By Kim Kalunian, WPRO News
The Providence Student Union (PSU) will stage a "zombie march" and "die-in" at the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education this afternoon.
The PSU plans to dress as zombies and march from Burnside Park in Providence to RIDE's Westminster Street location Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m.
The "die-in" is being staged as a protest against new guidelines that link graduation eligibility to high-stakes NECAP tests.
The Facebook page for the protest has this offer:
"Rhode Island's NECAP graduation requirement is taking away students' futures and chances at a good life. And our obsession with standardized testing is turning us into brainless zombies!"
"So grab your fake blood and ripped pants and join the Providence Student Union on Wednesday, Feb. 13th to show the Department of Education what this policy will do to us. Meet at 4pm at Burnside Park (by Kennedy Plaza), and we will zombie-walk to RIDE by 4:30. It's ZOMBIE TIME!"
RIDE Commissioner, Deborah Gist, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying she appreciated the student's efforts and has offered to meet with them, but she won't be at RIDE during the demonstration:
"I commend the Providence students for advocating on behalf of great public schools. I attended the recent Providence Students Union rally at the State House, where I heard the students emphasize that they want a high-quality education that will provide them with the knowledge and skills they need for success. I could not agree more. I spoke with members of the Providence Students Union at their rally, and I offered to meet with representatives of the group to discuss graduation requirements and the Diploma System. Although I will be on a school visit this afternoon, my offer to meet with the students still stands."
New graduation requirements would link students' performance on the NECAP (New England Common Asessment Program) exam to their graduation eligibility starting in 2014. The most recent NECAP proficency data was released earlier this month.