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Lori Phanachone is a member of the National Honor Society, has a 3.9 grade point average and ranks seventh in the senior class of about 119 at Storm Lake High School.

But school officials have told her she is considered to be illiterate based on her refusal to satisfactorily complete the English Language Development Assessment, a test she says is demeaning and racist.

On Wednesday, Phanachone finished serving three days of in-school suspension for what school administrators say is insubordination. She faces another three days for continuing her silent protest with a second refusal to take the test. According to a written statement presented to her Wednesday, Phanachone said, she could be suspended again and then expelled for a fourth refusal.

"Mr. Ruleaux (assistant principal Beau Ruleaux) told me I was 'no Rosa Parks' -- that I should give up because I would not succeed in my protest," Phanachone said.

Phanachone's scholarships are in danger due to this suspension. The whole thing arose because she did not mark English as her first language out of respect for her family and her culture, which seems like such a petty thing to many, but this speaks millions to the power of the statistics box to reduce an individual to a category and a set of legal rules to which s/he does not really fit in. Also, what's this bullshit about Mr. Ruleaux saying that Phanachone is "no Rosa Parks"? What is he saying, that people of this generation no longer deserve to be proactive protesters? That we have it "easier"?

Update: Check out our new writer Kevin Zhai's post about this very same issue.


  1. On Track to an MBA said...

    We are going to take Lori's case and make it BIG and generate some waves of change! Watch us slap the Iowa school district with some rhetoric of our own! It's ironic that a student deemed 'insubordinate' and 'illiterate' is the only one with the courage to challenge what is being asked of her in the classroom. I hope we can count on your support!  


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