Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Student refuses to take 'demeaning' test

Source: KTIV

A Siouxland student says she wants answers from the federal and state government.

That's after the "No child left behind" law has made it mandatory for students who pick English as their second language to take an English language proficiency test.

But she refuses to take it saying it's discriminatory.

"This is a cause and it's not only for me, it's for everyone else out there who does speak a second language and does not want to get hurt," said Lori Phanachone a senior at Storm Lake High School.

Aiya! Most people can speak a 2nd language. But when the 2nd language is English, the education system has to do a review. Doesn't matter if your GPA is 4.0. Everything is computerized and nobody has time to study case by case. If you mark ESL, you're taking a test.

Lori Phanachone is proud of her Laotian heritage.

"I'm not going to deny my heritage, I'm not going to disrespect my mother," said Phanachone.

Because the 18 year old senior checked English as her second language, she's been put into a category where the government says she'll have to take a test to determine her English speaking and comprehension abilities.

"Testing of the students is federally mandated and what to use is state mandated," said Superintendent Dr. Paul Tedesco.

We're all proud of our Asian heritage. Doesn't mean we put a check mark beside ESL and put Laotian as our first language to prove our pride! Having English as your first language doesn't disrespect your mom! These two things have nothing to do with each other. I don't care where you come from, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America. If you are born in the US, your first language is English. End of discussion.

But Phanachone says the test is demeaning and she has refused to take it.

"For the federal government to throw that in my face, and say hey you have to prove yourself. I've proved myself my whole entire life, it's not right," said Phanachone.

She's got a 3.9 grade point average. Since the district considers her refusal to be insubordinate, they have punished her by asking her to leave school last Friday, missing activities and in-school suspension for three days this week.

The reason this girl has been fighting her whole life is because she keeps checking the wrong box.

For me it's easy. First language: English. Second language: French
If there's another option then I'll fill it in. It doesn't make me disrespectful or any of that BS. I speak my mother-tongue at home and to my friends and family. But on legal documents, English is the primary language!

Here's a personal non-racial example. I'm a University graduate.

If I go to staffing agencies, they know from my resume that I am a University graduate. What's the first thing they make me do? Spelling test, grammar test, typing test, keying test etc etc.. What am I going to say?

"I'm a fucking university graduate and these tests are degrading"?
I can't say that. In life you always have to take tests to prove yourself.


Heather said...

Frankly, I think all school-age children should be taking proficiency tests. Fluency in a first language does not preclude functional illiteracy...I'd guess that there are students in her class who are born and bred Anglophones who would have difficulty with a TOEFL test.

Degenerasian said...


If she continues this cause further, the school may decide that it is unfair to her and that EVERYONE have to take this test. Then everyone will be pissed off at her!

Russ Nelson said...

One of the reasons that so many jobs in the US require a college degree is because functional tests were ruled to be discriminatory. After all, if black people don't know how to type, and white people do, you could be discriminating by giving secretaries a typing test. So you don't -- you just require a college degree.