Asheville educator advocacy group rallies for a seat at the table

FIGHTING FOR A VOICE: Members of the Asheville City Association of Educators rallied outside the Asheville City Schools administration building June 10, asking the board to give their group a larger voice in district decision-making. Photo by Caleb Johnson

In May, the Asheville City Association of Educators (ACAE) became one of two educator advocacy groups in the state with at least 50% of the district staff signing on as members. Ever since reaching that threshold, the group has been petitioning the Asheville City Board of Education for a seat at the table.

On June 10, the group delivered a letter signed by the Parent Teacher Organizations or parent teams from all eight of the district’s schools to the Asheville City Board of Education. (Asheville High School and the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences [SILSA] share a PTO.)

The letter supports a request ACAE has made of the district to establish a “meet, confer and collaborate” committee with an equal number of ACAE representatives and administration representatives. The committee, as proposed by ACAE, would collaborate on drafting new policy and setting Board of Education agendas.

ACAE has also requested the district officially recognize its status as the official employee representative organization for district staff and enshrine the nature of the group’s collaboration with Asheville City Schools (ACS) in a district policy.

“These employees work tirelessly each day to serve students; know what our students, families, staff and schools need; and communicate regularly with families. ACS employees belong at the center of decision-making about how to weather the very real challenges facing our district which we believe will lead to happier staff that want to stay and better outcomes for students,” the parent organization leaders wrote in the letter.

The letter cites ACS’ highest-in-the-state teacher attrition rate as further proof that ACAE should be a part of the district’s efforts to retain staff.

According to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s State of the Teaching Profession report, nearly 31% of ACS teachers left the district in the 2022-23 school year, the most in the state. For comparison, Buncombe County Schools saw 16% of its teachers leave that year.

District spokesperson Kim Dechant said the ACAE proposals have been submitted to the board but have not been placed on a board meeting agenda.

TEACHERS KNOW BEST: Carol Smith-Hill, foreground, spoke to the Asheville City Association of Educators members gathered at a rally before the Asheville City Board of Education meeting June 10. Photo by Caleb Johnson

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One thought on “Asheville educator advocacy group rallies for a seat at the table

  1. John Brigham

    Why would the teacher’s union even want a “seat at the table?”
    Teachers have very demanding jobs and they would want to be left alone. They should have confidence in the leadership of the school district. This nonsense is certainly emblematic of broad problems in the Asheville City Schools, But I suspect that this represents the problem. This looks like the garbage that encourages teachers to leave the Asheville City Schools. Where does this come from?

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