Northwest Asian Weekly
Lori Phanachone is a bright student. She maintains a 3.9 grade point average, is a member of the National Honor Society, and ranks seventh out of 119 seniors at Storm Lake High School in Storm Lake, Iowa.
Just weeks ago, school officials claims that she is illiterate since she refuses to complete the English Language Development Assessment, a test she claims is racist and demeaning. She took it as a sophomore, finishing several hours ahead of her classmates in protest. For that, she faced confinement for three hours before being excused.
The 155-question test normally takes four hours to finish.
She completed her third day of suspension on Mar. 4 for insubordination by refusing to take the exam. She faced more days off because of another suspension involving a second refusal of taking the exam.
“Mr. Ruleaux (the assistant principal) told me I was ‘no Rosa Parks’ – that I should give up because I would not succeed in my protest,” Phanachone said.
For her defiance, school officials say that she faces losing her $86,000 scholarships from Buena Vista University and even more from Iowa State University.
“She has every right to protest taking the test, because in Storm Lake, race isn’t an issue. And that test singles out race. The only reason she didn’t write English down as her first language was that she is proud of her Lao heritage,” said classmate Stephanie Emery.
At this time, Phanachone said she is confused and stressed. ♦