Awards, Books for the News, Education

“Ghosts in the Schoolyard” by Eve L. Ewing Receives the 2020 Laing Award

The University of Chicago Press is pleased to announce that Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago’s South Side is the recipient of the 2020 Gordon J. Laing Award. The award will be presented during a reception in September at the University of Chicago Rubenstein forum.

The Gordon J. Laing Award is conferred annually by vote of the Board of University Publications on the faculty author, editor, or translator whose book has brought the greatest distinction to the list of the University of Chicago Press. Books published in 2018 and 2019 were eligible for this year’s award. The award is named in honor of the scholar who, serving as general editor from 1909 until 1940, firmly established the character and reputation of the University of Chicago Press as the premier academic publisher in the United States.

Published in hardcover in 2018 and reprinted in paperback in 2020, Ghosts in the Schoolyard draws on Ewing’s insider experience in the Chicago Public School system—as a student, a teacher, and a researcher— to situate the City’s wave of school closings in 2013 within a larger context. Ewing reveals that this issue is about much more than just schools. Black communities see the closing of their schools—schools that are certainly less than perfect but that are theirs—as one more in a long line of racist policies. The fight to keep them open is yet another front in the ongoing struggle of Black people in America to build successful lives and achieve true self-determination. The book was praised by Ta-Nehisi Coates and was widely discussed from coverage on NPR to “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” and The Nation.

Garrett Kiely,  Director of the Press commented, “The enthusiastic reception of Ewing’s book shows the power and necessity of the work. It is a fantastic example of writing and research that speaks to ongoing and significant conversations about public schools and racism in Chicago and across the country. I am very proud to have this book on Chicago’s list.”

Ewing is assistant professor in Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago.

“The University of Chicago Press has published some of the most challenging and important scholarly texts ever—in my own personal academic life, and in the nation and the world— and it was already a point of pride for me to be counted among them. So above and beyond that, I’m now stunned and honored to be the recipient of this award,” said Ewing.

Ryan Coyne, chair of the Board of University of Publications offered words of praise for the book, “Eve Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard is a shining example of an extremely rare sort of book: a carefully researched, beautifully written and masterfully executed piece of scholarship that speaks not just to academics, but to a readership that extends far beyond the academy. Ewing renders with stunning clarity and poignancy the lived experience of those directly affected by recent school closures in Chicago, and she boldly challenges the assumptions guiding these and other school closures. The Press Board is deeply honored to recognize Ewing’s achievement by recommending Ghosts in the Schoolyard for the 2020 Laing Award.”

“The Laing Award recognizes significant work by University faculty that has been published by the Press, and Eve Ewing’s work has provided a distinctive and important voice on educational issues in Chicago and nationwide. I am delighted that the 2020 Laing Award honors her achievement in Ghosts in the Schoolyard,” said University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer.

Ewing joins a distinguished list of previous recipients that includes Adrian Johns, Deborah Nelson, Alison Winter, Robert Richards, Martha Feldman, Bernard E. Harcourt, Philip Gossett, and W. J. T. Mitchell.