Commentary

Disincentives to Teach in Chicago

Chicago provides a clue as to why teacher turnover might be high and to why as the Seattle Times reports in a given year, “almost one-third of the 3.4 million K-12 teachers are moving into, between or out of schools.” The Chicago Sun Times reports that complaints about city teachers and other public school employees living illegally outside Chicago tripled during the last school year. The horror: Chicago public school teachers were caught living as far away as Plainfield, Lockport and even in posh Glencoe, according to Inspector General James Sullivan’s annual report, released Thursday. Almost all CPS employees hired after 1996 must live in the city, and this school year, principals were ordered to make sure new hires move into the city within six months of their starting date. Schools CEO Arne Duncan insists the system has been able to recruit more and better qualified teachers, despite the residency requirement. Sure. Way to be competitive and attract those high quality teachers. And good to know Chicago is targeting resources to improve the quality of education for the city’s students.

Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Snell has frequently testified before the California State Legislature and numerous other state legislatures and government agencies. She has authored policy studies on school finance and weighted student funding, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers.

Snell is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, School Reform News and Privatization Watch. Her writing has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Ms. Snell is also an advisory board member to the National Quality Improvement Center for the Children's Bureau; is on the charter school accreditation team for the American Academy for Liberal Education; and serves as a board member for the California Virtual Academy.

Before joining Reason Foundation, Snell taught public speaking and argumentation courses at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Master of Arts in communication from California State University, Fullerton.