Chicago teachers are cool to home visits

Inspired by a charter network that requires teachers to visit students’ homes twice a year, Chicago Public Schools’ new CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, said house calls would be a good idea for district schools. “That comment precipitated an outburst of alarm from teachers across the city concerned about safety and whether they would get compensated for the after-school visits, reports the Chicago Tribune.

During a news conference at an UNO school, Brizard said, “Four hundred thousand kids in CPS, 25,000 teachers. If you count principals, assistant principals, office staff — if we each took 10 kids and promised to visit one a month, can you imagine? We could do it too.”

When asked about teacher safety in violence-plagued communities, he said, “Our kids go there every day, so why not?”

The teachers union called the suggestion a “half-baked” idea, and teachers took to local blogs to complain.

“Where is the responsibility of the parents? There is no responsibility on their part. I am not going to do it,” wrote one teacher.

The district has no plans for home visits.

Home visits should be voluntary for both teachers and parents, suggests Parent Teacher Home Visit Project, a nonprofit with programs in 11 states. It recommends a small stipend — $20 to $35 per visit — for teachers.


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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    I used to be active in the life insurance business. Seeing folks at home, “kitchen table business” is a part of the job. People in the market for life insurance are at least somewhat pulled together. Especially if you’ve done some qualifying. Not necessarily true of their neighborhood ,but pulled-together people are more likely to live in neighborhoods where their neighbors have their hockey squared up.
    And still, I would never suggest a woman make some of those visits, especially after dinner.
    And it’s probably a minimum of half an hour’s drive each way. Unless the teacher stays at school for an hour or so if she can’t get the first visit at, say, three-thirty. And then the next one is not necessarily just down the road from the first one, which would be handy except the next-down-the-road family isn’t going to be available until next week….
    So she’s not home until nine.
    What are these clowns thinking?

  2. I do voluntary home visits every year. Once I started doing them I realized how valuable they are. l learn so much about the families, make true connections with the parents, and see the children shine in their natural environment. I see whose family is living in one bedroom of an apartment they share with 3 other families, whose family has lots of literacy around the house and who does not.
    I’ve always done them off the clock and unpaid, but I always went with my co-teacher.
    Of course, home visits were easy to do when I did not have a child. This year I am not sure how I will swing them, but I hope to figure something out because they are so meaningful.

  3. Our new elementary school has teachers doing home visits. Always in pairs or groups of 3; lots of advance logistics done by our operations person; translators available.

    This is an expensive us of teacher time.

    But the idea is to attach a single home visit to what will become 20 to 30 phone call check-ins during the year.

    A single home visit seems to have value in activating the efficacy of teacher phone calls.

  4. But… I thought that the theme of the day was that home and community aren’t relevant to school environment, and all that matters is what goes on in a classroom.

    Going back a few decades, one of my mother’s older peers visited a student at home and, upon being introduced to the pet cat asked, “Why did you call the cat ‘Coke’? Coke is black and your cat is white!”

    I’ve visited some ‘dangerous” neighborhoods for a variety of reasons, and although there are some gang-dominated areas and housing developments that you wouldn’t necessarily want to enter alone, for the most part they’re not all that dangerous. Lesson number one: Don’t wear a suit – nobody wearing a suit is bringing good news. Lesson number two: Don’t wear anything you can’t strip off and dump in the wash upon your return home. Some houses will be so clean and orderly that you’ll be embarrassed for your own housekeeping, but others will smell so strongly of pet urine, rotten food, grease and the like that you’ll need a shower after even a short visit. (I was usually seeking or interviewing witnesses for criminal cases, so I would hope that some of my experiences would be a bit more extreme than those encountered by teachers.)