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Board of Education continues to gag parents and teachers who want to speak in opposition to Board policies, while pushing charter schools and privatization to the top of every Board meeting agenda....

Despite a long-standing policy of having union officials speak to the Board of Education during the public officials portion of the meeting, the Board of Education under President David Vitale tried to gag Chicago Teachers Union Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle (above, at the protest before the July 22, 2015 Board meeting). CTU staff member Jackson Potter took the microphone to demand to know why the Board, which had just allowed 12th Ward alderman George Cardenas to go on for a full eight minutes, was not calling on Mayle to speak. The Board secretary, Estale Beltran, called TIME! as precisely two minutes and for the second month in a row Mayle was stopped from completing her remarks.During his four years as President of the Chicago Board of Education, David Vitale did everything in his power to gag the public -- and union officials -- and to promote the massive privatization of the city's public schools. One of the major ways Vitale undermined the First Amendment rights of citizens while promoting the privatization projects (which includes charters) was by claiming that only 60 speakers should be allowed to sign up to speak at each Board meeting, based on the absurd math that claimed that "Public Participation" can be no longer than two hours, and that each public participation speaker is only allowed to speak for two minutes (two minutes + 60 speakers = two hours, the math went).

Like much of Vitale's work (including his claim that only Board members had the "true facts"), the project was designed to keep critics from being on television and speaking with reporters who were trying to find out what was truly taking place in the city's public schools. The six other members of the Board joined Vitale in the work of stifling the public while encouraging the privates, with Mahalia Hines and Henry Bienen being the most smug in attacking critics.

Chicago Board of Education Secretary Estela Beltran (above left) works monthly with Chicago's charter schools to suppress the critics of privatization and promote those who promote charterization, like Andre Broy (above right). Above, Beltran and Broy work to ensure that the majority of speakers approved for the July 22, 2015 Board of Education meeting are speaking on behalf of the charters. At the same time -- literally-- Beltran refused to note the presence of Chicago Teachers Union Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, then cut off Mayle's remarks, for the second month in a row, before even two minutes. Earlier, Beltran had allowed Alderman George Cardenas to speak for nearly eight minutes! Substance photo by David Vance.Not once, since January 2015, have the public participation included all 60 speakers who were signed up to speak. The project of gagging the public and critics reached its peak at the Board's July 22, 2015 meeting, Vitale's last, when Vitale gagged a union officer, allowed a friendly alderman to go on for a full eight minutes, and made sure that every charter school supporter got to speak, while having plugged the sign-up for public participation at less than five minutes into the sign up time.



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