Nice white parents is made by serial productions and brought to you by The New York Times. I want to take you back to a time when a group of idealistic people feeling hopeful about the future, about America, threw themselves into the fight for racial integration. It was 1963 and New York City was planning to build a new school right next to a housing project where the students would be almost entirely black and Puerto Rican. But these white parents came in and said, no, no, no, no, don't build it there.
Put it closer to the white neighborhood. That way all our kids can go to school together. They were dogged. These white parents lobbying the city at meetings, writing letters, saying don't build it there. It will inevitably be a segregated school and we want our kids to mix with black and Puerto Rican kids from the projects. It's a decade after Brown v. Board of Education. They said schools should be integrated.
There's an archive filled with letters where the parents wrote things like, we don't want our white children to be part of some, quote, small, white, middle income click.
The Board of Education agreed, changed the entire plan and located the building where the white parents wanted it. A few years later, the school finally opened and then none of them sent their kids there. I went through this box of letters called as many parents as I could, not a single person actually sent their kid to the school, not one. What happened?
I remember thinking very clearly, OK, I believe in this, but I don't sort of want to sacrifice my children to it. You know, as I said, I'm a Quaker. And so my kids went to the Quaker schools.
But you were a Quaker when you wrote this letter asking for an integrated.
I believed in it, but and I think that we say a lot of things that are politically correct without even realizing that we are not telling exactly how we feel. For years, I've been looking for an answer to the question, why don't public schools work better? What is getting in the way of giving each child an equal opportunity and equal education?
But now I think I've been looking in the wrong places for what's broken in our schools.
I think you can't understand what's broken if you don't look here at one of the most powerful forces shaping public education, white parents. From serial productions, it's nice White Parents, a new show about the 60 year relationship between white parents and the public school down the block.
I'm kind of Joffe Walt Nice White Parents is coming July 30th wherever you get your podcasts.