cover image Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side

Eve L. Ewing. Univ. of Chicago, $22.50 (240p) ISBN 978-0-226-52602-7

Poet Ewing (Electric Arches), an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, revisits the 2013 closure of 54 Chicago public schools due to declining rates of enrollment in this bracing study of the third largest school system in the United States. Ewing focuses on three schools in Bronzeville, on Chicago’s South Side, most notably Dyett High School, where news of the school’s closure sparked a monthlong hunger strike among community members. Two questions permeate this study: “If the schools were so terrible, why did people fight for them so adamantly?” and “What role did race, power, and history play in what was happening in my hometown?” Ewing’s investigation looks at the development of selective enrollment schools, designed to expand the “choice” within the Chicago Public Schools system, in which students need not attend the schools in their immediate area, but can choose among schools across the city, a model that often puts black families with limited access to transportation, time, and information about schools at a disadvantage. The deeply moving final chapter addresses the Bronzeville community’s sense of mourning in the loss of “institutions, like our schools that have helped shape our sense of who we are.” Ewing’s work, a tribute to students, parents, teachers, and community members, is essential for general readers confronting the issues of “school choice” and school funding, as well as useful for historians of the African-American experience. [em](Oct.) [/em]