student fights idiotic english language exam

This is an outrageous story out of Iowa... Lori Phanachone is a Laotian American high school senior at Storm Lake High School. She's a member of the National Honor Society, has a 3.9 grade point average, ranks seventh in the her class of 119 and has been offered a number of college scholarships.

But to school officials, she is considered illiterate and has been serving three days of in-school suspension. Why? Lori refuses to take the complete the English Language Development Assessment, a test she says is demeaning and racist: Student rejects 'demeaning' test, is suspended.

According to administrators, taking the test is mandatory because Lori indicated on her school registration that English was not the first language spoken in her home. Her parents are Laotian and still speak little English. These adminstrators obviously don't know a damn thing about growing up Asian in America.

So speaking Lao at home automatically puts Lori's English proficiency in question? If that's the policy, it's flawed to the core. Does the school district not realize that it's entirely possible that Lori somehow earned that 3.9 GPA while also being completely fluent in something other than English?

No doubt, she could rock that exam, but that's not the point. Lori was born in California and lived in New York before moving to Iowa with her family. She has apparently never been enrolled in any English Language Learning or ESL program. But she refuses to deny her family, culture and identity, and that's why she's taking a stand. She shouldn't have to take this damn test.

Now, she faces another three days of suspension for continuing her refusal to take the exam. She could be suspended again and then expelled for a fourth refusal. According to school administrators, her college scholarships -- $86,000 at Buena Vista University and more at Iowa State University -- could also be at risk.

This is utter bullshit. Ridiculous, racist, and an absolute insult to someone who is obviously bright, accomplished, and completely proficient in English. I give mad props to Lori Phanachone for standing up for what she believes in. I wish I had her kind of conviction when I was in high school. Fight this, girl.

By the way, the assistant principal, Beau Ruleaux, actually told Lori to give up her refusal to take the exam because she's "no Rosa Parks" and wouldn't succeed in her protest. The guy sounds like an ass. How about he takes the English Language Development Assessment and we see how well he does?

There's more on this issue here: Protest of language test gets student suspended. And here: Storm Lake, IA student refuses to take 'demeaning' test. I understand that there are a lot of forces working against her, and a lot at stake that could affect her future. I hope she hangs in there.

If you'd like to support Lori Phanachone's fight and speak out against this ridiculous, useless English exam, here's some contact information for administrators at Storm Lake. Let them know that you stand by Lori, and this is indeed an issue worth protesting:

Paul Tedesco - Storm Lake School District Superintendent

Mike Hanna - Principal

Beau Ruleaux - Assistant Principal

The phone number over at Storm Lake High School is: (712) 732-8065.

angry archive