Monday, June 21, 2010

Do you care where your child’s teacher lives?

Can anyone explain to me the point of school system residency requirements? Julie Deardroff of the Chicago Tribune brings us an egregious example—though maybe it is a typical example—of such a policy in action. A school social worker donated a kidney to his supermarket checker, and Chicago Public Schools wants to fire him because he doesn’t live in the city? I would love to read more context about where residency rules still endure and the rationale behind them.


  1. Here's a story I wrote on a Miwlaukee case a while ago:
    The teacher, as I recall, ended up in the Waukesha school district, where he was quite happy. To my knowledge, Milwaukee and Chicago are the only two school systems (among the largest 50 in the US) that still have residency rules. Dropping the residency rule in Milwaukee comes up often, but there's not much actual momentum behind changing it. The city's political leaders want to keep as many people with middle class incomes in the city as possible and the teachers' union, although on record as opposed to residency, has higher priorities (health insurance). Some suggest the union doesn't want to lose teachers in the city for fear it will weaken the union's influence in School Board elections.

  2. Interesting. I don't know much about this at all. But I would assume that residency requirements are motivated largely by political considerations (as described by Alan Borsuk above) and ostensibly by the desire for teachers to walk into the classroom with a better understanding of where their students come from.

    I've taught in three school districts in three different states, and I've always lived in the neighborhood of the school that I taught in. Although I certainly don't think it should be required, I think I was a better teacher because of it.

  3. I've always interpreted it as an attempt to keep local tax dollars (paid in salary) in the area.