19 episodes

An immersive series from Nashville Public Radio about inequality and the people trying to rise above it, with host and reporter Meribah Knight. In Season 1 of The Promise, we told the story of Nashville's largest public housing complex, smack in the middle of a city on the rise. In Season 2, we explore how that divide reveals itself in the classroom. One neighborhood, two schools — one black and poor, the other white and well-off, and the kids stuck in the middle.

The Promis‪e‬ Nashville Public Radio

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 666 Ratings

An immersive series from Nashville Public Radio about inequality and the people trying to rise above it, with host and reporter Meribah Knight. In Season 1 of The Promise, we told the story of Nashville's largest public housing complex, smack in the middle of a city on the rise. In Season 2, we explore how that divide reveals itself in the classroom. One neighborhood, two schools — one black and poor, the other white and well-off, and the kids stuck in the middle.

    The Final Exam

    The Final Exam

    It’s February 2020, and Warner Elementary’s star is rising. It’s showing so much progress this year that it might be able to go from one of the lowest performing schools in Tennessee to one of the best. Now it’s just time to hunker down and work until the big state test at the end of the year.   

    But we all know what happens next. First, a natural disaster in Nashville. Then, a global pandemic. And at a school with low-income students, these challenges hit especially hard.  

    “I'm tired of fighting for kids. One person can’t consistently carry that burden,” Warner principal Ricki Gibbs said. “I was at a point where I was going to say, ‘You can have Warner. This is too much.’” 

    In this dramatic final episode of Season 2, crisis brings Warner’s challenges to a breaking point. 

    The Promise is written and produced Meribah Knight. Edited by Emily Siner, with additional editing by Anita Bugg, Tony Gonzalez, Samantha Max, Sergio Martinez-Beltran and Damon Mitchell. Fact-checking and research by Sam Zern. Advising for this season by Savala Nolan Trepczynski and Alex Kotlowitz. Mixing by Jakob Lewis of Great Feeling Studios. The music is by Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 51 min
    The Recruitment Divide

    The Recruitment Divide

    There was a time when the decision of where to send your child to school was relatively simple: public or private. Now, in Nashville and many other cities, those choices have multiplied exponentially.   

    In large part, it's because of white families — a way to keep them in the public system, but on their own terms. But with so many choices at play, things have gotten messy. Judgement is cast. Pedagogy is ruthlessly ranked. Gossip and chatter steer decision making. And information begins to splinter.   

    In this episode, we follow two mothers whose experiences in choosing a school couldn't be more different.   

    The Promise is written and produced Meribah Knight. Edited by Emily Siner, with additional editing by Anita Bugg, Tony Gonzalez, Samantha Max, Sergio Martinez-Beltran and Damon Mitchell. Fact-checking and research by Sam Zern. Advising for this season by Savala Nolan Trepczynski and Alex Kotlowitz. Mixing by Jakob Lewis of Great Feeling Studios. The music is by Blue Dot Sessions. 

    • 26 min
    A Reckoning

    A Reckoning

    Last fall, parents from Lockeland Elementary held a community meeting to talk about the elephant in the room: Despite the diversity of the neighborhood, their school was the whitest school in the entire district.

    Some white parents in the neighborhood simply didn’t see any problem. Others did and wanted the district to find a solution that would bring more children of color to their school. But there was a time, not that long ago, when an idea was floated that could have changed the makeup of Lockeland’s student body — and it did not go well.

    In this episode, white parents start to realize that their choices, and the choices of their neighbors, created this problem.

    The Promise is written and produced Meribah Knight, with additional reporting by Samantha Max. Edited by Emily Siner, with additional editing by Anita Bugg, Tony Gonzalez, Samantha Max, Sergio Martinez-Beltran and Damon Mitchell. Fact-checking and research by Sam Zern. Advising for this season by Savala Nolan Trepczynski and Alex Kotlowitz. Mixing by Jakob Lewis of Great Feeling Studios. The music is by Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 45 min
    Warner's Hope

    Warner's Hope

    Warner Elementary is about to take its moon shot. After landing on the state’s list of lowest-performing schools, it’s aiming to make the list of highest-performing schools. Finally, it has all the right tools: an infusion of federal grant money, an energetic and experienced principal, and new class offerings that set the school apart. 

    But the real turnaround will only work if more students enroll — white students, specifically. And most white families in the neighborhood want nothing to do with Warner.  

    In this episode, Warner begins its uphill turnaround battle.  

    The Promise is written and produced Meribah Knight. Edited by Emily Siner, with additional editing by Anita Bugg, Tony Gonzalez, Samantha Max, Sergio Martinez-Beltran and Damon Mitchell. Fact-checking and research by Sam Zern. Advising for this season by Savala Nolan Trepczynski and Alex Kotlowitz. Mixing by Jakob Lewis of Great Feeling Studios. The music is by Blue Dot Sessions.

    • 36 min
    What You Can't Unsee

    What You Can't Unsee

    In a neighborhood with tons of Black families, Willie Sims’ daughter was the only Black child in the kindergarten class of one East Nashville elementary school. Then he started hearing murmurings from other families, white families. They were mobilizing against resegregation. Did he want in?

    • 37 min
    The Unraveling

    The Unraveling

    After 43 years of courtroom battles, Nashville's landmark school desegregation lawsuit was settled.  In the eyes of the law, the city finally made an honest effort to racially integrate its schools. But in truth, the matter was far from settled.

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
666 Ratings

666 Ratings

mekdieme ,

Follow-up

Let’s keep following Big Man and Mis Brenell, please !

AZFourseph ,

Just what I was looking for on this topic

Excellent in depth and multidimensional reporting on such a complex topic. Learned a lot - hoping to keep learning and find appropriate actions to support the most vulnerable in my community.

lizzyliz2 ,

Please do a follow up

Great listen! I’d love to hear a follow up from this year and how virtual is going for Warner students.

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