If you live in North Carolina, no doubt you have heard of the struggle in Wake County over neighborhood schools. In 2009, the Wake County School Board obtained a new majority of Tea Party members backed by the state chapter of Americans For Prosperity. This new majority pushed for and won the ending of busing policy in favor of neighborhood schools. Wake County had a policy of busing students around to avoid racially divided schools. They wanted to have socio-economic diverse schools by limiting the number of free and reduced lunch students allowed at each school. Because minorities make up a disproportionate number of students who qualify for this, the policy basically led to a resegregation of schools.
Under the message of saving the school system money, this new majority wanted to end this policy and return to neighborhood schools. This sparked a bitter fight between the school board and groups like the NC NAACP. There were protests and arrest, and enough noise made that the national media picked up on the story. There are plenty of issues with all aspects of the story. There are pros and cons to both sides of the issue. For me, the biggest issue was voter turnout. These new members all ran on the message of ending the policy, and returning to neighborhood schools. Voters simply did not turn out to vote. The new majority was able to take over with minimal voter participation. If the same number of people who participated in the protest, had turned out to vote or do get out to vote work, maybe this would not have happened but I digress.
There were other forces at play that may have made this inevitable though. There have been a number of growing stories about the money the extreme right is dumping into campaigns and where it is coming from. The names range from the Koch brothers to Art Pope, and they have received both local and national attention for their contributions. Brave New Films, is doing a series of documentary short films to expose the Koch Brothers and how their money has pushed the agenda of the far right. The latest installment discuss their role in the Wake County Issue, and exposes the money behind the desegregation of the Wake County Schools.