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Are American Public Schools Becoming Monster Factories?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP

There is a new book out, which is both profound and deeply disturbing. It is a must-read for every parent with a child in an American public school, or who one day will be in an American public school.  


The book, titled Why Meadow Died, is a meticulous and methodical dissection of what led up to the February 14, 2018 mass slaughter that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Florida. And here’s a sneak peek: It doesn’t focus on the gun that the left would have you believe is the Devil at the heart of the story. In fact, guns barely factor into the story. 

It is very facile for the left to blame “guns” for what happened on February 14, 2018 in Parkland, because it deflects attention from the left’s own profound policy failures, which were the real culprit in this saga. Rather than looking at superficial claims about “easy access to guns,” the authors take a much deeper and more nuanced look at where the real Devil resides in this tale. And not that shockingly, for those of us (including myself) who have been researching this atrocity since that terrible day, the Devil lies primarily in government policies, and more particularly, in political correctness as reflected in government policy.

The authors of this book, Max Eden and Andrew Pollack, could not have been a better team to conduct this examination. 

Max is a Yale-trained education policy expert, who brings a wealth of education policy expertise to the table and years of study surrounding the issues which so profoundly impacted our nation that horrible day.


Andy is the father of Meadow Pollack, a remarkable young lady who was a student at MSD. She was caught in Nikolas Cruz’s gunsights on Valentine’s Day 2018. Meadow found no route of escape, as hard as she tried, and lost her life while using her own body trying to protect that of another student. 

Both Max and Andy deserve the gratitude of our nation in conducting the research that has led to this enormously important work.

Why Meadow Died documents one of the most preventable, horrific, maddening, and yet predictable calamities that one could imagine. And if you think that your kid’s public school is special - is somehow immune from what happened in Parkland - you really need to read this book. The policies set forth from the Obama administration’s Department of Education on down to the Broward County Public Schools system, to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department, were unbelievable. And I mean that in the purest sense of the term. I could not believe after reading all the details of Nikolas Cruz’s pathetic life that he was not: a) incarcerated long before he had a chance to kill MSD students; or b) institutionalized in a mental hospital for psychotic individuals. 

The detailed description of Nikolas Cruz’s outrageous conduct, particularly while a student in Westglades Middle School (found in Chapter 5) is breathtaking. Were I the parent of a child in this school and made aware of the truly terrifying behaviors that such a student as Cruz exhibited, yet from which he suffered little to no consequence under Broward’s profoundly misguided policies, I would be outraged and demanding that education bureaucrats’ heads roll. I would not let my child back in the school.


Messrs. Eden and Pollack expose a system whereby feel-good policies going by such pleasant-sounding names as “Restorative Justice”, “Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports”, and “Multi-Tiered System of Supports” in reality mask a system designed to go to nearly any lengths to protect violent, disturbed, psychotic and just plain evil students at the expense of the vast majority of good kids. 

The principal goal of these programs is to avoid having kids arrested and removed from mainstream public schools, as this was believed by the Obama administration to feed the so-called “school to prison pipeline”, which they felt unfairly affected blacks and other minorities. Much of the problem stemmed from the Obama administration’s racialist mindset. Since the largest proportion of kids being arrested in schools were people of color, the Obama administration reasoned, this was evidence of “implicit bias” on the part of racist teachers who were targeting minority kids, rather than the fact that on a per capita basis, arrestable offenses were being committed by minority kids at a far higher rate than by non-minority kids.

Robert Runcie, the Broward Schools superintendent, launched something called the PROMISE program, which was sort of the mothership of twisted education policies, designed to keep violent kids from being arrested. Runcie had been the protégé of the Obama administration’s Education Secretary, Arnie Duncan, before Runcie was appointed to head the Broward school system, in which MSD is located.  The PROMISE program in Broward then became a model promoted by the Obama administration through their infamous 2014 “Dear Colleague Letter” on school discipline, that was issued to public school district officials across the nation. It threatened loss of federal funding if school districts didn't adopt similarly lenient policies. 


The Obama administration engineered the installation of Runcie as Broward Schools’ superintendent. Before joining the Broward school system, Runcie had served under Arne Duncan in the Chicago Public Schools as the Chief Information Officer. That’s right. Runcie was not trained as an educator, but was Chicago schools’ top IT guy. In other words, he was an Obama administration plant, willing to implement its new “inclusive” education policy scheme across the nation, starting in Broward. This was a disaster waiting to happen.

Last year, I wrote a column in which I laid much of this out, but there was a fundamental flaw in the very title of my column, which was “The Cascading Failures of Government.” As Mr. Pollack eloquently states in Chapter 4: “Some people have said that the Parkland tragedy was a ‘total system failure’… But when you take a deeper dive into the school district and its politically correct policies in Part III, every failure will make sense… I’m not even sure you could call what happened a ‘failure’ because everyone was doing exactly what these policies and this system encouraged them to do. Nikolas Cruz could not possibly have broadcast more clearly who and what he was.”

And here’s the thing: These same sorts of policies that produced the mass killer Cruz, who was a flashing red beacon, are being implemented in public school districts across the nation. We are reducing our schools to the lowest common denominator, and it’s just a matter of time before another Nikolas Cruz comes along. 


Andy Pollack has carried on Meadow’s life through his courage and tireless efforts to expose the true cause of the disaster which took Meadow from her family. He and Max have done her proud. Their efforts resulted in a tour de force expose of government failure, which portends disaster for America’s public schools. I truly think that Meadow knows exactly what labors her Dad has expended to reveal the truth behind the Parkland atrocity, and that she is immensely proud of him.

William F. Marshall has been an intelligence analyst and investigator in the government, private, and non-profit sectors for more than 30 years. He is a senior investigator for Judicial Watch, Inc. and a contributor to Townhall, American Thinker, and The Federalist. (The views expressed are the author’s alone, and not necessarily those of Judicial Watch.)

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