Dear Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson and all interested parties,
We write to urge you to take immediate action to return Sarah Chambers to her classroom at Saucedo Elementary School. We believe that failure to do so is an injustice that negatively impacts the lives and futures of her students, school community, and youth everywhere.
As a national organization devoted to the intersectional struggle for educational equity and justice, we are concerned that the administration of Chicago Public Schools is not equitably serving students of color and has been taking action to terminate teachers like Ms. Chambers who strongly advocate for the rights of students.
It is our understanding that:
- Students at Saucedo have not received proper staffing of their IEP minutes despite Ms. Chambers’ advocacy on the subject and that Ms. Chambers’ suspension without cause has exacerbated this problem.
- Ms. Chambers sponsors the Gay Straight Alliance at Saucedo Elementary which has helped create a safe space for LGBT students, including those historically bullied or dealing with mental illness.
- Ms. Chambers has been a vocal proponent of a Citizens’ Police Accountability Board, which would help students victimized by the school-to-prison pipeline.
- Ms. Chambers is an exemplary classroom teacher who effectively navigates her own privilege to meet students where they are at and support their growth and learning as a student and whole person
- Ms. Chambers has continually worked with students’ families to advocate for undocumented students and families.
- Ms. Chambers has taught students to better understand local, municipal, state and national assessments (to which district staff have often responded by harassing students, parents or educators for exercising their basic human and professional rights around the topic)
It is a key part of our mission to “mobilize our resources and serve as champions for students, parents, and educators of color and their allies who are attacked, criticized, censured, denied opportunity, fired, or harmed due to their pursuit of educational equity.” Ms. Chambers’ situation is a clear example of this type of injustice and we applaud her efforts.
We also understand that you are pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of Chicago students in order to force the state of Illinois to equitably fund the education of students of color within the state. We fully support this action; we are also concerned that the district’s own inequitable treatment of schools, educators and students might jeopardize this struggle.
We are supporting Sarah Chambers and demanding that she be immediately returned to Saucedo Academy, so she can support all of our students. In addition, we would invite Chicago Public Schools to partner with us to probe internal practices that inequitably target educators of color and educators who specifically advocate for students of color. We would like to believe that CPS has a commitment to educational equity for all students and supporting the educators who are devoted to that goal. Please take concrete actions on these issues immediately so as to most benefit the students of Chicago.
EduColor Advisory Committee