Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side” as Want to Read:
Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  829 ratings  ·  140 reviews
“Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.”
That’s how Eve L. Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard: describing Chicago Public Schools from the outside. The way politicians and pundits and parents of kids who attend other schools talk about them, with a mix of pity and contempt.
But Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 5th 2018 by University of Chicago Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ghosts in the Schoolyard, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ghosts in the Schoolyard

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  829 ratings  ·  140 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is so well written. I am biased in my praise for this book because I am a CPS teacher, and have been for 8 years. My former school was on the list of schools slated to close. I attended many a public meeting and watched teachers, families, students, and community members beg and plead to keep their school open. So I can say that Eve Ewing hits every emotion that happened during that time period, and explains what it was like to an outsider. I’m not that outsider, but I’m here to tell you th ...more
Rosemarie Donzanti
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this book because it was on the discussion list for the Open Discussion Project at Anderson’s, our local bookstore. It is a pretty fast read and provided a lot of information on the challenges within Bronzeville, the almost exclusively black area on Chicago’s south side. Very eye opening for me to learn about the challenges and history associated with the CHS (Chicago Housing System) and CPS (Chicago Public Schools). This book specifically focused on the 2013 closings of 50 elementary sch ...more
Rachel León
Feb 17, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2018
Can we all agree that Eve Ewing is amazing?
Kayla Cruz
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"People will take everything you have, then blame you for having nothing."
Megan O'Hara
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
i feel like in quality and content this book is a 5 but my rating system has no real logic. regardless this book was great i want to read more books about chicago history. she really walks you thru how institutional racism came to be/operates today in CPS. also loved her analysis about neoliberalism and schools.
In 2013, then-mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a plan to shut down “failing” public schools at a rate previously unseen. Citing budget deficits, declines in overall enrollment, and low test scores, the closures were framed as an unfortunate inevitability, driven by objective metrics and Chicago Public Schools administrators’ desire to do better by students “trapped in underutilized schools”. Given the city’s explanation, Emanuel’s plan might easily have been interpreted as a hopeful shift; once their ...more
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
incredible observations on school closings on the Chicago south side. Rather than focusing on a broad level, Ewing focuses around a single community and the reactions expressed by those within it. Her choice to do this gave a detailed portrait of the school and the people around it, but this microscope perspective brings limitations along with it. I am fully convinced that the closing of these schools is racist, but I don’t have any insight into the inner workings of CPS aside from the fact that ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edubooks, grad-school
Beautiful and brilliant. An incredible work of sociology.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: human-rights
Parts on this book were a bit dry to me (I think just due to the author taking the perspective of a sociologist/researcher in her writing style), but parts of it were also really powerful and those parts taught me a lot and will stay with me for a long while. I would highly recommend it to those interested in inequity in our school systems. This book provides a unique perspective on that conversation that I haven’t seen anywhere else.


“These events and policies are racist b
Traci at The Stacks
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it
A super interesting book about school closures. I was happy to learn the content but was unmoved overall by the book and felt like I didn’t really get armed with more ways to discuss and approach the school closure situation. I also feel like the book lost steam in the last 1/4. Good but not great.
Megan Sanks
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race, adult, nonfiction
"This, we insist, is our home. Broken though it may be, it remains beautiful, and we remain children of this place. We insist on a right to claim it, to shape it, to keep it. We took the freedom train to get here. Might as well do the work to get free."
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
There is nothing wrong with this book but I had serious issues with the author's methodology and can't fully endorse this book because of that issue.
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018nonfic
I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
"We see that this community's choice to resist a school's being characterized as 'failing' is in fact about much more than the school itself: it is about citizenship and participation, about justice and injustice, and about resisting people in power who want to transform a community at the expense of the people who live there."
This book was excellent. It is nonfiction, but it is short and the author's s
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
“As the people of Bronzeville understand, the death of a school and the death of a person at the barrel of a gun are not the same thing, but they also *are* the same thing.”

Eve Ewing does not disappoint. “Ghosts in the Schoolyard” tells a story of the unprecedented public school closings in Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel starting in 2013. It centers the voices of the students, parents, teachers, and other community members who resist narratives about their so-called “failing” schoo
Mya Alexice
Wow. I knew the Chicago Public School system was bad, but this opened my eyes to a whole new world of gentrification, racism, elitism, and more in one of the most segregated cities in America. What is terrifying is the way nothing has changed -- from protests in the 1960s for black children to go to better schools to now -- much is the same. Great, easy must-read.
Nick Klagge
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although it's less of a fun read than "Electric Arches" (or Ironheart #1!), "Ghosts in the Schoolyard" is a worthwhile read. This book grew out of Ewing's PhD dissertation, and I think it strikes a good balance between rigor and accessibility. The focus, as the subtitle suggests, is on a series of school closings by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) a few years ago.

Along with the contemporaneous debate over the school closures, Ewing documents the history of de jure segregation and public
Sean Cox-marcellin
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ewing investigates the effects of school closures in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. There is a dearth of quantifiable measurements available, and as she notes those that exist 1. don't support the justifications made by authorities at the time and 2. cannot paint a full and honest picture, anyways. She is a part and not apart of the unfolding drama, a "boundary-sitter" spurred into action by her own connection to the places and communities affected. She peels sback the flawed narrative ...more
Karen Adkins
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is tremendous. While Ewing's subject is the closing/"turnaround" of schools in Chicago's South Side, her analysis and arguments are relevant for anyone who lives in a large or gentrifying city. She efficiently documents why communities fight so hard to keep schools that are impersonally labeled failing by removed bureaucrats, and gives a brief but effective history as to how school segregation has formed communities. It's a brave book; while Ewing is well versed in the scholarly litera ...more
A sociologist examines the 2013 Chicago public school closings, bringing in the history of Chicago social movements, city systems, neighborhood reputations...It's a fascinating and disturbing topic. I think the book is hampered a bit by being very clearly graduate work--Chapter 4 in particular reads like a chapter from an academic's dissertation or thesis. A lot of really interesting points are for some reason relegated to the notes section. And by interesting points I mean some of the endnotes ...more
Wesley Schantz
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Eve L. Ewing, author of Ghosts in the Schoolyard, would make a great guest for the Ezra Klein show. I've been curious for awhile now about this seeming contradiction: on the one hand, data seems to point to charter schools raising academic expectations and outcomes for kids of color; yet the NAACP and prominent politicians on the left have been turning against charters, more or less vehemently. Partly you might suppose this is just politics, courting the teacher unions' support, who have always ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. I think Ewing does a great job at linking Chicago’s history of racism, both individual and systematic, to the systematic, “colorblind” racism present in the Chicago Public School system’s school closings in the 2010s and beyond. Furthermore, I think Ewing’s close relationship with the community and those impacted by the decisions of CPS go further to discuss the role of a school in the lives of students, both past and present. What is a school? What can a school be?

Karen (idleutopia_reads)
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing. I knew going in that Eve Ewing was going to blow my mind and I was not disappointed. This book is wonderfully researched but what's more is that you can tell the empathy and the passion that Ewing has for the topic that she is discussing. Much like she says in the book this goes beyond CPS schools and touches on the systematic racism that plagues our history and our present times. She is able to make the connections to history and to ripple effect that affects people today. I ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A heartbreaking account of school closings in Chicago, comparing the history of racism and white supremacy involved. Chicago’s history is about limited African Americans ability to attend school and get a quality education. The current policies of creating charters schools and closing “failing” schools have destroyed neighborhoods and wiped out jobs for many African American teachers. Tearing down public housing did more, creating an increase of violence and homelessness. The author concentrated ...more
Emma Refvem
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Though I started this book before I took my qualitative research class, I am glad I waited until I had some knowledge of qualitative research until I dove further in to this one. Ewing does great research and it was interesting to see this format of critical discourse analysis in educational research. I will definitely be thinking of how to incorporate her perspectives into my own research. Also, just so sad to listen to the accounts of those mourning the loss of their institutions. The explorat ...more
Aileen Murphy
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-book
For someone who had a front row seat (my wife taught at a school closed in 2013 and at a receiving school for the following 3 years) to the closures and the aftermath I was excited to read this book. I greatly appreciated the history of the schools in Bronzeville as another lens through which to view the closings.

Was expecting more detail on the actual closures, but that is probably because I already knew most of what was in the book. For an outsider, this is a must read.

Would love
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I meant to read this book the moment it came out, and then I never made time to. I am so grateful that educators I deeply respect decided to do a Twitter book chat on it because it held me accountable for reading it carefully and discussing it. I learned so much from Dr. Ewing; I expected to read about institutionalized racism and power structures, but I also learned about institutional mourning, cultural conventions, and different ways of researching. Regardless of where (or if) you are a teach ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great, short, informative read. Unlike pretty much any other academic book I've read before, it's written in incredibly accessible and engaging prose. I read most of it in a night because once I got into it I couldn't put it down. And it does important work, especially in presenting the idea of institutional mourning and in challenging the rhetoric of CPS about why they closed schools in predominantly black neighborhoods. Highly recommend to anyone interested in education or anyone fr ...more
Kate Kelly
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must read to understand Chicago, its history, politics, and deeply embedded racism.

Eve's insights about how communities and people can mourn institutions really gets to how school closures and political power perpetuate institutional racism.

I learned so much from reading this and reflected on my own educational background, as well as the CPS schools I walk past every day.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, history

i read this book in a single afternoon the day i got it from the library. this is a cliche but i could not put it down.

Dr. Ewing's writing is really clear and beautiful, and even when she dives deep into theory, it's accessible and understandable.

i feel like this book made both my brain and my heart smarter.
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928
  • The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools
  • High-Risers: Cabrini-Green and the Fate of American Public Housing
  • High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing
  • Americans in Waiting: The Lost Story of Immigration and Citizenship in the United States
  • Friends Disappear: The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston
  • So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools
  • The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
  • Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America's Largest Criminal Court
  • White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America
  • Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race
  • The Invention of the White Race: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America (Volume 2) (Haymarket Series)
  • Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town
  • Big Hunger: Why the Richest Nation on Earth Still Struggles with Food Insecurity
  • Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill
  • Smart on Crime
  • Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing
  • There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America
See similar books…
Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist of education whose research is focused on racism, social inequality, and urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. She is a Provost's Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago; in 2018, she will begin as Assistant Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chica ...more