Letter: Helping our students achieve in math

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Five hours east of Asheville on I-40 is the world’s largest concentration of employees of IBM — no longer the archetypal New York company. Five hours west on I-40 is Nashville, soon-to-be home of AllianceBernstein — a 1,000-strong New York asset manager. As this knowledge-based, high-paying corridor takes shape, where is Asheville?

Nowhere. Whatever policies are tried, our city faces a huge barrier to escaping the low-paying “tourist destination” role and joining the technology based economy.

To do so, our kids need to compete successfully (on a global scale) in — at the very least — numeracy and literacy. At the recent joint city/school board session, we learned two things — there are large achievement gaps within grades in our schools, and overall, most of the kids do not make the grade in math (three in four eighth graders in the middle school in 2018, for example).

Commissioner [Al] Whitesides’ response was to suggest that more resources are needed, but with our high expenses per pupil, there’s not going to be much more money available from malevolent neighbors and a malicious state. Talking to the kids themselves, it’s clear that, in many cases, one problem is that when they ask for help at home, they only get an embarrassed giggle and a shrug — and the older generation’s “I was never any good at math” gets passed on.

Maybe what’s needed is a “School Maths for Grownups” program — at the very least to show how school maths have changed over the last few years. We’ll be working up such an effort over the summer, so look for announcements in the fall.

— Geoff Kemmish
Asheville

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5 thoughts on “Letter: Helping our students achieve in math

  1. Richard B.

    Excellent comment from Mr. Kemmish.
    Unusual for Mt. Express, that there was no hint of what role he plays within the educational community, which would be nice to know information.
    Pinging on the student only, as most efforts have done over the years, ignores that he or she is a part of a larger, connected system.
    Going to the home, or bringing the home adult authorities to the school (learning facility), has to be an integral part of any effort to improve a student’s performance. This is basic Systems Theory, whether you are dealing with a family, an auto that is malfunctioning, or a large organization, or the Solar System.
    This person is right on. Pay attention to him.

    • Virginia Daffron

      Hi Richard B., I checked with Geoff Kemmish, and he gave me permission to say that he is a frequent volunteer and tutor in the Asheville City Schools. I’m not frequently present in the schools these days, but I have seen Geoff working with students at Hall Fletcher Elementary and Asheville Middle School when I just happened to be there in recent years. Geoff says he also volunteers at the Christine W. Avery Learning Center and the S.T.A.R.S program.

      • Richard B.

        So he certainly does know the subject being discussed.
        Just adds to the validity of his wise and experienced counsel.
        There are people, like you and Mr. Kemmish, who need to have the ear of the politicians and planners.
        There are sensible steps to take that promise better outcomes than the old remedy of proposing more cash be tossed
        onto the Education pile in hopes that it will magically transform families and motivate a desire for learning.
        Thank you Ms. Daffron.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    NOW is the time for the elitist exclusionists at ACS to realize that there is NO equity nor equality nor TRUE diversity until we have an ALL ONE system for the children AND the taxpayers. WHY do these controlling bureaucrats NEVER want to MOVE FORWORD with education in Asheville and Buncombe County ??? ACS is an outrage.

    I imagine the letter writer realizes the massive problems within government screwls everywhere!

  3. indy499

    Gee, Geoff, you say we have high expense per kid and shouldn’t count on more resource. Then you describe neighbors as malevolent.
    Your argument is inconsistent.

    Last, your argument is built on sand. The old “in many cases” doesn’t cut it.

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