A new option for Oakland students seeking a bilingual education opened this week: Oakland School of Language (SOL) is a middle school that provides a 50/50 immersion program for 75 sixth-grade students.
Students include native English speakers, those with limited English, and emerging bilingual speakers. One of the program’s ultimate goals is to prepare students to give back to their community by tackling issues that face Oakland and the world at large, organizers told Hoodline.
“This week here in the local community, we are looking at what they can do here on this campus,” said principal Katherine Carter. “They are then going to use that to think about how they can address issues in Oakland that also have a larger global significance.”
The school is part of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and is also is affiliated with The International Studies School Network. With SOL open, there are now eight bilingual schools in the district.
OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said Oakland’s diversity requires schools to try “different models” to “provide kids a quality education… where they see their culture.”
“I think the goal here is not necessarily any different than anywhere else in the city,” she said.
Plans call for SOL to teach 450 students in grades six through eight; if the model is successful, it may ultimately become a high school. According to staff, students will work towards proficiency in the “ABCS,” defined as Academics, Bilingualism, Cultural Humility, and Social Emotional Skills.
Science teacher Fatimah Guienze Krause said the connection between education and students getting STEM jobs is particularly important in Silicon Valley, where employees exhibit “a level of confidence” that often propels them forward.
Parent Che Abram has been on SOL's design team for three and a half years and said she’s proud to have helped bring about a dual-language school.
“I was very concerned about where my son was going to go and what he was going to do with his language,” she said.
Two students who spoke at the press conference said that they felt important just being a part of the school's first class.