I am sitting in a hotel in downtown Nashville this evening horrified by the news of what happened today in Parkland, FL. Even though there have already been 18 school shootings so far this calendar year, I still am not numb to the ever-growing incidence of shootings, even mass shooting in our schools and public settings.
I am here to participate in the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education. This is the annual gathering of school superintendents and educational leaders from around the country and world.
The events of today will cast a shadow over the conference and will certainly be a main topic of conversation during tomorrow’s meetings.
Before going any farther, I must say that I am heartbroken for the impacted families and community. Their grief, sadness and maybe even anger, must be intolerable.
There is going to be a lot of chatter around the country asking questions that begin with WHY, HOW, WHO, and WHEN. This is normal. Questions should be asked. A lot of them.
The challenge comes when we start trying to answer the questions.
If at the end of all the questioning, we end up at the exact same place where we are now, and have been for years, then we will have just completed another futile exercise in “caring” and “thinking” and “problem solving.”
Part of the challenge I see in our nation’s response to school violence, and violence in general, is that we do not have a solution that totally prevents it. Advocates against change use the logic that whatever measures or solutions we develop, will not prevent all such incidents in the future. You know, they are EXACTLY RIGHT.
However, to say that we can’t do something because it will not be perfect, is like saying a pitcher shouldn’t get on the mound unless they can throw all strikes, or that we shouldn’t get married if we can’t be perfect spouses, or that we shouldn’t try anything unless we will 100% succeed the first time we try it.
I love the saying that is an old Chinese proverb,
“It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
We cannot let the ideal of perfection get in the way of significantly making progress in our lives. We must continually strive for improvement in all aspects of our lives. This is most certainly true in the way that we deal with violence in schools.
We will probably never stop all violence, but I know with ever fiber of my being that we can make a big difference in reducing it.
We simply cannot allow the status quo to remain the status quo.
I welcome the questions that will follow. I also encourage us to go deeply, honestly and ardently into the answers and then couple that with ACTION.
Our children our worth it. Our schools are worth it. Our communities our worth it. Our nation is worth it. And the families that are grieving in Parkland are worth it.
We are better than this. I just know it!
What are your thoughts?