Summary of Nice White Parents

Nice White Parents summary

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging


White progressive parents simultaneously root for and undermine diversity in public schools. Using the example of New York City public schools, award-winning radio reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, shows how well-meaning individuals’ strategies of influence end up hurting the overall system. 

About the Podcast

Nice White Parents is a five-part series about building a better school system from Serial Productions, a New York Times Company. Its reporter and producer Chana Joffe-Walt has worked on This American Life (TAL)and Planet Money. Producer Julie Snyder is co-creator and co-producer of Serial with reporter and producer Sarah Koenig. Koenig was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2015. Ira Glass is the winner of several Peabody Awards. Neil Drumming is a journalist. All of them are producers of This American Life.


Parents upend the vision of the public school as equalizer for American people by hoarding resources for their own children.

Mid-1800s educational reformer Horace Mann created the American public school system because he believed that “America and democracy cannot survive without public education.” Public schools, proponents thought, would instill Americans with the tools and values to help them solve problems within their communities.

But US public schools aren’t created equal. And parents with power will scramble to get their children into the best schools with the most resources – even if that means other children have an inferior educational experience. In the United States, the parents who succeed at hoarding resources for their own children are usually affluent white parents. These are the parents who stand in the way of an equitable educational system.

American children of color have rarely experienced equity in the school system. In 1960s New York, schools for children of color were overcrowded; there were so many students that they had to use the buildings in shifts, only attending for a fraction of the hours that white students went...

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