As a Chicago Public School teacher, I have no choice but to stay put in the city, and thank God!
In October of 2004, the Chicago Board of Education amended a residency policy that requires teachers to live within city limits. The goal of this policy was to "enhance the quality of performance of duties by employees who, as residents of the City, have an increased personal stake in the progress of the Chicago Public Schools and more awareness of conditions existing in the system" and to "increase the likelihood that employees residing in the City will have contact with community leaders and citizens through public school and community activities."
Many CPS teachers disagree with this policy, but at least in my case, living in the city has obviously increased my personal stake in the Chicago Public Schools - my own kid attends one! Furthermore, I'm getting to that point in my career when I actually come across former students in their adult lives in my community: you can imagine my surprise when I bumped into a former student (a true class goofball) while he was on duty as a Chicago cop, directing traffic away from a fire near our home. Seeing firsthand that my students do move on to important careers allows me to see them in a different light as teenagers (My mantra for misbehaving students: this too shall pass! Smile and see the positive!). I bump into my students at the supermarket, at Target - just about everywhere. I like to think that having them see me as a part of their community, too, leads to greater respect on both sides.
Living in the city has also led me to have more contact with community leaders and citizens through public school and community activities: I look forward to watching my community grow and prosper, so naturally I take part in as many activities as I can.
But besides all that, I love living in the city. Our (old) new home, purchased last summer, is located on a quiet, tree-lined street. My son can walk to his bus stop and bike around with his friends, and the kids can play in the backyard. We can walk to a great public park and swimming pool. We spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch and have lots of friendly neighbors.
It's almost like living in the suburbs, were it not for the fact that downtown is just a quick zip on the Blue Line away, as are the beaches, museums and theaters that we take advantage of just about every weekend. We can choose from a wonderful selection of restaurants and shops within walking distance.
I grew up in the suburbs and I remember my first night as a resident in a big city: the lights, the noises, the tall buildings - I relished it all. I like to think that my kids have the best of both worlds: a quiet city neighborhood with the best that Chicago has to offer at their feet.