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Bilingual education strikes a nerve. I’m getting lots of interesting e-mails and phone calls about the dual language immersion program that is planned for Sherman Elementary School. The bilingual program and the ensuing controversy seems to have played a part in the recent reassignment of the school’s original principal, Edward Caballero, from Sherman Elementary to Jerabek Elementary in Scripps Ranch.

Retired teacher Mona Ohlin echoed school board member Luis Acle’s idea that while bilingual education can work, it doesn’t work in communities like Sherman.

“The trouble with dual immersion is there’s hardly enough time to cover all the subjects in one language, let alone two languages,” said Ohlin, who taught at Sherman Elementary before it closed. The school was rebuilt and is reopening this fall. “I highly believe in supplemental Spanish during the school day or after hours. But dual immersion is more appropriate at a more English-speaking school.”

Ohlin also countered the idea that Sherman parents are predominantly in favor of the bilingual program. No Sherman parents spoke against the program at the school board last Friday, and dozens have sent letters arguing for the preservation of the program and keeping Caballero as its helm.

“The parents I’ve talked to [in Sherman] are mystified. … Most are not in favor of dual immersion or bilingual programs,” Ohlin said. “They were really not consulted.”

Whether or not the bilingual supporters are the majority at Sherman, they’re starting to organize: There’s a Thursday night meeting planned in Sherman Heights to form a coalition against transferring Caballero.

EMILY ALPERT

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