The Web of Language

blog navigation

Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

blog posts

  • Iowa, "the English-only State," suspends student for refusing English proficiency test

Comments

horner.bruce@gmail.com Mar 7, 2009 11:34 am

Steve King once stated in a public forum on language policies that he was shocked to hear that some of us doubted kings and emperors didn't always have our best interests at heart.  The story of this high school student shows that often "kings" don't.  Iowa should redeem itself by putting King out of his current job trying to tell Iowans what's best for them, against their better judgment.

Reply to horner.bruce@gmail.com at 11:34 am
david.grant@uni.edu Mar 9, 2009 2:03 pm

Sadly, King "represents" (and I use that term loosely) the westernmost third of the state. None of the three public universities are located there, one of the two urban centers is across from Omaha and has a secondary status as a result, and the demographics are aging fast as young people move to urban areas where the jobs are. It is not representative of Iowa, where we have a diverse working-class population in the manufacturing centers like Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, and Davenport; strong African-American and Bosnian populations in Waterloo; and a still -vibrant agrarian populism in Decorah, Fairfield, and Iowa City. But, yes, as I am sure Brice knows from his time in Des Moines, the western third can swing the policies of the whole state quite unfairly!

Reply to david.grant@uni.edu at 2:03 pm
notify@kallistipress.com Mar 18, 2009 4:27 pm

The IELDA's "Who Should Be Assessed" document (to which your link seems broken, btw) also has this:

Exit.  When the student satisfies the district’s EXIT criteria, the student is no longer considered ELL and is not counted as ELL on the BEDS.  The student is considered as EXITED from programs and services and does not receive English/second language acquisition support.  The state, through project EASIER, still “monitors” the student for AYP purposes for two more years. 

If Phanachone is actually exited, which I haven't seen reported one way or the other, then it may be that the school is administering the test for AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress).  In other words, the test might be being used to show that the school has actually done its job.

So there are two possibilities:
a) Phanachone has not been exited, but has met the requirements for exit, in which case there's some paperwork to be filled out, and that's it.  If this is the case, I would suspect the school would have completed that paperwork the moment this story hit the internet, so I find this unlikely.
b) Alternately, it's quite possible that the school isn't even calling into question Phanachone's fluency, but is trying to show that they've done right by her.  Even so, suspension and threats of expulsion are just silly for her non-compliance.

I strongly suspect these people just need to sit down and talk to each other.

Reply to notify@kallistipress.com at 4:27 pm