Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side - Pacific Standard

Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side

Sociologist Eve Ewing analyzes the closings from multiple angles.
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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.

Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side
Eve L. Ewing
University of Chicago Press

Five years ago, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan to close as many as 330 of his city's public schools; eventually, the list was pared down and 49 were shuttered. Eighty-eight percent of the students affected were black.

In Ghosts in the Schoolyard, sociologist Eve Ewing analyzes the closings from multiple angles, shifting between journalistic accounts of the protests they inspired, close readings of transcripts from public hearings, and historical analysis of the city's starkly segregated educational opportunities.

In the Emanuel administration's narrative, the closings have everything to do with optimal use of space, and can't possibly have a thing to do with racism. Ewing—a teacher increasingly well-known for her poetry—dismantles these claims, effectively situating the closings as just one of many disruptive traumas inflicted on the city's black communities.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September/October 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now to support independent journalism in the public interest. It was first published online on September 13th, 2018, exclusively for PS Premium members.

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