Racism and School Clos­ings on Chicago’s South Side

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Political And Social Science -

Eve L. Ewing, Univer­sity of Chicago Press (OC­TO­BER) Hard­cover $22.50 (240pp), 978-0-226-52602-7

Ghosts in the Schoolyard is a chill­ing must-read in­ves­ti­ga­tion of racism in Chicago’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

One might think the days of black stu­dents fight­ing for their right to at­tend qual­ity schools are long gone, but Ghosts in the Schoolyard re­minds us that times haven’t changed so much at all. This book re­veals just how badly ma­jor­ity-black schools are treated; au­thor Eve L. Ewing ex­plores how, why, and where to go next.

Each chap­ter de­tails a poignant el­e­ment of the fight against school clos­ings in south Chicago. A har­row­ing hunger strike against a school clos­ing leaves pro­test­ers hos­pi­tal­ized. Mem­bers of a com­mu­nity speak with fiery ur­gency and pas­sion at a hear­ing de­fend­ing their school. An en­tire town mourns the loss of a neigh­bor­hood school, one that had been in fam­i­lies for gen­er­a­tions. The anec­dotes, facts, fig­ures, and tes­ti­mony come to­gether ex­pertly to form a tragic tale of im­plicit racism.

In ad­di­tion to its poignant con­tent and touch­ing cast of char­ac­ters, this book is tech­ni­cally su­perb. Ewing’s crisp prose is suc­cinct and invit­ing, never lack­ing in en­ergy. This book never backs down from cri­tiquing the hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, and le­gal sys­tems that con­trib­ute to the plight of cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties in Chicago. The history Ewing writes of school seg­re­ga­tion, clos­ing, and un­der­fund­ing on the South Side con­nects and builds ob­vi­ously to the dis­tress­ing present mo­ment, when stu­dents, par­ents, and teach­ers must again fight for one of the most ba­sic rights in Amer­ica: the right to a good ed­u­ca­tion.

Eve L. Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard deftly de­tails a mi­cro­cosm of a larger pic­ture where some peo­ple’s free­doms are much more com­pli­cated than oth­ers.

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