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WN@TL: School Safety in America: Rhetoric vs Reality

  • July 03, 2019
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • UW Biotechnology Center, 425 Henry Mall, Room 1111, Madison, WI 53706

WN@tL: School Safety in America: Rhetoric vs Reality

July 3 - 7:00PM - 8:15PM

UW Biotechnology Center, 425 Henry Mall, Room 1111,  Madison, WI 53706 
Cost: Free 


David Perrodin, Viterbo University

About the talk

School safety is the dominant topic in American education with $3 billion allocated annually to promoting safe K-12 school environments. As of May, 2019, only 43 of 50 states required schools to have safety plans and conduct safety drills. What is a “good” school safety plan and what is a “good” school safety drill? Nobody knows. Individual schools attempt to interpret and apply these foggy expectations with little oversight and less accountability.

Safety vendors and the media have perfected the art of persuading panicked parents and nervous school boards that schools can fortify their way to safety. Unregulated “security solutions” pose danger to schools and hundreds of bills and grants perpetuate these popular fixes. Parents and the community want to “see” school safety. It’s similar to rhetoric that produced France’s impressive Maginot line…which was defeated when the German military simply marched around it and through Belgium. Today, novice curiosity seekers with minimal planning manage to foil security at high-profile, well-funded venues fairly regularly.

Think those nifty new safety apps for smartphones have survived the scrutiny of scientific trials? Think again. Most devices go directly from conception to marketing – and while that centers a debate about business ethics, it’s a perfectly legal practice as school safety equipment is not subjected to the scientific method of product trials.

On par with the ramifications of flipping the magnetic poles, the entire safety paradigm morphed in 2011. While Americans are bound to the social contract that the government will act in their best interests during a crisis, civilian rescue operations, sometimes as rudimentary as a smartphone and free apps, are efficiently scaling novice volunteers to save thousands of lives. This phenomenon concurrently shifted student’s behavior to seek consensus from their “phone tribe” during a crisis situation instead of following a leader.

While we are busy corralling the usual suspects, the sleuthy top threat to school safety can be purchased for $250 and the intelligence community has no plan to counter its swift, destructive impact on students. Let’s work the problem. Are you ready?

About the speakers

Dr. David Perrodin promotes a safety initiative of taking action before a disaster strikes. He is an author, educator, researcher, professor, legal expert witness, consultant, and host of The Safety Doc Podcast. David received his Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at University of Wisconsin-Madison where he researched high stakes safety decisions in education, health care and military. He presented on WN@TL in 2013 and wrote and directed a film about school safety with Pulitzer Prize winner David Obst.

His book, School of Errors – Rethinking School Safety in America, challenges the unchecked expansion of school fortification and hyper-realistic drills and questions the realized benefit of inter-agency collaboration during a sentinel event.

Parking Information

Parking is available in Lot 20, located at 1390 University Avenue. Lot 20 is a three-level parking structure on the right side of University Avenue, just before Henry Mall. Lot 20 is attached to the Genetics/Biotechnology Center.

Parking in Lot 20 is one of the most convenient parking experiences on campus. Park on the top level, and you can enter the building without going up any steps. Convenient, close and step-free parking are three big reasons we hold WN@tL at the Genetics/Biotechnology Center.


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