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Since teachers listen to plenty of podcasts, we are going to start to review them. One of our firsts is Nice White Parents from the New York Times. Judging a podcast by its cover, the title certainly produces both evocative and provocative responses. All teachers and schools most certainly want to work with “nice parents” to join in as stakeholders on their mission for raising the next generation, but adding the racial descriptor certainly arouses the listener’s pointed attention. Now that we have that under our belts, let’s dig in for our review.
Podcast description: “If you want to understand what’s wrong with our public schools, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in shaping them: white parents. A five-part series from Serial Productions, a New York Times Company. Hosted by Chana Joffe-Walt.”
Number of seasons and episodes: 1 season, 5 episodes (and that might be it)
Positives: Nice White Parents talks about the most taboo topic in public education – the fact that our schools are incredibly segregated by test scores and race, and instead of moving towards solutions are becoming more segregated, especially in cities of the liberal leanings in the Northeast.
Room for improvement: The fact that there are only 5 episodes leaves plenty more to be desired. It seems as if there could have been at least double the number. And while the podcast gives a microphone to the often unheard Latinx and Black parents, additional episodes could’ve helped to round out the whole perspective.
Other reviews: The podcast has a 3.8/5 score from 19,000 raters at the time of this article’s publish date. One person who provided a two-star review said “You reference the parents and the story as if all whites are rich or this is how all white parents behave. I am a white parent and I relate more to the other [non-white] group. Most parents I know would agree with me – white or otherwise. My fear is that use of terminology in this way perpetuates racism.” Another who offers five-stars says “A gripping account of multiple efforts to “integrate” public schools in district 15 over more than 50 years, ending on a cautious note of optimism.”
Podcast score: B
Teacher’s comments: Joffe-Walt’s podcast is certainly a jarring eye-opener for many. That’s what has led to such harsh, critical reviews of this podcast. But, even if you are of a conservative-leaning political background hesitant of listening to something from the New York Times, do not judge this podcast by its incendiary title. There is much to offer and learn from the history of New York’s public education system through the middle school IS-293. The school, which was built to be a cosmopolitan, desegregated school in the 1960s, instead was largely attended by Latinx and Black students – that is until recently. As the host started to look for a school for her child to attend Kindergarten, she learned of IS-293 (which now goes by the name Boerum Hill School for International Studies) and how a group of parents – white – banded together to create a new French program at the school, and how every intention of steps forwards often comes with just as many steps back.