The quick summary of the message from Thursday night's meeting is that neighborhood schools and political conservatism are bad.
As noted in today's article, the teens of N.C. HEAT argued that neighborhood schools will lead to resegregation and that the Wake County school board majority is controlled by conservative groups. The teens didn't have nice words to say about Steve Noble, chairman of Called2Action, and conservative businessmen Art Pope and Bob Luddy.
Enloe High student Robert Wright said the school board's policy is being set by Called2Action and Pope. He said members of the board majority are "puppets used by conservative organizations."
As previously noted, Wright is the son of Calla Wright, president of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children.
Wright added that the school board majority is "pushing an agenda of right-wing politics and privatization." He said they're "fighting the oppressors of Wake County."
Fellow Enloe student David Eisenstadt said Caled2Action is a "homophobic organization" led by tea-partiers and the radical right. He brought up school board chairman Ron Margiotta's ties to Called2Action, where he was a founding member.
The teens again brought up how much money Luddy and Pope had given during last fall's election campaign. Eisenstadt said that while it's not confirmed that Pope and Luddy now secretly are giving the board majority money, he told the crowd it’s possible.
The teens noted the various conservative groups funded by Pope and his family.
"We plan to fight these organization till they fall," Wright said.
The teens asked the crowd of more than 50 people to "take direct action" by going to Tuesday's march in downtown Raleigh and that afternoon's school board meeting.
(Before you guys say it's just Enloe students, NC HEAT also had teens from other schools, including Southeast Raleigh, Athens Drive, Middle Creek and Green Hope.)
"It's either paranoia, propaganda or misinformation on their part," Pope said of the charges from the students.
School board member John Tedesco said the adult activists are "brainwashing the kids with propaganda."
"It's a shame that these adults are using these kids as weapons," Tedesco said.
In the crowd Thursday was Dante Strobino, a union organizer affiliated with Raleigh F.I.S.T. (Fight Imperialism Stand Together), a self-professed socialist group. Strobino was one of the protesters arrested at the March 23 meeting.
Strobino didn't speak Thursday but received hugs from audience members and NC HEAT members.
Another audience member, the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, 2nd vice president of the state NAACP, did speak up.
"This school board has been hijacked by a conservative extremist element of the community," Gatewood said. "They’re pretending that they have a mandate. They do not."
Gatewood accused supporters of neighborhood schools of giving false choices.
Gatewood said one false choice is saying that poor parents will be able to be more involved if their kids are in a neighborhood school. He said most poor parents don't work in their neighborhood.
Gatewood said the other side must be "assuming that poor parents are home watching BET."
Gatewood said the other false choice is telling people that kids will perform better in neighborhood schools. He pointed to how high poverty schools generally don't have the high quality teachers found in more affluent schools.