If you are fortunate, every once in a while you will meet someone who breathes the fire of justice. In my life Sarah Chambers, a special education teacher from Maria Saucedo School in Chicago, fills that role.
Yet, this is the teacher who the Chicago Public Schools suspended last week pending a hearing that could lead to her firing.
Sarah is everywhere in Chicago when there is a call to defend children with disabilities. She is the leader of the Chicago Teachers Union Special Education Task Force, the co-chair of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators, a member of the union’s executive board, and a negotiator on our latest bargaining team.
So, why would the Chicago Public Schools send her a letter the night before our Spring Break removing her from the classroom?
I can only come up with one answer. Fear.
Fear of the truth Sarah tells. Fear of the power of her leadership. And fear of the crumbling of the neo-liberal design for schools: underfund the schools, watch them starve, and blame the failure of the schools on the children, teachers, and the communities. Once our schools are deemed unfit they are ripe for privatization by our mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and his friends. Sarah’s work interrupts these plans.