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Nice White Parents

Author: Serial & The New York Times

Subscribed: 27,112Played: 169,913


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.

6 Episodes
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.For more information about this show, visit
1: The Book of Statuses

1: The Book of Statuses


It’s 2015 and one Brooklyn middle school is about to receive a huge influx of new students.In this episode, Chana Joffe-Walt, a reporter, follows what happens when the School of International Studies’ 6th grade class swells from 30 mostly Latino, Black and Middle Eastern students, to 103 — an influx almost entirely driven by white families.Everyone wants “what’s best for the school” but it becomes clear that they don’t share the same vision of what “best” means.For more information about this show, visit
Chana Joffe-Walt searches the New York City Board of Education archives for more information about the School for International Studies, which was originally called I.S. 293.In the process, she finds a folder of letters written in 1963 by mostly white families in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. They are asking for the board to change the proposed construction of the school to a site where it would be more likely to be racially integrated.It’s less than a decade after Brown v. Board of Education, amid a growing civil rights movement, and the white parents writing letters are emphatic that they want an integrated school. They get their way and the school site changes — but after that, nothing else goes as planned.For more information about this show, visit
Chana Joffe-Walt explores how white parents can shape a school — even when they aren’t there.She traces the history of I.S. 293, now the Boerum Hill School for International Studies, from the 1980s through the modern education reforms of the 2000s. In the process, Chana talks to alumni who loved their school and never questioned why it was on the edge of a white neighborhood. To them, it was just where everyone went. But she also speaks to some who watched the school change over the years and questioned whether a local community school board was secretly plotting against 293.
Public schools are inequitable because the school systems are maniacally loyal to white families. We can’t have equitable public education unless schools limit the disproportionate power of white parents. But is that even possible? Chana finds two schools that are trying to do just that, and both are actually inside the 293 building. One is downstairs in the basement, where a charter school called Success Academy opened about 7 years ago. The other is upstairs at BHS, the newly renamed SIS.
This episode contains strong language.Chana has traced the history of the school from its founding and come to the present. But now: One unexpected last chapter. Last year, the school district for BHS mandated a change in the zoning process to ensure all of middle schools will be racially integrated. No longer can white families hoard resources in a few select schools. Black and Latino parents have been demanding this change since the late 1950s. The courts have mandated it. Chana asks: How did this happen? And is this a blueprint for real, systemic change?
Comments (135)

Joany Ken

wow! I would discribe this podcast as very interesting. It shows how hard it is to change a schoolsystem even with the best intentions.

Nov 20th

Alycia Houseman

I cannot believe that a principal said 'we gave her some canned goods and really she had too many kids anyways 🤷‍♀️'

Oct 21st


If you want to understand what’s wrong with inner cities, you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in shaping them: blacks.

Oct 3rd

Yaara gerchman

This episode touched many, many nerves- In the end, jeramiahs interview just broke my heart :/ no trust.

Sep 29th

Daniel Alcala

awesome podcast. first one I heard completely. made me open my eyes a little more now that my daughter going to school. lots of issues I wasn't aware about.

Sep 28th

ekeama goddard

Wonderfully well researched and presented series! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾 I really appreciated the thoughtful way questions were posed and interrogated (be they from the interviewer or the interviewees). Moreover, the tracing of the school's history and how it serves as an example of different races' response to desegregation was eye-opening. Loved the series! Would love to see more like this!

Sep 23rd

Visen B

wow at the amount of comments they had to delete for this trash identity politics podcast.

Sep 20th

Daniel Farrugia

A thoughtful exploration of the forces shaping education in a school district, exploring the unintentional power that white privilege wields. Dealing with integration and equity, and what these mean to different people, the series ends on a note of hope for what appears to be a dire situation that perpetuates segregation. Well worth your time.

Sep 15th

Alex Mercedes

good job! great series. uncommon equanimity throughout. modelling White self-reflection without lapsing into either excessive guilt or excessive defensiveness. Wish I could get more of my progressive white friends to listen to this. it's a pod with a lot of potential benefit even for white people who don't have school age children.

Sep 10th

Data Solutions Experts

This podcast has people who are really funny talking about some really good restaurants. Definitely worth a listen.

Sep 6th

Joel Hamburg

if you only listened to just the first right didn't get the whole story. very interesting and thought provoking.

Sep 6th

Josh Er

wow, this sounds interesting.

Sep 2nd

Keith Sterback

This is so racist

Sep 2nd

Anna Clay

This is an excellent podcast. Thoughtful and thorough, including a variety of voices so as not to put words in anyone's mouth, it examines the ways in which white families wield influence without even realizing it, and the unintended harm we cause.

Aug 31st


Sucks just like everyone who “liked” it

Aug 29th


I'm literally screaming at my desk. the phone call in at the end, THIS IS SOME CRAZY HYPOCRITICAL SHIT

Aug 28th


this is the most important podcast for white people to listen to since podcasting started

Aug 28th
Reply (5)

ian neumann

fucking garbage

Aug 27th
Reply (1)

Andrew Stimpson Gee

I really question the white mom's motivation. If she cared so much why did she keep her kid in the mostly white middle school?

Aug 26th



Aug 25th
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