Letter: How can instructional gaps be closed at Asheville High?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

My child is a student at Asheville High School, where we are dealing with a bizarre situation. He is in an elective class, and the original teacher left school employment on March 30, having given notice so the administration had time to plan. Since his departure, the students have had substitutes who have provided no instruction.

There were a couple of PowerPoints provided that crashed when the kids tried to open them. On Wednesday, May 10, they were sent links by another staff member, who indicated that the links had information on the exam for the class. Practice tests were provided, but the information in the links did not line up with the practice tests. We are not sure if this indicates anything, but it sure looks like the links are not addressing the coursework. This whole time, AHS has been aware that students are not being instructed during class time.

I am also a public servant. I know how stretched all agencies are. I feel that many otherwise suboptimal coping methods might be appropriate here. Give the kids a list of topics to research and present to each other. The sub could oversee that, even having no training in the topic. Give the kids access to the lesson plans that I presume were approved by the administration at the beginning of the year and have them do reading on the topics, even if hands-on activity is not possible. But don’t leave them idle.

I wrote to the principal on May 14, but as of May 18, parents had not been contacted at all by the school about the situation.

I don’t know how we as a town deal with this. We are hemorrhaging teachers, and I know the administration is in a hard spot, but leaving kids uninstructed is unacceptable. I want rich people to pay some taxes so we can properly fund public services, but that is a long-term solution. I want teachers and students to have a positive work environment, respect and care, which is also a long-term issue. Where do we start as a society to properly support our schools? Even if you don’t have a kid, these kids are our future nurses, and you want them well-educated.

— Claire Dima Ellington

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Asheville City Schools with the letter writer’s points, and we received the following response from April Dockery, ACS executive director of operations, on behalf of the Asheville High administration: “We apologize for any disruptions caused by the absence of the original teacher at Asheville High. We have been trying to provide instructional continuity by providing a substitute each day. Additionally, we’ve had another staff member take on the additional duty of providing materials and resources. We acknowledge the challenges faced and are actively working on alternative teaching methods to ensure continued learning. We appreciate the suggestion of assigning research topics for peer learning and will improve our communication channels. Rest assured, we are committed to resolving this issue and providing the best possible education for our students. While we regret that we could not find a qualified instructor this semester, we have hired one who will take over these courses for the fall semester.”


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5 thoughts on “Letter: How can instructional gaps be closed at Asheville High?

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    Get YOUR child OUT of government screwls just as FAST as you CAN! They will thank you forevah !

  2. indy499

    LOL, I assume ole Claire wants somebody else to cough up even more tax $?

    Our taxes are extraordinarily high vs comparable places. We have chosen not to address obvious inefficiencies like merging the city and county systems and drop associated overhead.

    And who wrote this silly headline?

    • Worker Bee

      The headline had me expecting this letter would address the racial disparity in educational outcomes at Asheville High. But no, just clickbait.

    • Claire Dima

      Hi! I’m the author. I do indeed think that more taxes need to be sent to the schools. We need to stop acting as if rich folk don’t need to participate and actually tax them, and use the money to improve all services, starting with schools and transportation. Investing in education has only ever been a positive. We ought to act as if the public schools are the engine of good that they should be, and invest in them. All the teachers I know and am related to are working hard to help the kids love learning, respect themselves and to be excited about being active citizens. Teachers ought to have a pay raise nationwide and if folks who are attacking teachers nationwide really care about schools like they say they do, maybe they should consider volunteering to help in the libraries or as an afterschool tutor as opposed to attacking the materials taught. I am a firm believer in the fact that schools should be well-funded, respected and a haven for all the students. Merging the city and county systems might represent some savings, but don’t pretend that it would actually result in sufficient funding. As to the headline, I wrote it.

      • Jt

        I understand your concern about the snafu with the lack of instruction, but have a different take on the money issue. Asheville has very high property taxes compared to other cities, so efficient use of that money isn’t evident, given intractable city problems. Clearly throwing even more money at mediocre schools isn’t going to fix systemic rot. Better accountability for that money is needed. Also, teachers in some states are quite well paid, especially given the generous benefits and long and frequent breaks. Six figures for working 9 months a year is unreasonable.

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