SAFETY DOC PODCAST #111 | Interview with Max Eden | Education Policy Expert and Coauthor of Why Meadow Died [Podcast]

PODCAST: In this episode of The Safety Doc Podcast, I talk with the co-author of Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students. He discusses student discipline reform, student disability policies, abeyance agreements, and pressures on institutions to ‘look as though they have no problems,’ and more in light of recent school shootings.

DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode:


Max Eden is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Before joining MI, he was program manager of the education policy studies department at the American Enterprise Institute. Eden’s research interests include early education, school choice, and federal education policy. He was coeditor, with Frederick M. Hess, of The Every Student Succeeds Act: What It Means for Schools, Systems, and States (2017). Eden’s work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets, such as the Journal of School Choice, Encyclopedia of Education Economics and Finance, Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report, National Review, Claremont Review of Books, and The Weekly Standard. He holds a B.A. in history from Yale University.


43 states have laws for school safety plans, but there is minimal accountability. Schools submit logs to denote that drills were conducted and nobody at the state-level offers feedback. It’s the difference between completing a requirement and learning from an activity.


Mr. Eden has written extensively about the complexities of inconsistent applications of discipline policy. He discusses what gets reported and considerations of the perceived interplay of personal and institutional biases in discipline and consequences. Dr. Perrodin iterates the absence of inter-rater reliability between states and notes the examples of North Carolina having more than 100 possible reporting codes for school discipline infraction – including affray which is defined as an instance of fighting in a public place that disturbs the peace. Administrative discretion versus zero-tolerance policies were also scrutinized in this episode. Policies are applied differently for students identified with disabilities due to certain legal protections.


David sought Max’s response to the article Superintendents Association Recommends School Security Companies — for a Fee. Safety Experts Call It ‘Buying Access’ and Decry Lack of Transparency (by Mark Keierleber of; October 21, 2019). Are national and state school organizations selling out to vendors? In Keierleber’s article, he writes, “[The] company and others like it pay $18,000 a year for the right to call themselves “School Solutions” partners with AASA, The School Superintendents Association — an arrangement that has raised ethical questions among some security experts.


Schools have a tool, often per the guidance of their attorney, to deliver a lesser form of discipline that isn’t reportable to any local, state or federal entity. What is an abeyance agreement and how is it undermining student safety?


In the modern age of open enrollment and government shaming for reporting “authentic” discipline figures, schools are actively managing their public image. School-shopping parents, local realtors, businesses and powerful local interests want “good” schools and not “honest” schools. Dr. Perrodin shares his own account of this as a school administrator and how perception was valued over reality.


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About this Episode’s Guest

Max Eden


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