LearnBoost welcomes Academia Semillas Del Pueblo
Academia Semillas del Pueblo Xinaxcalmecac (Spanish: Seeds of the People Academy) is a public charter school of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). It offers instruction in grades Kindergarten through eighth, and is located in the community of El Sereno, on the east side of Los Angeles. The school. which opened in 2002, was founded by Marcos Aguilar, a former teacher at Garfield Senior High School.
Academia Semillas del Pueblo offers an unusual multi-language curriculum aimed at the community's large population of recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Students are taught Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and the Aztec/Mexica Nahuatl language, as well as English. The curriculum emphasizes Pre-Columbian cultural traditions. The interior of the school has no walls separating classes, and multiple grades are taught the same material simultaneously. The school's official press release describes it as "dedicated to providing urban children of immigrant families an excellent education founded upon native and maternal languages, global values, and cultural realities." 
Beginning in 2006, the school became a focus of political controversy. Critics, spearheaded by Los Angeles radio host Doug McIntyre, accused the publicly-funded school of fostering an anti-American agenda of racial separatism.
Although chartered as a K-8 school, the Academia does not yet enroll any students enrolled beyond the 6th grade. As of 2006, the school reported that it enrolled 305 students, of which 267 are described as Hispanic or Latino. The remaining students are categorized as American Indian or Alaskan Native (12), White (11), Black/African-American (10), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (4) and Asian (1).
Like all California charter schools, administrators have autonomy determining the curriculum, though Academia is required to adhere to statewide standards. The interior of the school has no walls separating classes, and multiple grades are taught the same material simultaneously. This structure is intended to replicate Pre-Columbian educational institutions, and to validate and foster the indigenous identity of the students. Students are taught English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and the Aztec/Mexica Nahuatl language. Mathematics instruction is based on the Aztec ventigesimal (base-20) numeric system, using an Aztec abacus.
The small elementary school has become a focus of criticism, lawsuits and criminal charges, stemming from allegations that the school promotes an agenda of racial separatism.
In May 2006, KABC morning radio host Doug McIntyre announced that he had received an e-mail from a listener telling him that the school did not fly the flag of the United States on May 1, 2006, which led to his investigation of the school. McIntyre stated that he believed that the school was "racist" and had a "separatist agenda" attached to the "reconquista" movement, as well as having some of the lowest student-performance ratings in California. McIntyre and others expressed alarm at comments made by Aguilar in an interview with an online journal of UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access, where Aguilar was quoted as saying that "ultimately the white way, the American way, the neoliberal, capitalist way of life will eventually lead to our own destruction."
According to the court filing, McIntyre made a number of false statements, including: "His [Aguilar's] job is to keep his school, his madrasa school, open so they can train the next generation of Aztec revolutionaries. Again, I want to make sure that we emphasize this: This school should close."
The lawsuit also quotes McIntyre as allegedly saying: "Aztecs butchered and ate Spanish invaders. I wonder if they're teaching that at ASDP."
The school has characterized the criticism directed at it as "hate speech and a hate crime."  In April 2007, the school brought a lawsuit against McIntyre and KABC, charging McIntyre with slander and civil rights violations. The suit asserts that McIntyre created “racist fury against Latino school children, teachers, administrators and staff at the school” and "targeted the school for destruction because the children were Latino, the teachers were Latino, the principal director was Latino." McIntyre denied these charges on-air; KABC radio has made no official comment on the suit.
Both Academia and McIntyre claim to have received threats related to the controversy, including a bomb threat phoned into the school in early June. McIntyre has offered $1,000 as a reward for anyone offering information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever made the threat against the school.
The school has performed poorly on some standardized assessment tests, a fact that has fueled critics of the school's program. In 2005, Academia posted an Academic Performance Index of 577 out of 1000, down 20 points from its 2004 score, which was already very low when compared to other schools in the state. Supporters of the school point to the socioeconomic background of its students, most of whom come from the families of Mexican immigrants living in one of the poorest parts of Southern California, as a reason for the low score. However, even when compared to schools with similar socioeconomic conditions, the California Board of Education rates Academia a "1," the lowest score on a scale of 1 to 10.
District officials visited the school unannounced to investigate the allegations of discrimination that were receiving media attention. Speaking on behalf of the investigators, LAUSD attorney Kevin Reed said, "We looked specifically for any indications of any overt discriminatory practices on campus, such as statements on bulletin boards that expressed racial animus, were kids learning English, was math being taught consistent with California standards, and my understanding is they left satisfied that nothing of great concern was going on."
As of March 29, 2007 the school's charter was renewed for five years by the LAUSD board, by a vote of 5-2.
As a charter school, Academia is funded both by the State of California and from contributions from private organizations.
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