Zombies marching on streetYesterday, PSU staged a “Zombie Protest” to bring attention to the possible impact of RI’s new high-stakes testing graduation requirement. PSU member and part-time zombie Cauldierre McKay explained why we are opposing the policy. Check out the video here! Full text of the speech is included below.

“Hello, I am Cauldierre McKay and this is the Providence Student Union. We came here today to bring attention to a policy whose impact on the youth of Rhode Island is deadly serious.

We are here to protest the use of the NECAP as a high-stakes test, and to demonstrate how this policy is unfairly putting thousands of students in danger of not graduating. We all know that without a high school diploma a person has drastically reduced life opportunities and a severely limited future. To take away the diploma we’ve worked for is to take away our life—to make us undead. That’s why we’re here today, in front of the Rhode Island Department of Education, dressed as the zombies that this policy will turn so many of us into. We’re here to say:

NO EDUCATION, NO LIFE

As we have said before, we at the Providence Student Union believe we need high expectations, and we know that with the proper support, resources, and improved teaching and learning, students in Providence and across Rhode Island will be able to reach those high standards.

But the fact is, we have not gotten the proper resources and the proper support from the state. For the state to punish so many individual students for its own systemic failure to deliver a high-quality education is an injustice on a massive scale.

And while the Commissioner keeps assuring us that all the students currently in danger of not graduating will be given the resources they need to pass the NECAP next year, she is offering zero support to allow districts like Providence to fulfill this commitment.

Even worse, RIDE’s claim that this policy will help increase achievement is factually broken. A comprehensive 2011 study by the National Research Council concluded that, “high school exit exam programs, as currently implemented in the United States, decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing achievement.” In other words, the research is clear that this policy will do nothing to improve our education while denying many students a diploma—the diploma they need to make it through life.

How many students are we talking about here? On Friday, the state released the NECAP scores for this year, and we learned that 40% of juniors in Rhode Island are in danger of not graduating. And here in Providence, a terrifying 60% of the Class of 2014 is at risk of not receiving a diploma. Let me repeat that—60 percent! 60 percent of my peers are in danger of not being allowed to take the next step in life, to continue with their education, to get a good job, to have a real future.

Since the effects of such a horrifying ratio are hard to imagine, we thought we’d give RIDE a visual aid to help them understand the extent of the damage their policy is causing.

Here’s the future of Providence:

NO EDUCATION, NO LIFE. *Zombies die, one at a time.*

RIDE, this is the future. This is what this policy could do. Forget the zombie apocalypse, this is the NECAP apocalypse, and we won’t stand for it!”