OAKLAND — Oakland school officials vowed Wednesday to continue fighting for bilingual education, despite a federal court ruling that supports its elimination from California public schools.

And they claimed that recently released Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exam scores prove bilingual education works.

Students who learned English and took the test exceeded national academic performance averages — and fared better on the 1998 state-mandated test than their English-only counterparts, said Oakland Unified School District spokeswoman Sue Piper.

“Bilingual education works,” Piper said. “What these test scores show is that kids who graduate from the programs perform very well. They perform above average.”

The STAR scores reflect only students who have graduated from bilingual education programs or are native English speakers, Piper said.

Results withheld

Results for students enrolled in bilingual education classes have been withheld since a June 25 court order barred release of the scores for non-English speaking students.

The order came days before STAR test results were released June 30. It was in response to legal efforts by Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco public school officials to block access to scores they claim are meaningless.

A ruling expected today in San Francisco Superior Court will determine whether future hearings on a permanent restraining order are in store.

But that’s only one bilingual education legal battle the Oakland public schools has waged.

School district lawyers are using every available legal option to ensure bilingual education stays in Oakland public schools, Piper said.

Attorneys will argue in court at the end of this week that the state Board of Education should hear waivers submitted by Oakland, Berkeley and Hayward school districts. The waivers would allow those districts to continue teaching non-native speakers in their native languages, she said, noting the state education board had refused to hear them.

Another option

Another possible legal option for saving classes that serve 18,000 bilingual students — about a third of the 53,000 students in the Oakland district — is to have parents seek waivers independently, she said.

“We’ll see what happens legally down the road,” Piper concluded.

“There are options under Proposition 227 and we are pursuing all of them. This ruling is a bump in the road, but it’s not the end of it. There are other avenues, and we are pursuing them.”

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