Race & Equity On Campus: Asheville High School & SILSA Students Speak Out

Feb 27, 2019

Last month Asheville City Council members and school officials gathered to address  the growing  gap in discipline rates and academic achievement between  black and white students in the district.

High school students have had a lot to say about racial disparity on campus.

Their voices were heard and recorded last year during The Listening Project - a collaborative effort between Asheville High, Silsa and the Asheville City Schools Foundation .    BPR's Helen Chickering spoke with Asheville High Principal Dr. Jesse Dingle,  Asheville City Schools Foundation’s Copland Rudolph, students Seth Bellamy, Ivah Tyson, Astrid Reed Kennedy and English teacher Heidi Freeman about the project and where it goes from here.   

From the Asheville City Schools Foundation:

In 2017-2018, our staff collaborated with Asheville High and the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA) in a Listening Project. The Listening Project was a collaborative effort to identify the current student perceptions of needs, assets, barriers, and opportunities with regards to their educational experiences at Asheville High/SILSA. Data was disaggregated by race to identify differing experiences which might suggest the need for differing supports.

Volunteer listeners completed 100 hours of one-on-one interviews with students representative of our high school population. Student responses are being utilized to create an action plan to increase equity and enhance success for all students at Asheville High and SILSA.

This project was an effort to identify the current student perceptions of needs, assets, barriers, and opportunities with regards to their educational experiences at AHS/SILSA. Data was disaggregated by race to identify differing experiences which might suggest the need for differing supports.

You can find the executive summary here

Last year, Listening Project student participants told ACSF that they want to talk about race. Students are uncomfortable with the disparities they see everyday in their classrooms and community, and they want to be part of the solution.   That  message inspired this year's event.  On Thursday,  February 28th  the school is holding The Listening Project Live: Youth Voices on Race, Gentrification and Home featuring Poet and MTV Cultural Critic, Hanif Abdurraqib.  Abdurraqib will meet with students and during the day. 

The public is invited to an evening event, Thursday, February 28th  at UNC Asheville featuring students in the Listening Project Live: Youth Voices on Race, Gentrification and Home. Poet and MTV Cultural Critic, Hanif Abdurraqib, and Poet, Teaching Artist and Imagination Activist, Glenis Redmond, will moderate this powerful evening of spoken-word poetry.

Find out more here