Oakland’s 8th Bilingual School Opens in the Coliseum District

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A new option for Oakland students seeking a bilingual education opened this week: Oakland School of Language (SOL) is a college offering a 50/50 immersion program to 75 sixth-graders.

Students include native English speakers, limited English speakers and emerging bilinguals. One of the ultimate goals of the program is to prepare students to give back to their community by addressing issues facing Oakland and the world at large, organizers told Hoodline.

Oakland SOL students, teachers and administrators. | Photo: MJ Carter/Hoodline

“This week here in the local community, we’re looking at what they can do here on this campus,” Principal Katherine Carter said. “They’re then going to use it to think about how they can address issues in Oakland that also have greater global significance.”

Kyla Johnson-Trammell, OUSD Superintendent | Photo: MJ Carter/Hoodline

The school is part of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) and is also affiliated with the International Studies School Network. With the opening of SOL, there are now eight bilingual schools in the district.

OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said Oakland’s diversity forces schools to try “different models” to “provide children with a quality education…where they see their culture.”

“I think the focus here isn’t 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 eventually become a secondary school. According to staff, students will strive to master the ABCS, defined as academics, bilingualism, cultural humility, and social-emotional skills.

Oakland Language School Logo | Photo: Oakland Unified School District

Science professor Fatimah Guienze Krause said the connection between education and students getting STEM jobs is particularly important in Silicon Valley, where employees show a “level of confidence” that propels them often forward.

Parent Che Abram has been part of the SOL design team for three and a half years and said she was proud to have helped create a bilingual school.

“I was very worried about where my son was going and what he was going to do with his tongue,” she said.

Two students who spoke at the press conference said they felt it was important to be part of the school’s top class.

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