Senate votes to end Chicago teacher residency requirement

By Timothy Magaw
Posted3/26/2010 12:01 AM

SPRINGFIELD - Chicago public school teachers could move to the suburbs under a proposal that cleared the Illinois Senate Thursday that would end the city's residency requirement.

Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the plan, said eliminating the residency requirement for Chicago public school teachers would also broaden the employment pool, allowing the best teachers to teach within the city's limits.


"We have folks that are rethinking careers and going into teaching," Steans said. "We also have lots of retirements coming up. We also have teachers who have spouses who may be losing their jobs and might have to move to the suburbs to be with family members."

Chicago Public Schools oppose the change, and school officials warned the proposal could hurt the city's economy if large numbers move out and property tax revenue drops.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, cautioned it would be dangerous to remove the teachers from the community.

"It should be more than a job. It should be an investment in the communities and the children that come from the communities," he said. "I think the residency requirement is an initiative that makes the teachers that are in the classroom more sensitive to the communities that the children that they teach come from."

Sen. Dale Righter, a Mattoon Republican, called the Chicago residency requirement an "educational Berlin Wall."

"The notion that we're not going to do more to expand the quality of teachers that we could have in those schools and every school is foolhardy," Righter said.

The proposal now heads to the House for consideration.