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Immersion decisions a concern

I am writing this because I am concerned about the Lake Oswego School Board's decisions about language immersion programs in the Lake Oswego schools.

We moved to Oregon in 1965 with four small children. When we came to the area we spent time searching for a home. Concerned about good education and learning that the Lake Oswego school system was considered the best in the area, we bought our home on Glen Eagles road. We paid about 20 percent more than if we had bought a house elsewhere, but education was important to us.

All four children went to Uplands, Lake Oswego Junior High and Lake Oswego High schools, receiving excellent educations, going on to Brown University, Boston University, College of the Pacific and OHSU School of Nursing.

I have interviewed students for college admission and worked with Brown admissions officers for many years. I know their respect for L.O.H.S. and how that influences their decisions. It would be unfortunate if that advantage were lost to our graduates.

My concern is that the Lake Oswego schools could be losing their reputation as the best in the state. Other nearby school systems are now offering immersion programs, while we dither and delay. First 'we don't have the time,' then 'we don't have the funds.' These are excuses. As a businessman, I know that you make time to do important things. No excuses! After vacillating, the school board has now approved a Spanish immersion program. They found the time and money to do that. A good decision.

I don't understand, however, of not approving the Chinese program as well. I understand that China has created a program worldwide to help teach Mandarin. The program will supply and pay for a qualified teacher, contribute up to $10,000 to start the program, supply the books required and supply the curriculum. In effect, (it would) contribute almost $100,000.

I understand that school systems around the country are benefiting from the program and they are assured that there is no propaganda involved.

I have read in the Review that there are parents who are considering moving their children to other school systems to enable them to attain this language training. If this happens, Lake Oswego schools will lose state revenue ($6,500 per student), and the high reputation it has had over the years. This could adversely affect students' acceptance to colleges of their choice, income from the state and house values in our city.

On the other hand, if we have the programs, they would attract transfers into the system, increasing state support and maintain real estate values.

Lake Oswego could add Mandarin immersion at little or no cost. Why delay, fall behind other school systems and penalize our children? Add Chinese immersion to next fall's program. General Mills had a slogan at one time that applies: 'Eventually, why not now?'

Martin L. Jacobs is a resident of Lake Oswego.




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