Parent speaks out about Charleston RISE

by Robin Steinberger | November 4, 2018 4:41 pm

Trena Walker is a parent of three students at Hursey Elementary in North Charleston. Until recently, she was also a member of Charleston RISE, which describes itself as a parent advocacy group. She feels compelled to come forward and tell her story before the school board election on Tuesday.

Walker was a kindergarten assistant at Chicora Elementary. She states that the children ran the school and there was a total lack of discipline. She left Chicora and was looking for something better for her children. She was then told about Charleston RISE. She went to an interview and was accepted as a “student”. Charleston RISE offered her a $300 weekly stipend to attend a meeting every Thursday. The stipend was to pay for child care and transportation.

There were 50 people in Walker’s class at Charleston RISE. They were mostly African Americans and all wanted to improve the education opportunities for their children. She attended meetings for at least three months. The focus of the meetings was to advocate for charter schools such as Meeting Street at Brentwood, which is a public/private partnership. Charleston County School District (CCSD) gives the school the standard per pupil allocation, but the school has no district oversight.

Charleston RISE is a participant in the non-profit Coalition for Kids, a group that is advocating for the re-election of three incumbents for the Charleston County School Board. Walker questions whether the Coalition has the best interest of the kids. She questions why two banks and several corporations are involved in the coalition. Walker said, “RISE and the Coalition are dangerous. Mostly for people like me, who are looking for a way out of CCSD chaos.” Walker added, “African Americans are being bamboozled. My children are more important than Charleston RISE.”

As a member of RISE, Walker collected 100 emails at her church, with an incentive to be given a flat screen television. These emails were used to spread the word about the Coalition for Kids candidate slate. The emails recommended voting for the Charleston County School Board incumbents.

Walker is disillusioned with the agenda of Charleston RISE. She questions whether it’s really about improving education for kids like hers. She stated, “Education is a gift that cannot be bought!”

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