archive

Thursday, June 1, 2006

La Academia Semillas del Pueblo

La Academia Semillas de Pueblo – The Seeds of the People Academy – is a charter school (a publicly funded private school) of the Los Angeles Unified School District. It caters to about 150 families in the East LA neighborhood of El Serino.

Of the 463 elementary schools listed for LAUSD, it ties for 458th place in API (Academic Performance Index) scores. It ranks in the worst-performing catagory both state-wide and for "similar" schools. In its Senate District, for all schools (including special ed, continuation, etc,) it ranked 34th out of 36 for API scores – the bottom 10% - some 70 points lower than the mean for Latino/Hispanic students in the state.

It is the only school with a 100% URM student body. What is a URM, you naively ask? Why, it’s a sociology term, for underrepresented minority. “What did you learn in school today, Juanito?” “I learned that I and absolutely everyone else without any exception whatsoever including every single one of the teachers at my school are an underrepresented minority.” Your tax dollars at work.

The principal of this mandatorily Mexican charter school is Marcos Aguilar, age 28. Shall we learn something about this young man? Let’s hear what he has to say.

So please tell our interested readers, Principal Aguilar, what is the great lesson of your childhood?

“We grew up with the knowledge that in Arizona, in Yuma, Arizona, everything was Black and White. The dogs and Mexicans drank from one spot and the White people drank from the other one. I think growing up amongst Mexicans, you get values and manners at home. One of my grandmothers raised me and taught me those values.”

Hm. Interesting. What do you think of teachers in general?

“We basically have a situation where outsiders are teaching a community’s children, with no regard to the community itself, with no regard for the ultimate outcome of their actions with the children, with no regard for anything past that one year that they are with them. Teachers step into this role fully expecting a three-month vacation or expecting tons of extra pay when they are off. They fully expect to be separate from the students so they want to commute to get to the inner city.”

Sounds fair-minded to me. I expect that when I spent a decade teaching in East LA, that was my attitude. I mean, didn’t Principal Aguilar just tell me it was? And would he lie about my attitude?

What is the overall purpose of your school, Principal Aguilar?

(The “general policy of the Los Angeles Unified School District is, in fact, to Americanize Mexican and African-American children in Los Angeles. And they would argue that that's good. I believe that that's not good.”) “We consider this a resistance, a starting point, like a fire in a continuous struggle for our cultural life, for our community and we hope it can influence future struggle. We hope that it can organize present struggle and that as we organize ourselves and our educational and cultural autonomy, we have the time to establish a foundation with which to continue working and impact the larger system.”

What do you think of desegregated schools, then, in the ‘larger system’?

“We don’t necessarily want to go to White schools. … We don’t want to drink from a White water fountain, we have our own wells and our natural reservoirs and our way of collecting rain in our aqueducts. We don’t need a White water fountain. So the whole issue of segregation and the whole issue of the Civil Rights Movement is all within the box of White culture and White supremacy. … We are not interested in what they have because we have so much more and because the world is so much larger. And ultimately the White way, the American way, the neo liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction.”

And what’s a really important thing you do, at your school, Principal Aguilar?

“[By giving children] a good foundation of culture they will be able to understand other people’s cultures and other people’s points of view much better. One of the ways we do that is teaching them several languages. That has to be the most important element of our education. It’s not only learning reading, writing, and English, but being able to analyze the world in several languages.”

Ah, yes, teaching students Nahuatl, the dead tongue of the Aztecs, must somehow be a very useful addendum to being fluent in Spanish and having rudimentary skills in English. After all, education, like economics, is all about allocating scarce resources, no? And what better use of classroom time could there be, than learning this specific obscure race-language?

In so doing, Principal Aguilar asserts, children “will be able to understand their relationship with nature. They will be able to understand our own ancestral culture and our customs and traditions that are so imbued in the language. …We teach our children how to operate a base 20 mathematical system and how to understand the relationship between the founders and their bodies, what the effects of astronomical forces and natural forces on the human body and the human psyche, our way of thinking and our way of expressing ourselves."

So would you classify this more as alchemy or as simple paganism? And what are your thoughts on word-magic?

“When we teach Nahuatl, the children are gaining a sense of identity that is so deep, it goes beyond whether or not they can learn a certain number of vocabulary words in Nahuatl.”

There’s a vocabulary word Principal Aguilar may benefit in learning. It is an English word, but the concept seems integral to his philosophy, and he may wish to consider some of it’s more salient meanings. Principal Aguilar’s word for the day is “racist.”

Any closing thoughts, Principal Aguilar?

“The United States is who is the immigrant here, not us.”

_____

The school's website claims: "While most of Academia's students are Latino, Academia also enrolls African-American, Asian-American, White and Native American students." This is inconsistent with the as yet unexpurgated statement that the school is "dedicated to providing urban children of immigrant families an excellent education founded upon native and maternal languages, cultural values, and global realities." [emphasis added] The statement is also inconsistent with the objective published data - 100% URM. A survey of website photos reveals no child who gives evidence of any but the expected ethnic appearance.

The website states, “A recent evaluation of Academia, conducted by external East-coast evaluation specialists reported that, ‘At Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter School, 79% of the total number of Components across all Building Blocks were rated as meeting or exceeding expectations. This represents an exceptional accomplishment.’”

First, the affiliation and credentials of the “evaluation specialists” are not given. There is no mention of their being independent or objective. Are they, perchance, “East-coast” agents of MEChA? Second, the feat of meeting only 79% of exceedingly substandard expectations is indeed “an exceptional accomplishment,” but not a positive one. These “expectations,” you understand, are based on past, wretchedly poor performance – 458th place, as you recall - that's the 1.5th percentile.

But the school administration gets points for creative spin, if not for educating children.

_____

The racist organization La Raza is listed as a sponsor on the school's "Donors and Supporters" page. References to the racist organization MEChA have reportedly been removed from its website.

_____

Nahuatl is used in California prisons by Nuestra Familia (NF) gangsters as a secret form of communication.

_____

Yesterday morning, KABC radio reporter Sandy Wells went by appointment to interview Principal Aguilar. He was first told that Aguilar was out, then that he did not wish to be interviewed. As Wells went to his car, a van jumped the sidewalk and chased him. The driver then jumped out, tackled the reporter, beat him up and stole the tape. A second vehicle pursued Mr. Wells through the city on his way back to the station – finally lost by his maneuvering through traffic.

An unconfirmed report states that an attorney in the school’s office overheard Principal Aguilar on the phone, instructing some neighborhood agent to take care of Mr. Wells. The matter is being investigated by the LAPD, and KABC.

_____

Marcos Aguilar was not born in the United States. If he is a legal resident, one wonders if the concept of “undesirable alien” is still valid and in play. If he is a naturalized citizen, one wonders, first, why he would have sworn allegience to a country he manifestly holds in contempt, and second, if such naturalization can be revoked on the basis of fraud:

The Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Of course, the possibility is very real that Marcos Aguilar is not in this country legally. In which case he can stay.

_____

Update here and here.

_____

Those poor children.



J

No comments: