CPS teacher Sarah Chambers at an opt-out rally in front of Saucedo Academy, 2014. Photo: Fred Klonsky
On a cold February afternoon in 2014, dozens of parents, teachers and students gathered on the front steps of old Harrison High School in Little Village. The Harrison building now houses several small schools including Saucedo Academy where CTU member Sarah Chambers taught special education,
Until last week.
300 Saucedo parents had signed letters opting out of the standardized state test, then known as ISAT.
“The Saucedo educators have taken a bold step in refusing to administer a test that is of no use to students and will be junked by the district next year,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has already said the ISAT will not be used for selective enrollment, and therefore this serves no purpose other than to give students another standardized test. We know that parents all over the city are opting their children out of this unnecessary test, and we commend them for doing what is in the best interests of their children.”
Sarah Chambers was a union teacher and activist in that fight, and for battles over testing and special education.
Barbara Byrd-Bennet, by the way, is now facing 7 years in prison for corruption.
Sarah Chambers has now been suspended by the CPS board and faces termination for her activism.
That’s pretty much Chicago in a nutshell.
What else is the suspension and charges against Sarah Chambers but a message sent to all teachers, a Mother of All Bombs, targeting teachers who speak out against corporate reform and the cuts to special education.
I have no doubts that the Chicago Teachers Union will defend their member with all the tools that they have.
But never underestimate the power of our voices and the need to defend those who speak out for our kids.