MILWAUKEE - The ACLU of Wisconsin today announced that former Wisconsin public school teacher turned attorney Elisabeth Lambert has joined its staff as an Equal Justice Work Fellow. The fellowship lasts for the next two years.
Lambert left teaching for law school to become a more effective advocate for children. During her time at the ACLU of Wisconsin, Lambert will focus on student rights and racial justice in Wisconsin public schools, providing legal representation to children dealing with racial harassment and discrimination at school, navigate the school discipline process, and hold districts accountable if BIPOC children are disproportionately targeted for suspension and expulsions.
She will also work with educators to help them be effective advocates and allies to students in their schools, and train educators about students’ rights and about the role teachers can play in protecting those rights.
“In this society, children do a huge portion of their growing up in school, they’re required to, by law. When public schools tolerate discrimination and harassment, when they punish and exclude kids instead of offering support, those schools are denying or failing to see those children’s humanity, its damaging and wrong. And yet for a lot of kids in Wisconsin schools, especially kids of color, that sort of experience is the norm,” Elisabeth said. “I want all kids in Wisconsin to experience childhoods focused on learning and growth, and not simply on survival. To really make this happen is going to require leadership, honesty, critical examination, powershifting, by a whole bunch of people at a whole bunch of levels. The law is a tool I can use to push schools and communities towards this sort of critical self-reflection. It’s one way I can contribute to this larger movement towards change.”
Lambert graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University in 2004, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Milwaukee in 2010, and finished first in her class at Marquette University in 2018 with her law degree. In 2010, she was named a Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English Outstanding Student Teacher.
Lambert interned at the ACLU of Wisconsin while she was in law school, clerked for a federal district court judge for two years after law school, and spent four years teaching high school English in a public school near Milwaukee, supporting students in forming a multicultural student’s organization and a spoken word poetry club.