CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — Some Charleston County parents are done waiting for the school district's perceived problems to resolve themselves.
Tuesday night, 12 women became the first-ever graduating class of the education advocacy group Charleston Rise.
The group went through an intense 20-week course, learning the ins and outs of the education system and how they can effectively advocate change on the local level.
“I am Wonder Woman, I am ready,” said Darcell White, a participant and mother of two. “I have my shield. I am ready to go to battle.”
They’re fighting for equality in all Charleston classrooms. New data proves there’s more work to do. Unveiled Tuesday, elementary school rankings based on third grade English and Math scores.
Buist Academy ranks first, and Edmund A. Burns Elementary ranks last.
“Whenever we looked at the data, it brought us to tears,” said Cheryl Cromwell, parent organizer for Charleston Rise. “I cried because this is borderline criminal when you look at it and see how poorly African American children are doing in Charleston County School District.”
“A lot of the schools that I thought were really good schools, (I found) out that all of them are failing,” said Shawna Smalls-Anderson, also an advocate and mother of seven. “To find out that only 12 percent (of third graders) can actually read on the third grade level.”
The findings brought newfound purpose to the group.
“I just see how dire a need there is for a movement like this right now,” said Cromwell.
“We don’t look too good,” said White. “I’m happy with this group, that we’re able to equip our parents to go out and knock on doors and let them know where our students stand in Charleston County and we want the best for our students, we want the best.”
After 20 weeks, they now feel empowered and equipped with the tools to have their voices heard in a constructive way. Throughout the semester, the group got rare opportunities, including a one-on-one meeting with Superintendent Dr. Gerrita Postlewait.
There will be a much larger class next semester, as 20 advocates are signed on for the next rotation.