CPS attempt to fire Sarah Chambers prompts nationwide petition in support of the Chicago leader in Opt Out movement...

Chicago teacher and union leader Sarah Chambers has most recently added protesting on behalf of special education to her list of activist work. Above, Chambers was part of a protest against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's special ed cuts at Chicago's City Hall.Less than a day after Chicago Public Schools officials informed Saucedo elementary school teacher Sarah Chambers that she was being removed from the school and facing trial that could end her teaching job, the attack from the Emanual administration on one of the leaders of Chicago's Opt Out movement has resulted in a national outcry against CPS.

An eruption of protests on behalf of Chamber began on the day before Chicago's public schools began Spring Vacation (with a one day "furlough day" on Friday April 7) when CPS officials informed Chambers that she was being ordered out of her teaching job at Saucedo elementary school on Chicago's Southwest Side. CPS officials did not explain their reasoning, but the majority of those who have followed CPS for the past several years attribute the move to Chambers's impact on the protests against the policies of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed schools "CEO" and school board. Prior to this school year, Chambers has been one of the leaders in the citywide Opt Out movement against Chicago's merry go round of so-called "standardized" tests. With the additional cutbacks against special education this school year, she became a leader of that too.

Chambers began her union activism in 2010 as part of the rank and file of CORE, the Caucus of Rank and File Educators). In July 2010, CORE took over the leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union, and CORE lead the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. By 2012, Chambers was part of the CORE Steering Committee (which also included this reporter), where she helped lead the CORE organizing for the caucus's victory in the next CTU election. By that time, Chambers was also a member of the Chicago Teachers Union's 45-member Executive Board and a regular speaker against CPS policies.

While the details of the CPS pretexts for attacking Chambers are secret, the outcry was immediate, and after a few hours of Chicago organizing it had also gone national:


April 7, 2017


Chicago teacher Sarah Chambers faces firing because she has been fighting cuts to funding for special ed (she is cochair of special Ed taskforce) and against citywide education cuts. In recent years she also was a leader of the hugely successful teacher boycott of standardized tests at Saucedo school (complemented by mass parent and student opting out in this overwhelmingly Latino school). Here is a petition that was created to try to defend her: I hope you will join me in signing the petition.



April 8, 2017 at 4:25 PM

By: Susan Ohanian

Sarah Chambers

Speak up.\r\rSign the petition.\r\r

April 9, 2017 at 9:56 AM

By: Jean Schwab

So sorry

I'm so sorry, Sarah. This is what happens when teachers justly speak out. Keep fighting!

April 10, 2017 at 1:00 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

What a loss for Saucedo's students

With all of Sarah Chambers' talents, Sarah will always land on her feet. This I promise you, as the leader of the "free world" might say. My heart and support go out to her in this strife-riddled time. I agonize most for the students who have lost her as a teacher, as a club sponsor, and as a voice in the school and the city for the students who need her. May this ugly situation be resolved with justice in Sarah's return to her school.

April 11, 2017 at 4:27 PM

By: Rod Estvan

Why CPS is after Sarah

Sarah Chambers and a number of other CPS special education teachers, aides, social workers, case managers, psychologists, have steadfastly attempted to defend students with disabilities in their schools. Sarah has been very effective in proving children are being short changed and denied services by the intentional practices of CPS. I and other disability rights activists have worked with Sarah for several years now on the Task Force, its been an honor to work with her.

CPS hates honesty, CPS wants its teachers to be part of a conspiracy against students with disabilities to save money. In my many years advocating for students with disabilities in CPS I have seen teachers harassed for testifying honestly at hearing for children's services and I have seen teachers rewarded for giving at best evasive testimony or worse lying about services actually being provided to students.

As is evident from the many criminal cases involving high CPS officials what we have before us, what we have in Chicago, is a conspiracy pretending to be a school district.

Rod Estvan

Education Policy Analyst

Access Living of Chicago

April 11, 2017 at 8:14 PM

By: John Kugler

One by One

CPS is methodically hitting any and all activist that challenge the authority of this corrupt school district:

Rosemarie Vega (April 2015) - banned from CPS

Troy LaRaviere (April 2016) - banned from CPS

John Kugler (May 2016) - banned from CPS

Sara Chambers (April 2017) - banned from CPS

5 Activist Pension Trustees Lost Jobs:

some were also delegates in their schools enforcing the contract

Jeff Blackwell

Lois Ashford

Ray Wohl

Tina Pedilla

Bernie Eshoe

Activist Delegates lost jobs:

Kevin Hough (2010?) even tried fixing as a field rep CPS obstructed our efforts

Charles Ham (2011)KenwoodHS Strong delegate

ClarkHS 7 lost their jobs fighting admin

Manny Bermudez (2014) JuarezHSWhistleblower

Manny Bermudez (2014) JuarezHSWhistleblower

Tonya Butler(2015)ManleyHS Whisltleblower

Valentina Sorescu(2016)ManleyHSWhisltleblower

Drew Hiessermann(2016)EngelwoodStrong Delegat

I probably left a few.

This was just off the top of my head.

April 12, 2017 at 8:50 AM

By: Rod Estvan

Add George to the top of that list

Probably George Schmidt should go to the top of the list or CPS teachers that were purged during the anticommunist witch hunts. In October 1950 CPS set up a commission to promote patriotism and combat communism in schools. Senn High School teacher Emilie Noack became the focus of the attack which is discussed in John Lyons book Teachers and Reform: Chicago Public Education, 1929-70, Univ of Illinois Press 2008.

April 14, 2017 at 7:09 PM

By: Jean Schwab

Outstanding Activist

Thank you John for your list of Modern day heroes. George was probably one of the foremost heroes because the test he riled against was proven to be a horrible test and discontinued. I can think of many heroes that did their best in 2008-9 and still left because there was a desire to get rid of older teachers or out spoken activist. Under Marilyn Stewart, no one was there for us

and I know that our whole building was cleared out of exceptional teachers. Jill Weil was especially one of my heroes because she stood up and spoke out. The school benefited

by getting an elevator and smaller class size for that year. I wish any of these heroes good luck because I know how stressful this is. I wish Sarah and all these heroes the best.

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