Just caught wind of this over at Angry Asian Man...
Lori Phanachone, a 2nd generation Laotian American (she was born in Cali) senior at Storm Lake High School in Storm Lake, Iowa is waging a one-woman battle against demeaning tests that have emerged from No Child Left Behind and Iowa's dumb English-only law. This sister is FIERCE!!!!
Just because Lori mentioned that she speaks a language other than English at home, she is being forced to take a very basic English-proficiency exam in order to participate in senior privileges. Sister is 7th in her graduating class, has a 3.9 GPA, on the track team, and is in the National Honor Society. Wild guess, but I think she's got to be proficient in English by now, like so many of us 1.5 and 2nd generation kids. She is refusing to take the test, and has been suspended from school!
I recently did a research project on Asian American doctoral students and newly minted Ph.D's. Of the 114 folks I surveyed, over a third of the people who identified as 2nd generation (born in the U.S. to Asian immigrants/refugees) grew up speaking an Asian language, but being fully functional in English (DUH!). Should we subject those people to the test that Lori's being forced to take too? By the way, I'd have to take this dumb test too if that was the case.
For a detailed and incisive discussion of the situation, check out Professor Dennis Baron's blog. Some might say, "Hey Lori, just suck it up and pass the test like we know you can." Others in Iowa do support her, like I think we all should!
So... if you're down for supporting Lori in standing up against lame NCLB/English-only inspired tests, then I encourage you to email the following people:
Paul Tedesco, Storm Lake School District Superintendent: email@example.com
Principal Teresa Coenen: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Principal Beau Ruleaux email@example.com
The phone number over at Storm Lake High School is: (712) 732-8065
Just drop them a line about how you support Lori in her principled stand against policies that make NO SENSE, and maybe something about how speaking a non-English language at home shouldn't be discouraged especially when everything is so globalized.
But, please feel free to work that language out, since ... you know, I spoke Cantonese (crappy, 3rd grade level Canto... but still Canto!) at home with my parents.
Lori... stay strong! You rock sister!