A new video from a liberal group is accusing the conservative Koch brothers of having bought the Wake County school board elections in 2009 in an attempt to resegregate the school system.
The 11-minute video, released today by Brave New Films founded by Robert Greenwald, is part of a series of films attacking the Koch brothers. For this film, a variety of local supporters of the old diversity policy go on to blame the Koch brothers for the 2009 election results and ignore the notion that there was any large grassroots support for the changes.
"In 2009, the Koch brothers tried to destroy the Wake County Public School system," says a blurb flashed on the screen.
The connection to the Koch brothers is made through their support of the conservative Americans for Prosperity. During the film, Bob Geary of the liberal Independent weekly says "Americans for Prosperity put hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of effort into helping the school board candidates first get organized and then nominated and elected."
Quoted throughout the video are 2009 school board candidates Rita Rakestraw and Karen Simon, who blame the Koch brothers for their defeat. The video says they "lost against Koch supported candidates."
Rakestraw complains they were fighting opponents backed by billionaires.
Simon contends that the Koch brothers were like the Wizard of Oz pulling the levers behind the scenes in 2009.
"We went to a gun fight with knives," Simon said.
The video intersperses clips of state AFP President Dallas Woodhouse and then-candidates Chris Malone, Deborah Prickett and John Tedesco talking about neighborhood schools and forced busing with the same words being used in the 1970s by segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace.
"Forced busing is absolutely a code word," Geary said.
The video also shows scenes at magnet schools, including white and black students interacting together and praising the old diversity policy.
Speakers warn that ending the diversity policy will have negative consequences.
"I think the Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity will end up creating resegregated schools and harming us economically in the long run," said campaign strategist Perry Woods, who worked for some of the losing school board candidates in 2009.
The video includes comments from Quinton White, who was among the students reassigned from Garner High to Southeast Raleigh High for the 2010-11 school year. The video describes these students as "among the first phase to be resegregated."
The video also shows scenes of the various protests that have taken place with Sue Sturgis of the liberal Institute for Southern Studies, saying that "what happened here really woke people up."
"In response to the protests the Wake County school board put a temporary halt to the resegregation plan" according to a blurb on the screen.
Looking ahead into this fall's elections, Gerald Wright of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children says "we can definitely win but we have to go back to where we started." That means, he said, taking on the Koch brothers.
"Wake County is now attuned to the fact that the Koch brothers' influence is here dismantling the public schools and I'm hopeful that we're going to stop that," Geary said.
"To the Koch brothers, why don't you just leave, leave us alone so that we can continue to grow and prosper," Simon adds. "Leave our children alone."
The new film has been picked up on several liberal websites, including this article in The Huffington Post. One likely result is that it will increase outside donations for Democratic school board candidates.
Dallas Woodhouse, state AFP president for North Carolina, called the accusations in the video about the group's involvement in the 2009 school board elections "bald-faced lies."
Woodhouse said they did not spend any money in 2009 to support school board candidates. He added that they didn't send any mailers or make phone calls to support candidates then.
Woodhouse said AFP's legal team has contacted Brave New Films and The Huffington Post to demand retractions.
Click here for this blog post for a longer response from Woodhouse.\
Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films was promoting the video on the Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC on Monday. Click here to view the interview.