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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

Nice White Parents: They have good intentions but poor execution

Welcome to Series Sunday! I love bingeing a whole series on Sundays. Officially, I’m still just publishing one new podcast review each week (on Fridays), but occasionally, I’ll publish an extra serial podcast review--often, but not always, true crime--on Sundays.

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

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.

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

The Book of Statuses


Investigative storytelling


Chana Joffe-Walt

Sound/production quality:


Rating/age suitability:

Adult, mostly for appeal

Approximate length of episodes:

50 minutes

Curricular ties:

None in the traditional sense, but it might be an interesting listen for future teachers

Similar recommended pods:

Startup: Success Academy

Podcast Librarian’s Review:

Oh, well-meaning white people (I’m including myself in that category). We can really screw things up with the best of intentions. In Brooklyn, white parents were distressed by the competitive secondary school options. If you’re not familiar with the NYC public schools, it may surprise you to know that students have to apply to their choice high school—and the process can be as competitive as private school admissions. The parents in this podcast were discouraged that there were only 3 “good” nearby high schools and that those schools were lacking in diversity, so they set out to attempt integration into the neighborhood schools, which were traditionally attended by black and brown students. The white families brought with them connections, resources for a French program, and money (lots of it), but there were many clashes throughout the years as the schools dealt with their changing community and culture. If you listened to the Success Academy season of Startup, some of this will sound familiar; in fact, there is a whole episode about Success Academy, which is housed in the basement of another school. Sound confusing? It sure is, but that’s the world of NYC school bureaucracy and demand. This is a Serial production, so it’s no wonder that it’s expertly reported and gives fair time to all sides of the argument of who has a right to attend public school and how one should act when entering a new school community, even with the best of intentions. It was a quick, enjoyable series that will appeal to educators and others who love a dramatic serialized podcast.

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