APAP Calendar


Interested in sharing your opinions about progressive politics? Want to highlight the great work of local community groups and individuals? Then join our blog team. Send us an email and we can sign you up. apafp AT apaforprogress DOT org.

Lori Phanachone: Fierce Asian American Sister!

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!!!!

Lori Phanachone - FIERCE Asian American Sister!

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 blogSome 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: ptedesco@slcsd.org

Principal Teresa Coenen: tcoenen@storm-lake.k12.ia.us

Assistant Principal Beau Ruleaux bruleaux@slcsd.org

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!

Your rating: None Average: 5 (3 votes)

wait-a-minute (not verified) on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 16:23
dude, this is totally twisted. thanks for letting us know about this young activist. good luck, lori! keep fighting!
kelvin (not verified) on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 17:49
i would love to fly into iowa just to meet this strong young sister. stand by her, shout with her, ANYTHING to support her. for now i'll have to be content with sending e-mails. STAY STRONG LORI
On Track to an MBA (not verified) on Tue, 03/17/2009 - 18:13
Thanks for your support! I will keep you guys posted on our progress..which we are making....fo sho It ain't over yet!
someguy (not verified) on Sat, 03/21/2009 - 03:46
I'm not sure contacting school officials would do much good. Might be a better strategy to contact government officials: State representative for the storm lake area: http://www.house.gov/steveking/email.shtm Governor of Iowa: http://www.governor.iowa.gov/administration/contact/ Also consider making an "i report" on CNN. They often run those on their main page and it will spread the story. This is truly one of the most outrageous stories I've heard. That a bright student's education and scholarships would be threatened over an English test? People need to exercise some common sense for crying out loud! We should be bending over backward to accommodate these type of (high achieving, multi-cultural) students, not penalizing them. Sheesh!
someguy (not verified) on Sat, 03/21/2009 - 07:14
Er, nevermind, I see now that Steve King really is not the go-to guy on that. Maybe the sate Senators? ACLU?
spamfriedrice (not verified) on Sat, 03/21/2009 - 13:00
@someguy: I think you're right. Obviously the test didn't come from the superintendent or principal of the school. But in a campaign to repeal the test at the statewide level with their state legislature and governor, it would be nice if she has the support of the school and district. but you're right, going right up to the statewide level is the ideal target.
Education=Indoctrination, Storm Lake Iowa Style « Irresponsi (not verified) on Sun, 03/22/2009 - 10:34
[...] are contact details for the nasty bunch here (including the arsehole assistant principle who told her she is “no Rosa Parks”). Email [...]
zooeyibz (not verified) on Sun, 03/22/2009 - 10:37
What villains. I've linked to your post on my blog, Irresponsibility. I hope Lori takes these bastards down.
norah (not verified) on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 07:25
I wrote to the financial aid departments of both universities, as well as providing the legal citations to the principal and superintendent (Mr. Hanna's email bounces.) I think it highly unlikely that the school can actually follow through on their threats to harm this brave young woman by taking away scholarships they do not award or have control over. I've asked the financial aid offices to assure Ms. Phanachone and tell administrators that the school can't use THEIR scholarships as leverage in this.
Dude (not verified) on Sat, 06/27/2009 - 08:35

You have no idea of this town's weirdness. Rep. Steve King is anti-immigration(-immigrant) and was elected on English-ONLY platform.  Superintendent has a reputation of shutting down discussion, even blackmail - his word is the last and he likes it that way.

Granted, the district is in a tough position, trying to teach kids who come into the schools in 8th grade not speaking English, yet having to test them in English -- and are accountable for it.  Like most schools, they want to do a good job teaching academics, but when kids can't read the test, and worse, don't even read, don't know the alphabet, it's hard to get NCLB results.

I read today that Lori and the district have come to an agreement of sorts, but it's hard finding details. Anybody hear anything that way?  It would be nice if we had a way to lift up Lori Phanachone.

Angel (not verified) on Fri, 09/04/2009 - 19:28



First of all shut the fuck up about shit you know nothing about.

You don't go to SLHS. You don't know what happened and you don't know how it all played out.

Your "sister" ended up graduating without taking the test. That's nice, except now this year the students who speak English just like Lori are still being fucked up the ass with the bullshit ELDA testing

Just because someone doesn't have "perfect" grades like she does, and are not in the national honor society program, doesn't mean they don't speak proper English.

The rules even say if you pass it once, you don't need to take it again. She even openly admitted to bullshitting the test. If you ask me, it's her own fault.

She only got off without taking it because she was making the school look bad.

Now it's unfair to everyone else who still has to take it this year.

So shut your fucking mouth and get your facts straight.

spamfriedrice on Sat, 09/05/2009 - 14:27

ok, Angel... Are you doing anything to get rid of the bullshit ELDA test?  Seems to me that we can all agree that it's bullshit.  Let us know if you're all organizing something beyond the one Lori Phanachone case to get rid of this test, and you'll have a ton of people supportive of the efforts.  I hope to hear good news of community organizing to get rid of unfair tests like the ELDA soon!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options