Iowa school district revises fluency list

Lori Phanachone is fluent in both spoken and written English. However, in March, Storm Lake High School in Iowa mandated that she take an English fluency exam because English was not the first language spoken in her home. “School officials told [Lori that] she [was] considered to be illiterate based on her refusal to satisfactorily complete the English Language Development Assessment.” The assumption by the school was that Phanachone, born in California, was not fluent in English because it is her second language. It’s an extremely racist assumption.

An honors student, Phanachone was suspended from school after refusing to take the test. According to Phanachone, “administrators… told her her college scholarships — $86,000 at Buena Vista University and more at Iowa State University, would disappear” if she didn’t take the test.

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Tech people

I was recently at a higher education conference for academic advisors where every time the campus tech support office personnel were referenced, they were called “tech guys.”

For example: “Our tech guys are going to be configuring our database.”

I was asked to be on a technology panel on academic advising and Web 2.0 technologies. During what was probably a long-winded answer to an audience question, I decided to point out that our campuses have “tech people” or “tech folks” on staff in our IT offices. I said something about the fact that tech guys is such a sexist phrase as it makes women invisible and centralizes men as being technology experts.

On a related note, Jason Kottke has been keeping track of the gender diversity at some of the most well known and attended web conferences… WebVisions, a web conference in Portland, Oregon seems to contain a bit more gender variation than some of the conferences that Kottke references, but not by a lot. Of 38 total speakers, only 8 are women.

Exclusion through language

letter from Ron Wyden senator from Oregon

A couple months ago Brownfemipower posted about the Inhofe Amendment. The amendment was contained within the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, S. 1348. (Note: S. 1639 has a similar English language amendment) This amendment would have amended title 4 of the United States Code to “declare English as the national language of the Government of the United States, and for other purposes.”

I was upset to read that Ron Wyden (D) from Oregon had supported the Inhofe Amendment. I quickly wrote Senator Wyden and I received a response this week:

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