The Chicago Teacher Residency Rule: One Thing CPS Gets Right

A former colleague of mine wrote an article recently that Chicago Public Schools should end the requirement that to work in CPS you must live in the city of Chicago limits.

There are a lot of things that CPS does that I strongly disagree with, from having mayoral control of the schools, to not having an elected school board and just the overall top down undemocratic way that CPS runs schools.

But the rule that to teach in CPS you must live in Chicago is one rule that CPS gets rights.

As teachers we have a moral obligation to helping make the lives of our students better.

One way to make our students lives better is to make the city that we all live in better. There at times is already a disconnect between the lived experiences of our students and the experiences that we teachers have. The thing is, even if we don’t live in the specific Chicago neighborhood in which our school is located we still are infinitely more aware of what life is like for our students than say if we were able to commute from surrounding suburbs. Yes, I could have my students share their experiences so I could attempt to understand and relate to them, but the disconnect between teachers and students will only be greater if they live in Englewood or South Chicago and I live in Orland Park, Oak Park, or Schaumburg.

We owe it to our students as voters, taxpayers, and parents to have a political, economic, and educational stake in this city.

The 40,0000 teachers who work for CPS are an important voice in the electoral process in Chicago, as we have seen with the most recent round of Mayoral and Aldermanic elections. The actions of the teachers who make up the Chicago Teachers Union are changing the way schools are run and the way this city is run. We would have significantly less tangible ways to exert positive change for our students if we had no voting privileges for our students.

We owe it to our students to pay taxes to this city to help improve it for everyone. Yes, the way the money is used or not used needs improvement, but the politicians need our revenue to fund improvements. These same politicians also need our voices to pressure them to use our revenue the way that it should be used.

We owe it to our students to be teachers who not only work in CPS but also send our kids to CPS. By having our children attend CPS, we obviously will have more at stake in wanting to improve the schools for all children in the city.

Teaching is about building connections with our students. We teachers may have differences between our students and us regarding race and/or economic status, but by living in the city, paying taxes, and sending our kids to CPS, our students can see that through our differences we also share many common bonds, most importantly the desire to improve the city that we all call home.

We teachers love and care about our students, which is why discussions about the teacher residency rule and any and everything else that impacts our careers as teachers are vital.

But to truly care about and fight for the schools our students deserve, we must also live in and fight for the city that we all deserve.

Published on Catalyst Chicago

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