The Price of Nice

How Good Intentions Maintain Educational Inequity

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Angelina E. Castagno

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Being nice is difficult to critique. Niceness is almost always portrayed and felt as a positive quality. In schools, nice teachers are popular among students, parents, and administrators. And yet Niceness, as a distinct set of practices and discourses, is not actually good for individuals, institutions, or communities because of the way it maintains and reinforces educational inequity. 

In The Price of Nice, an interdisciplinary group of scholars explores Niceness in educational spaces from elementary schools through higher education to highlight how this seemingly benign quality reinforces structural inequalities. Grounded in data, personal narrative, and theory, the chapters show that Niceness, as a raced, gendered, and classed set of behaviors, functions both as a shield to save educators from having to do the hard work of dismantling inequity and as a disciplining agent for those who attempt or even consider disrupting structures and ideologies of dominance.


  • Sarah Abuwandi, Arizona State University
  • Colin Ben, University of Utah
  • Nicholas Bustamante, Arizona State University
  • Aidan/Amanda J. Charles, Northern Arizona University
  • Jeremiah Chin, Arizona State University
  • Sally Campbell Galman, University of Massachusetts
  • Frederick Gooding Jr., Texas Christian University
  • Deirdre Judge, Tufts University
  • Katie A. Lazdowski
  • Román Liera, University of Southern California
  • Sylvia Mac, University of La Verne
  • Lindsey Malcolm-Piqueux, California Institute of Technology
  • Giselle Martinez Negrette, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Amber Poleviyuma, Arizona State University
  • Alexus Richmond, Arizona State University
  • Frances J. Riemer, Northern Arizona University
  • Jessica Sierk, St. Lawrence University
  • Bailey B. Smolarek, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Jessica Solyom, Arizona State University
  • Megan Tom, Arizona State University
  • Sabina Vaught, University of Oklahoma
  • Cynthia Diana Villarreal, University of Southern California
  • Kristine T. Weatherston, Temple University
  • Joseph C. Wegwert, Northern Arizona University
  • Marguerite Anne Fillion Wilson, Binghamton University
  • Jia-Hui Stefanie Wong, Trinity College
  • Denise Gray Yull, Binghamton University


  • publisher
    University of Minnesota Press
  • publisher place
    Minneapolis, MN
  • restrictions
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
  • rights
    Copyright 2019 by the Regents of the University of Minnesota
  • rights holder
    Regents of the University of Minnesota