Chicago, IL - Sarah Chambers is one of the best-known rank-and-file leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). A distinguished, award winning Special Education teacher at Maria Saucedo Academy, her name is a familiar one to politicians, and to the Board of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Photos of her leading protests to defend her students have appeared regularly in the Chicago media, and even in the New York Times.
On Thursday, April 6, she was fired. According to Chambers, CPS labor relations head Joe Moriarty said that they wanted to fire her because of reasons related to the PARCC test (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). PARCC has been rejected by teachers and their unions because it is a confusing test, a waste of educational time, and seen as part of corporate school reform efforts designed to dismantle public schools and privatize education.
Her supporters see this is as an attack on Chambers, who is co-chair of the CTU Special Education task force. It’s also an attack on her school, Saucedo, which is a fortress of union militancy. Each time there are site protests against budget cuts, to demand progressive revenue to fund the schools, or rallies are held to defend immigrants and refugees, Saucedo turns out big. When a strike vote is taken, Saucedo is one of the schools that votes overwhelmingly for fighting the school board for fair contracts.
Chambers stands in the tradition of the young woman after whom the school is named. Maria Saucedo was a teacher and social activist that fought for the community of Chicanos and Mexicanos in the 1960s.
A petition posted on line to defend Sarah gathered over 1000 signatures overnight. Please support Sarah Chambers: sign the petition.
“Public schools are underfunded and under attack. Teachers and staff are fighting to provide quality education to their students. Sarah Chambers, a distinguished award winning teacher from Saucedo Academy, is one of the leaders in this fight. She has been especially vocal in advocating for special education students and LGBTQ students. Now Chicago Public Schools has suspended her and is threatening to fire her for her courageous advocacy. Stand up, be counted and say NO to this injustice.”