Monday, January 24, 2011

Darn those carpetbagging schoolteachers!

The breaking news that a judge doesn’t think Rahm Emanuel meets the residency requirement to run for Chicago mayor reminds me of the city’s rule that teachers (and some other city workers, such as cops) have to live within city limits. Milwaukee has this rule for teachers, too, and apparently Buffalo. Anywhere else?

Sometimes people can get waivers in high-needs areas, but on internet bulletin boards you can find lots of teachers frustrated at not being able to access jobs in town because they live in the suburbs. Local reporters cover this every time bills to kill the requirement pop up and die, but I think at a time everyone wants to up their game in teacher recruitment and quality, the topic is due for some national illumination.

Politicians talk about teachers only being able to understand their students’ needs if they live near them, and they attempt to link the desolateness of places like Detroit to the lack of a residency requirement for city workers. The counterargument—that if you get the best possible people in your schools and educate children as well as possible, that will help your urban core too—doesn’t seem as compelling to politicians. I don’t understand why they cling to these rules. Educate me.

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