Facing South

Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in N.C. school re-segregation fight

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dallas_woodhouse_bnf_still_vert.pngThe Brave New Foundation video released earlier this week about the Koch brothers' role in the fight over school re-segregation in Wake County, N.C. has struck a sour note with Americans for Prosperity. The Koch-funded conservative advocacy group is the focus of the video for its involvement in an effort to end the public school system's student assignment policy based on economic diversity.

The head of AFP's North Carolina chapter is demanding a retraction of remarks that I made in the video -- even though statements he made himself confirm they are true.

In a memo sent this week to the Institute for Southern Studies, the nonprofit publisher of Facing South, AFP-NC Director Dallas Woodhouse (in photo above, a still from the video) objects to the following statements that I made in the video:

"Follow the money -- it is real."

and

"Americans for Prosperity played a very important role in the Wake County elections."

Woodhouse asks:

"What role is that? Did Sue follow the money? If so what did she find? Did she find campaign finance reports with Americans for Prosperity's name on them?

Again, AFP played no role in the 2009 [Wake County school board] election.

On the matter of whether AFP played a role in the 2009 election, Woodhouse himself acknowledged his group's involvement in a statement he posted to the group's website this past January:

"The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity -- along with our Wake County members and other key allies -- were pleased to play some small part in this fight," said AFP North Carolina State Director Dallas Woodhouse.

In a follow-up interview with Newsweek also this past January, AFP's national office and Woodhouse both confirmed that AFP's North Carolina chapter worked on Wake County's 2009 school board election:

As for AFP, its national office says the national organization has not been involved with the Wake County school board, but that the state group affiliate has.

Woodhouse told Newsweek that AFP-NC did voter education and volunteer work on the Wake school board campaign. It should be noted that AFP's state group affiliates are in turn supported by the national organization.

Indeed, Woodhouse appears to have a hard time keeping his stories straight about AFP's role in the Wake County public schools. AFP-NC's web page is filled with pages of announcements -- many written by Woodhouse himself -- related to Wake school politics.

As to whether I found campaign finance reports with AFP's name on them -- no, I didn't. But then, I didn't claim that I did. Nor did I claim that AFP-NC bought any ads related to the race.

Neither does the Brave New Foundation video say that the money flowing from AFP to the school board election was in the form of direct campaign contributions or ad buys, though perhaps it could have made that point more clearly. The video quotes Bob Geary, a reporter who covers Wake County for the Independent Weekly newspaper:

The Koch brothers didn't put money directly into the Wake school board elections. But indirectly, Americans for Prosperity put hundreds of thousands of dollars and lot of effort into helping the school board candidates get first organized and then nominated and elected.

AFP-NC's investment in organizing around the Wake County school board can be traced back at least to the 2006 mid-term election, when there was a $970 million local school bond issue on the ballot. AFP-NC took the lead in organizing opposition to the bond, using the controversy over student assignment as one of its rallying points. The group also worked closely with a number of local organizations that would later play an important role in the 2009 election.

Though AFP-NC lost and the bond issue passed, the group continued to organize against the school board and its assignment policy leading up to the last election.

AFP-NC did not do this work for free, hence there is indeed money to be followed.

And it's work that paid off richly for AFP-NC -- one reason why it's so curious to see the group now trying to distance itself from accomplishments it once proudly claimed.

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re: Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in

Excellent rebuttal to the attempts of AFP to try to escape association with their deeds, just as the Kochs try to hide from responsibility for promoting this vile and vicious sort of attack on established American institutions and practices. Based on the stories I've read about AFP local chapters, they are ideological zealots who are quite willing to abandon standards of decency to promote their extremist agenda. Oregon, for example, demonstrates the mindset of a state AFP leader: http://boycottkochbrothers.com/blog/?p=1255 . I'm grateful for another excellent expose' by Robert Greenwald. Only from information such as this will Americans wake up to the insidiousness of the Kochs and their many right-wing groups promoting the plutocrats' agenda.

re: Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in

Sue - Its really a shame you never spoke to anyone who actually worked on that campaign before you so easily took this bait. Its made Brave New Foundation and anyone believing their fabrication look pretty ridiculous here in Wake County. Most real people here - citizens that is, of any political persuation, know what really happened, in spite of the spin that the media wants to put on it. I am unaffiliated, just for the record, but I have Dem friends here locally who are mortified that this video is being associated with their party.

Its just so bizarrely wrong in so many ways its clear that someone has an agenda far afield from educating students, which is what the 2009 elections were about.

I have 3 school aged children in Wake County and was very active in that election. This 'article'/video is a total fabrication. The election was truly a grassroots effort which took BOTH parties by surprise. The Dems are ticked off and taking revenge now, and the Repubs hijacked the success as their own. Families from across the county - from all walks of life and political affiliations - came together and voted candidates in who would support STABILITY (children I know were moved 5 times in 5 years; 8 times in 12 years) and ACADEMIC ACCOUNTABILITY. The group that spent the most money on the campaign was a spontaneously formed group that was funded by family grocery budgets in donations of $20 - $100. Families had finally had enough politics in the school system. The former system targeted academically disadvantaged children for the most instability and labeled any child who took a free and reduced lunch as unable to be in advanced classes - even though they tested at top capability!

The real story was never reported because it was too mundane and didn't have any famous names attached to it.

Don't be fooled by this propaganda. None of we who were active on this campaign (and there weren't that many of us) had heard of the Koch brothers until this video came out.

From the local view, from an 'insider' this big REVEAL about the AFP and the Koch brothers bankrolling the 2009 WCPSS BOE elections is almost too bizarre to be amusing. AFP in Raleigh basically IS Dallas Woodhouse. Period. Hundreds of thousands of dollars? ROFL. I would really have to see the accounting on that, considering that we touched and were at least aware of most places and collateral that might have been expenditures.

I realize that my bubble popping is unglamorous and it won't have any traction, but I thought you might like to be aware that this was a total flub on your part.

Maybe you're totally cognizant of all of the misinformation and gaps in understanding in that video and are perfectly fine with being used as a tool for national politics. But in case you're not fine with it, you might want to fact check before you go and just believe people and put your name to it.

re: Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in

I attended a School Board meeting where Woodhouse forecfully screamed "Security!" --as though he had some personal authority in that place -- and, apparently he does, because Security did come running at his behest-- to apprehend an older African American pastor, because he refused to step away from the microphone until his allotted two minutes was up. He had refused because he had repeatedly and stunningly rudely been interrupted and cut off by Board Chairman Ron Margiotta.
Clearly, Woodhouse would have "some of us" arrested for insisting on our constitutional right to speak.
I was shocked -- he implies his motives are patriotic, but showed his true colors that day.
The problem is, when one makes as much angry noise as Mr. Woodhouse tends to, the contradictions are pretty easy to spot.

re: Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in

Are you speaking of Rev. Barbar and company who staged a sit-in and wouldn't relinquish their seats when the BOE came back from deliberation? Or are you talking about one of the other staged protest events by well-organized nationally connected groups? From an average citizen's perspective - those whose views were trampled by both extremes - its hard to tell.
I do know that there were people of all types who saw this 'story-line' early on as a political football, totally ignoring the SCANDAL of the SAS report and what it revealed about the systematic discrimination of the former system's assignments. Kids who were tested at Level 4 & higher put into Level 1 math - meaning that they would never be able to take the required courses in High School to become an engineer, doctor or scientist - instead put into remedial math. REMEDIAL! Imagine that torture. A fine intellectual talent put in the slow lane. Why? They had unfortunately been targeted by this system (that Barbar defends now!) as either a) minority or b) economically disadvantaged or - god forbid both. The former system marked them for failure if any of those variables were in play.
THAT was what this new board was voted in to change. And they are slowly doing it. Check out the facet of the story that has to do with Academic Accountability and Algebra 1. I dare you.

re: Americans for Prosperity wants to revise history of role in

In case there is anyone out there who wants to understand this a bit more than just throwing fun little word bombs around, in 2009 it was determined, among other breathtaking social scandals, that 85% of African American males who scored at the highest levels (Level 4) were placed in Level 1 math. Not just a step down, but Level 1 - remedial. Why? Because the former system used variables like race and income to determine readiness to take Algebra 1 in eighth grade. Algebra 1 in eighth grade is the gateway to higher academics. Did you read that clearly? Yes you did. The system used race and income to decide if children could learn or not. It is on record and the media has conveniently swept it under the rug. Too complicated? Too inconvenient? Uncomfortable? Absolutely.
This is the system that the citizens of Wake County voted OUT in 2009. And this is the system that the NAACP has been supporting. This is the story you will not read because even our own local paper rated this SCANDAL a 'B' level story.
The current system is implementing a system of DATA CENTRIC academic accountability. Doesn't matter what you look like or where you come from, if your scores show you can do it, in you go to advanced classes. Does that sound like segregation to you?
You see? Its a bit more complicated than just throwing convenient and inflammatory labels around. If you really care about this issue and these kids, Sue Sturgis, Brave New Foundation, MSNBC and Huffington Post et al, I encourage you, I dare you to read this whole set of blog posts and really try to digest what has been going on here in Wake County. It is not at all like the lie that has been so damagingly tried to use our school system and our students as stepping stones for a National political agenda.
http://blogs.newsobserver.com/...
Shame on you. All of you.