NYT Podcast: We Need to Talk About How 'Nice White Parents' Harm American Education

Posted: Jul 29, 2020 1:05 PM
NYT Podcast: We Need to Talk About How 'Nice White Parents' Harm American Education

Source: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File

Coming soon from The New York Times: Another racially-divisive ideological project, this time purporting to expose a serious problem plaguing American education -- namely, "nice white parents." If it's anything like the 1619 project, it will be rife with embarrassing yet award-winning errors. The "nice white parents" tagline is not a cartoonish, uncharitable paraphrase, mind you. It's what the Times has named this forthcoming podcast, and it's how they're explicitly marketing it:

Becket Adams, writing at the Washington Examiner, doesn't sound terribly optimistic about the product or its host:

The New York Times is set to release a new podcast called Nice White Parents, which seeks to explore the ways in which white parents have contributed to the problems facing public schools.  More specifically, the show is "about the 60-year relationship between white parents and the public school down the block,” the paper announced Thursday. It adds, “We know that American public schools do not guarantee each child an equal education — two decades of school reform initiatives have not changed that. But when we look at how our schools are failing, we usually focus on who they’re failing: Black and brown kids. We ask: Why aren’t they performing better? Why aren’t they achieving more? Those are not the right questions.” “If you want to understand what’s wrong with our public education system,” the New York Times’s announcement adds, “you have to look at what is arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.” 

...Though it is unclear whether the podcast will come right out and accuse white parents of being racist — after all, we have not even listened to the yet-to-be-released program — it seems likely. Indeed, based on the paper’s own promotional material, white parents, even well-meaning ones, will likely be cast as extremely "problematic" for both public school and minority students. Perhaps because, at some point decades ago, their families moved...If you have a bad feeling about this show, you are not alone. Joffe-Walt’s background in covering public schools includes co-authoring several articles on education and segregation in 2015 alongside New York Times magazine staffer Nikole Hannah-Jones. Yes, that Hannah-Jones. As in, the founder of the New York Times’s 1619 Projectwhose entire thesis rested upon the fabricated assertion that the American colonists revolted against the British as a means to preserve slavery.

Maybe Ms. Joffe-Walt will surprise her audience with something other than a leftist polemic rooted in racial grievance and rampant blame deflection. Perhaps the driving factors behind chronically-failing government schools will be explored in detail. But given the name of the program, it sounds like there's a designated villain group pre-selected from the outset. Indeed, it sounds like that may be the whole point of the effort. The very premise of the podcast irked me enough to criticize it sharply on a recent episode of "Outnumbered." Astoundingly, this clip was flagged and published by an organization of professional left-wing outrage mongers, who apparently thought my commentary reflected poorly on me. I thanked them for posting it:

I'm of course open to the possibility that some parents play a negative role in exacerbating problems in our educational system, and that self-appointed do-gooders -- often urban liberals -- can compound or create issues. But the title of the podcast deliberately paints with a broad brush. Of course, many people will find it insulting or unfair on its face, fully aware that other racially-driven generalizations would rightfully be treated as anathema within polite society. I make no apologies for defending my own parents and expressing gratitude toward their efforts to raise their children well in a complicated and treacherous world.

And just to be entirely clear, I am not calling for the podcast, or the publication or staff responsible for it, to be be "canceled." They have a right to say whatever they want, even if it ends up veering into creepy racial territory. But those of us who aren't on board with the framing and stated premise of their work also have a right to speak out and say so -- preferably without angry scribblers implying that we're bigots for doing so. It seems as though I wasn't the only one preemptively uncomfortable with the Times' coming broadside against "nice white parents":

And on this wider subject, in case you missed it, I'll leave you with this.