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.”