Urban History

HIST 27307  Schools and Space: A Chicago History  (N. Kryczka, Teaching Fellow)  This course fuses urban and educational history into a two-century case study of Chicago. When the Chicago Public Schools closed fifty schoolhouses in 2013, many stressed the links between public education, uneven neighborhood investment, and racial segregation. But this episode was part of a longer regional history of how metropolitan development, labor markets, and anxieties over migration affected educational policy. The course stresses the relationship between educational policy and the politics of urban development, gender, and race. Schools were sites of gendered work, for the women who operated them and for the children who navigated the moral and vocational paths laid for their futures; meanwhile, the rise of racial ghettoes had an enduring impacts on educational inequity and the shape of African American political life. Over the time span covered by the course, the United States became an indisputably "schooled" society, and Chicago was a leading indicator of national trends. Key historic episodes in American education—the rise of the modern high school, the birth of progressive education, the origins of teachers' unions, the Catholic encounter with race, the fragmentation of suburban school districts, the civil-rights critique of de facto school segregation, the pronounced "failure" of urban education, and the triumph of choice-and-accountability reforms, and the teacher-led resistance that followed—are especially well-illustrated by this course's focus on Chicago. This course combines lecture with discussions of primary sources and secondary literature each week, beginning with the one-room, log-stable schoolhouses of the antebellum Illinois prairie and ending with the nation's first charter-school teacher strikes in 2018. In addition to composing a research paper on a chosen school or school policy, students will take a field trip to local schoolhouses, reading the city's urban history through its educational architecture.