Thursday Reads — Insubordination

The Sioux City Journal fronts a very interesting story about a Storm Lake High School student who is refusing to take a standardized test for English language learners, charging that it’s racist and demeaning. Lori Phanachone, whose parents are Laotian, is a member of the National Honor Society and has a 3.9 GPA. School officials say she’s no “Rosa Parks” and is insubordinate.

She’s been suspended and told that college scholarships are now in jeopardy unless she takes the test, which is generally given to Enlish language learners to test their proficiency. But Phanachone’s otherwise excellent academic performance is prompting some outside educators to question why she’s being given the test:

Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency-8 Title III consultant Kathy Brenny, who has an office in Storm Lake, explained that students are identified as English language learners or English as a Second Language students when they enroll. But she said, “If they are proficient, then we don’t have to give the test.”

Tom Green of the Northwest Area Education Agency in Sioux City said there is federal policy in place to determine who takes the test. Phanachone’s case “is an interesting question,” he said and suggested, “A kid with a 3.9 GPA shouldn’t be in an (English language learners) program.”

In Davenport, where 300 to 400 of the public school system’s 15,000 students are enrolled in English as a Second Language programs, Dawn Anderson-Rascher, director of assessment equity and record services, said that based on what she understood of the situation, Phanachone wouldn’t meet the criteria for taking the test.

 The Storm Lake Board of Education meets tonight to discuss the case.

So what other official decisions are sparking controversy?

Well, the Omaha World-Herald chroniclesthe story of a Marine marksman who fought in Fallujah but was turned down for a handgun permit in Omaha. Sgt. Tim Mechaley received counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder, which he honestly noted on his application. The application asked if he was being treated for a mental disorder. He answered yes, but now wonders whether that term actually applies to him.

A decision by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus to slice judicial system costs is causing a backlash, according to a story in The Gazette and Lee newspapers. Ternus ordered court offices across the state to be closed for seven days before the end of the fiscal year along with cuts in mileage and other expenses. In some cases, the cuts mean justice delayed for civil litigants and higher costs for the state public defender’s office.

Will IPERS ever get back the $339 million it invested with California investment managers now charged with fraud? Probably not, according to The Des Moines Register. Iowa officials are still determined to recover something. The loss represents about 2 percent of IPERS’ holdings.

And in a follow-up to the Cedar Rapids sales tax vote, The Gazette tells  how the vote yes side got a big assist from a half-dozen former Obama caucus campaign field organizers who came back to Iowa to help.


1 Comment

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One response to “Thursday Reads — Insubordination

  1. If insubordination means that a person possesses the courage of conviction to act on the grounds of her right to an equal education, then by all accounts, Lori is guilty. Remember that the progress of our society has only been won by the ‘insubordination’ of these determined individuals who risk public scrutiny to stand up for what they truly believe is just and equitable.

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