Did Koch Brothers Bankroll Segregation?

Film suggests that the billionaire brothers and Tea Party backers bought school board in Wake County, N.C.

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Charles and David Koch, billionaire Tea Party activists (Google)

Trymaine Lee of Huffington Post Black Voices outlines the battle involving the Wake County, N.C., school district, which has dismantled its integration policy. The once national model of school integration was sent backward when a new conservative school board took over, filled with Tea Party members who decided to abolish inititiatives to integrate schools along racial and class lines.

The NAACP and other civic groups protested the move because of the correlation between poor populations and a lack of resources as it relates to this school district. Add to the mix Charles and David Koch, billionaire brothers and Tea Party backers who allegedly bankrolled the Tea Party candidates, and you've got a hot, smoking mess.

Check out Lee's thorough rundown of the drama in Wake County, including a film that suggests the Kochs bought the election as part of their libertarian approach to politics. Whatever your thoughts, know that if the current plan sticks, it will reverse integration in this school system as we know it.

The stakes in the battle over the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina couldn’t be higher.

On one side are the billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, and the Tea Party and libertarian groups they fund. On the other, parents, students and community leaders who are bent on stopping measures passed by the conservative-led school board that they argue would re-segregate the county’s public schools, which had been a national model for diversity and integration.

Since 2000, Wake County has used a system of integration based on income. Under this program, no more than 40 percent of any school’s students could receive subsidized lunches, a proxy for determining the level of poverty. The school district is the 18th largest in the country, and includes Raleigh, its surrounding suburbs and rural areas. It became one of the first school systems in the nation to adopt such a plan.

But Wake County’s plan became a political flash point when five conservative candidates, bankrolled by Americans for Prosperity, a political activist group funded in part by the Kochs, were elected to the school board on a “neighborhood schools” platform that would dismantle the existing integration policy.

The new board touted their plan as one that would end busing and eliminate class, and subsequently race, as a factor for student school assignments. The "neighborhood schools" plan would assign students to schools closer to where they lived, meaning students from mostly poor and black communities would likely attend schools whose demographics were much the same. White children from well-heeled families would be more likely to attend schools filled with upper-middle class white children and enjoy more resources.

The elections led to heated protests. Under pressure from community groups and activists, the school board halted the plan for further review. It has since developed a number of alternative plans, though most of those would still have some re-segregating effect.

The NAACP filed a complaint with the Department of Justice in response, and there have been legal challenges based on the plan's constitutionality ...