In the midst of a new search for an Asheville schools superintendent, much conversation has occurred around Asheville City Schools and the racial disparities there. Much pressure has been put on the Asheville City Schools district to do better and to decrease the racial disparity in education.
Asheville City Schools can and should do better, but what about Asheville city? I would argue that this is not just an Asheville City Schools problem, but an Asheville city problem and that Asheville city should bear a brunt of the responsibility. A large portion of the students who are filtering into the Asheville City Schools system who are falling behind academically are coming from the poorest neighborhoods in our city, neighborhoods funded by and represented by Asheville city. Neighborhoods that City Council members and Asheville city have a responsibility to serve.
Many of these children come to school already disadvantaged in part because of the communities that they live in, where there are little to no economic opportunities for their families. They have limited access to good preschool education, positive role models or extracurricular activities due to income barriers in their home, and they live in communities where I would venture to guess most citizens of the city of Asheville would be afraid to visit.
It does not escape me the amount of money that the city of Asheville funnels into the tourism industry here in Asheville, yet we do not have the money or funding to make the communities where these children live safe or enriching. I, for one, think this is deplorable and unacceptable and would like to see Asheville city do more to help the most vulnerable citizens of our community.
— Arlene Whiteside
LCSW-A (Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate)