Movement on Teacher Residency Requirements

March 10, 2010 | Blog

As a follow up to my post last September (“Teacher Residency Requirements”), there appears to be legislative movement in both Illinois and Wisconsin to eliminate such requirements in Chicago and Milwaukee, respectively. Both cities require teachers to be residents in order to be employed in the public schools.

From District 299: The Chicago Schools Blog (Alexander Russo), 3/8/2010:

It’s an age-old question for Chicago, which is one of few big cities to require teachers to live inside the city limits. Teachers complain about it. Once in a while they get caught living outside the city and have to move or leave their jobs. The recession in making jobs scarcer and the city more expensive. And now State Sen. Steans has introduced language [Residency Bill SB 3522 (Amendment 1)] that, with the support of the CTU, would remove that requirement.

From Wisconsin State Journal editorial, 3/10/2010:

Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature and the state’s big teachers union are on the same side pushing for a smart school reform in Milwaukee.

They’re backing Assembly Bill 89, which would prohibit Milwaukee Public Schools from requiring their teachers to live in the state’s largest city.

My belief is that, while this might be good politics or even economic policy, it is bad education policy. In urban school districts that struggle to attract and retain talented and effective teachers, such a residency policy needlessly reduces the number of qualified candidates for teaching vacancies and lowers the quality of the overall selection pool.

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