Are they for real?
Apparently so. A quick look at the front page of the school's website sets of the first warning bell:
Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter School is a kindergarten through eighth grade public school dedicated to providing urban children of immigrant native families an excellent education founded upon their own language, cultural values and global realities.
Just what is an immigrant native family? It sounds a bit oxymoronic to me. Reading on:
Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter School cultivates the gifts and talents of all its students through multiple language education, differentiated curriculum and instruction, and culturally enriched visual and performing arts.
Glad to see that this charter school is doing what our public schools can't. Of course, that is the beauty of a charter school, isn't it? As the product of just one such school, I can tell you that the education I received was excellent.
Their test scores are below standards, but so are the reast of the state's, and Acedemia Semillas del Pueblo has improve at a drastically higher rate than the state (26% vs 9%), so they must be doing something right.
But back to the donors/supporters for this school...
Among the school's supporters are the National Council of La Raza Charter School Development Initiative; Raza Development Fund, Inc.; and the Pasadena City College chapter of MeCHA, or Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.
These organizations are somewhat controversial, with alleged goals that include returning the US Southwest to Mexico.
It is nothing new to have a charter school which is limited to a particular race, sex, special need. Same sex schools have had a pretty good track record, both for boys and for girls. There are several charter schools around the country which cater primarily to African American children-- especially those in the inner city. Andre Agassi Prep is one right here in the valley.
What I do find somewhat troubling is that the backers for this particular school have sketchy credentials. What if the JDL started a charter school? You can bet that the ACLU would be all over that!
But the real problem, IMHO? The principal. Check this out:
"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," he said.
The issue of civil rights, Aguilar continued, "is all within the box of white culture and white supremacy. We should not still be fighting for what they have. We are not interested in what they have because we have so much more and because the world is so much larger."
Ultimately, he said, the "white way, the American way, the neo liberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction. And so it isn't about an argument of joining neo liberalism, it's about us being able, as human beings, to surpass the barrier."
Aguilar said his school is not a response to problems in the public school system, as it's available only to about 150 families.
"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," he said. "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."
THIS is the man responsible for molding young Latino Americans.