This afternoon, Asheville City Council met with members of the Asheville City Schools Board of Education. Ho-hum numbers were shared and school jargon tossed about. It was stressed that skin pigmentation did not cause the achievement gap; rather it was more of a contrast between the haves and have-nots.

Following the formal presentations, Councilman Marc Hunt asked what city council could do to help. Members of the school board, led by the ever-wise Gene Bell, made a lot of sense. Bell, who also heads the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, complained that people were despondent. They don’t have jobs, their parents and grandparents didn’t have jobs, over half their neighbors don’t have jobs, and it’s hard to tell them they had to get a jobs if all that earns them is a decreased housing subsidy. Earning a living is foreign to their psyches.

Al Whitesides said when he was growing up, the community pitched in together to make things happen. He was a black kid in a segregated world, and yet he and others felt inspired to achieve things people said they couldn’t. They didn’t sit around and expect things from the federal government. He and Councilman Jan Davis recalled having a mommy and a daddy that would kick their behinds if they didn’t do well. Davis, who has been around the block a few times, calmly asked what council was to do. Whitesides suggested treating the problem like a pie. One doesn’t eat the whole thing, but people could address the obvious problems as a start.

Jacquelyn Hallum spoke against putting people on “poverty reservations.” She spoke well, but I disagreed with her on programs. She believed they were the answer, but blamed their lack of success on cancellations from defunding and problems getting kids to sign up. I blame it on abdication of compassion to an administrative structure.