Ghosts in the Schoolyard, education sociologist Eve Ewing’s new book about the 2013 Chicago school closings, answers the question, “Why do people care so much about schools that the world has deemed to be ‘failing’?” Ewing does so by delving into the history, politics and sociology of Bronzeville, one of Chicago’s most historic African-American neighborhoods, reporting on events from a personal, academic and journalistic viewpoint.

Eighty-eight percent of students attending schools closed in 2013 were Black. Using humor, compassion and righteous anger, Ewing explains the racist Chicago history that led to the closings, including segregation, the construction and destruction of housing projects, and the lack of affordable housing and jobs in Chicago. Parents didn’t “vote with their feet,” which Chicago Public Schools claimed was the reason for under-populated schools. Black people were driven out of the city.

Ghosts in the Schoolyard is an academic book, based on thorough and thoughtful research, and it is also a page-turner. If this seems contradictory, it is because Ewing is an extraordinary writer, and is able to make complex concepts understandable and interesting to a wide variety of readers. Teachers, after you’ve read this book, consider assigning it to your high school students.   —Carol Caref, Ph.D., CTU Education Policy Director

Join us Oct. 18 at the CTU Center for the official launch party for Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side. This free event will feature a reading from the book, commentary and updates from organizers at the forefront of the struggle for public education in Chicago, a Q&A and a book signing. General admission is free. Admission plus a copy of the book is $25. Tickets are available at

This article appears in the September 2018 issue of the Chicago Union Teacher.