While awareness of Asheville’s worst-in-state racial academic achievement and discipline disparities seems to be on the rise, agreement on specific goals for reducing the gap, the strategies and resources needed, and how long it could take to make progress remain elusive.
From 2011-17, the use of e-cigarettes by North Carolina students has increased 894% for high schoolers and 430% among middle schoolers, according to the 2017 North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey. Nonprofits and student activists are working to educate young users about the potential dangers of the drug trend.
Nonprofit Blue Ridge Health has opened eight school-based clinics: five in Henderson County, where the child poverty rate is 22.5% and 5% of children have no health insurance; one in neighboring Polk County (21.3% child poverty, 5.8% uninsured children); and, last month, two in Jackson County.
Activists with the Health Equity Coalition are organizing a Friday, May 24, community forum to explore how the $1.5 billion Dogwood Health Trust, created from the sale of Mission Health, offers the prospect of “life-changing” investments in the wellbeing of residents in 18 Western North Carolina counties. Also, it’s time to strive to drive less in the runup to the Strive Beyond Summit at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Mills River on Friday, May 31, from 3-5 p.m.
While Buncombe County’s current proposed budget includes nearly $3.6 million in new education funding, total requests from local systems on May 7 came to roughly $8.16 million. That figure includes $1.06 million more for A-B Tech, $2.09 million for Asheville City Schools and $5.01 million in increased funding for Buncombe County Schools.
Local divisions of the N.C. Department of Transportation won recognition in the state’s annual Wildflower Awards, while the city of Asheville studies noise and the Buncombe Partnership for Children deploys a $400,000 grant to train up to 60 new early childhood educators in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.
Before Long cofounded Growing Wild in 2016, she taught in a conventional preschool. “I thought the kids were miserable, and it showed in their performance and behavior,” she recalls. “I started taking them outside for longer and longer periods of time, doing lessons with natural materials, and everyone did better.”
Last year saw Duffer lead Asheville High School against 765 other teams from across the globe in the Drawdown EcoChallenge. The students achieved victory over the Taiwan Sugar Corporation in a leapfrogging race to make the most impact, earning most of their points through their time spent studying solutions to reverse climate change.
Incumbent Asheville City Board of Education members Shaunda Sandford and Martha Geitner faced tough questions from Asheville City Council at an interview session on March 26. But at Council’s regular meeting that same evening, the two were unanimously reappointed to four-year terms on the board. James Carter was selected to fill a two-year vacancy created by the resignation of board member James Lee.
Nationwide, between a quarter and a third of U.S. students have been bullied at school, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and most bullying happens in middle school. Pastor Brent La Prince Edwards’ new book aims to head off the problem by targeting a younger audience, using simple illustrations by the author and appropriate language to address the topic of bullying while building healthy self-esteem.
The N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation donated $1 million to The North Carolina Arboretum with the intent to expand Project ecoEXPLORE from 23 WNC counties to all 100 counties across the state. The grant will also fund the arboretum’s Project EXPLORE teacher education program and Project OWL, a teacher certification program.
A group representing government, education, business and nonprofit organizations is coalescing to form a community response to a severe racial achievement gap in Asheville City Schools. But it’s not yet clear how the initiative will define its goals and approach — and what resources it can attract to fund the effort.
“Oversight in this kind of system — where the board is appointed by a body with no regulatory authority, in a process closed to school employees, families and the community as a whole — is more than a little messed up. It is completely unaccountable, open to all kinds of corruption and anti-democratic, not to mention a lousy use of resources.”
In conjunction with Buncombe County voters and members of Raleigh-based lobbying group Common Cause North Carolina, the mayor will discuss how gerrymandering splits Asheville voters and advocate for nonpartisan districting reform. The press conference takes place at Pack Square Park on Tuesday, March 26, at 10:30 a.m.
On March 19, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved about $3.5 million in contracts for repairs and upgrades to four county buildings and four buildings at A-B Tech.
A new play for children, It’s Just a Pill, premiered at A-B Tech’s Ferguson Auditorium on March 8. The 55-minute musical confronts the opioid epidemic from the perspective of a 10-year-old girl. The production will now travel around North Carolina to reach over 4,000 young people.
With James Lee opting out mid-term to take a job in another state, Asheville City Council will soon select at least one new member to serve on a board that will be compelled to turn the ship around. Two other members, Martha Geitner and board Chair Shaunda Sandford, are completing their first terms on the board and seeking reappointment. Meanwhile, in a process that will play out in the coming weeks, 11 other community members have applied to be appointed.
The 2019 Appalachian Studies Association conference returns to Asheville after 27 years. The annual gathering brings together an eclectic mix of scholars, educators, activists, students, groups and institutions to discuss and present on a wide range of topics related to life in the region.
“I think you can see by the turnout here, the phone calls to City Council, our emails, our response, that Vance in general — I don’t speak for every parent here or every student — does not feel like this is a win-win,” said Vance parent Marissa Brooks at the Feb. 27 meeting.
Jason Carter’s creative instructional attitude recently earned him the honor of being named a Teacher Ambassador by the California-based National Center for Science Education. Along with nine colleagues from across the country, he will help develop, test and deploy a curriculum that addresses climate change denial.
Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a plan that dedicates $3.13 million in Article 46 tax revenues in fiscal year 2020 for capital expenses at the college. The money would keep coming in each of the next seven years, increasing 5.5 percent annually to account for anticipated increases in construction costs. The county would also cap transfers from Article 46 tax revenue to the general fund at $5 million and would limit the use of that money to operations at A-B Tech.