fascist nonsense. School Marshal’s would just bring us one step closer to a police state. I don’t have an answer for gun violence in America, but we can start by looking closely at those who profit.

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