Do you speak English?
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.
Lori has been suspended. Her scholarships are threatened. She has been counseled to just lie about her first language, which she rightfully has refused to do. In spite of this glaring injustice, one of the first commenters to the original article had the audacity to write this:
If you are going to fight for injustice in this world then at least make it a fight for a worthwhile cause.How someone could miss such an obvious wrong is mind-boggling. I take from this comment to mean that this person either believes believes racism no longer exists, or that fighting it isn't a worthy cause. Makes no difference: whether they stem from deeply-engrained beliefs or post-election nonsense, they're both dangerous. Lori's situation provides a frightening example why.
I can look within my own family for proof. My husband's first language isn't English. In college, where we met, he was required on college forms to identify his first language, and he answered honestly. No one ever required him to prove his English proficiency.
He is white, however, and his first language is German, a European language. With the same language proficiency but a different face, I have no doubt that he could have experienced what Lori Phanachone is experiencing now.
Shame on Storm Lake High School and the Storm Lake Board of Education.
Edited to add Storm Lake contacts posted by Angry Asian Man, with a call to support Lori and my thanks. Contact these folks to share your outrage and show your support for Lori.
Paul Tedesco - Storm Lake School District Superintendent
Mike Hanna - Principal
Beau Ruleaux - Assistant Principal
Storm Lake High School phone number : (712) 732-8065
Here's the letter I just sent:
As the parent of two children from Korea, the husband of a man who
learned English as his second language, and a former teacher of German and
English as a Second Language, I am writing to express my dismay over your
school's actions regarding Ms. Lori Phanachone's refusal to take an English
Because my personal experience touches on both of the areas that are
driving this controversy - language acquisition and race - I feel compelled to
speak out on behalf of Ms. Phanachone's decision to reject your school's demand
that she take this clearly unnecessary test.
What appears to have happened is that Ms. Phanachone's laudable decision to
recognize her heritage by accurately stating that her first language was other
than English has triggered an arcane policy that flies in the face of
reality. This young woman was born in the U.S. and educated in American
schools. To question that reality, regardless of the fact that she first
spoke another language in her home, is racism, pure and simple.
Do the right thing. Reinstate Ms. Phanachone, expunge this incident
from her record, and work to change your policies to prevent similar events in