FOUR SEEDS, ONE ETERNAL FLOWER
CUATRO SEMILLAS, UNA FLOR ETERNA
Anahuacalmecac is dedicated to ensuring that students become self-motivated, competent, lifelong learners by making education purposeful, social and transformative to both the individual learner and one’s community.
Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America (“Anahuacalmacac”) has established the only comprehensive public school system in the City of Los Angeles that serves the intellectual and cultural needs of Indigenous children. Founded and operated by Indigenous educators, mostly of Indigenous Peoples from Mexico, Anahuacalmecac provides a unique educational alternative for Native parents in the greater Los Angeles area, a region that boasts the highest density of Indigenous Peoples in the United States. Anahuacalmecac was founded and is operated by Semillas Sociedad Civil as a programmatic continuity of the original charter established in 2002 known as Xinaxcalmecac Academia Semillas del Pueblo. Since 2002, Semillas Sociedad Civil has continued to refine its global reach, academic programs, cultural programs, and expertise in curricular and professional development.
In Anahuacalmecac we call decolonization, ISALOLISTLE - to awaken or open our eyes.
Imagine, when we were born some of us had already been colonized in utero through our parents.
They passed that on to us. They fed that to us. At times they even abused us.
For others of us, the womb was bliss.
We were free since the time of conception from violence, drugs, insecurities, and exploitation.
Regardless of our personal origins, we can all decolonize, every day. Personally.
Yet, decolonization is not really a personal act. It is not a choice, not a lifestyle, not a philosophy, not a change of attitude, it is not semantic.
Decolonization is the persistent and organized dismantling of the foundations of the structures of power which enable settler states to claim political, economic and military power over Indigenous Peoples.
Decolonization is by nature intergenerational, international and interpersonal.
Decolonization is permacultural and counterhegemonic.
We must both persist AND resist, together. Every day.
In Anahuacalmecac we call this SOBRESISTENCIA - survival, endurance, survivance and resistance. To us, it is important to decolonize “decolonization” or ISALOLISTLE, so that become more clear about what we are naming, describing and envisioning for our selves in reference to ourselves as Indigenous Peoples. We can only do this in our own languages, in our own visions, in our own ways.
Local Realities of Inequity, Educational Disadvantage
On being Indigenous (2004): Maria Transito, Educadora Indigena, Copalillo, Guerrero, Mexico
The educational disadvantages present when we first opened under the trees of El Sereno Park, persist in ways, some believe, too deeply rooted to overcome through a single program, policy or even a systematic federal civil rights investigation. We recall that in 2011, the Office of Civil Rights of the U. S. Department of Education memorialized the systemic educational discrimination prevalent for “English Learners” in the LAUSD. Given that almost 500,000 students identified as “Latinos” (about 75% of all LAUSD students), and over 150,000 are Spanish speakers classified as “English Learners” (or 93% of all “English Learners). Clearly, the moniker of “English Learners” is a euphemism for the District’s massive Latino student population overall. This is important because the main concern of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigation was the so-called ‘achievement gap’ between Whites and targeted minorities. Yet, clearly omitted from the investigation was the real educational discrimination reflected by multigenerational levels of institutional failure which have created a school-to-prison pipeline for Los Angeles youth in general, and for Mexican youth in particular.
Performance on high-stakes tests should be understood within the current context of hate directed at our students’ families and communities by the federal government’s discourse against immigrants and Indigenous Peoples. Across California, the impacts of deculturalization of indigenous and other non-dominant culture students, poverty and other systemic social factors of inequity faced by these students have increased. Since NCLB and even through the current implementation of Smarter Balanced in California, performance targets have been arbitrarily set which fail a majority of students, and the resulting disengagement, frustration, anger, stress, and feelings of despair from “learned hopelessness” remains unresolved and unaddressed. To quote noted education researcher Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, “Is it fair or just for millions of students of color to fail an unfair state-mandated test, despite working hard in the classroom, and this failure be blamed on a lack of grit rather than the real issue—the structure and scoring of unreliable and un-validated tests?" Others have acted upon these concerns as well. In fact, a recent lawsuit filed against the State of California notes that, “When it comes to literacy and basic education, California is bringing down the nation.” The legal complaint also asserts that, “the State continues to allow children from disadvantaged communities to attend schools that are unable to provide them an opportunity to obtain basic literacy.” According to the Nation’s Report Card, California ranks in the bottom half of the nation in Mathematics, Reading, Science and Writing.
The greatest disadvantages are both ubiquitous and invisible. As the largest population of Indigenous students, Mexican origin students and other Latin American origin indigenous students do not have access to the four highlighted universally accepted minimum standard of educational quality in California public schools. Not only do CAASPP results demonstrate a consistent lack of access to the state’s compulsory schooling model of education, but autonomous mechanisms to close this gap are non-existent. Recalling Anahuacalmecac’s own experience with racial and anti-Mexican animosity since 2006 and the animus reflected within the charter renewal process at both LAUSD and LACOE, there is absolutely no accountability for these failures to recognize the rights on Indigenous parents and students as communities to self-determination in education in the State of California. Anahuacalmecac’s survival as a small, community-based Indigenous Peoples-initiated charter school is example mostly of the government’s tolerance for our existence and not its recognition of our collective right to persist. Even under the charter school model, student performance outcomes must all be reflected in a binary fashion privileging the state’s requirements over autochthonous community held priorities in education such as native language, cultural competency and an ecological sense of self-determination among our youth. If the impact of government schooling in among American Indians has led to a constant state of entropy, Anahuacalmecac seeks to lead towards a state of negentropy through an education which applies the positive aspects of schooling and replaces the negatives with community-based education creating syntropy instead of deculturalizaton.
Deculturalization in government schooling is the norm in 2018. Nowhere has deculturalization been publicly condemned or reformed through policy. The stripping of a child’s maternal language and culture through government schooling is the dominant practice and result of education in California to this day with few exceptions. Especially among Indigenous students, this reality constitutes a massive violation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Under these conditions, Anahuacalmecac questions whether California public schools truly provide access to an appropriate education for American Indian children. The recent Supreme Court Endrew F. decision highlights the validity of this question of the substantive appropriateness of educational access depending upon whether a student makes educational progress relative to his or her unique educational needs within the context of special education. Anahuacalmecac defines these needs as inclusive of language, culture, historical trauma and modern conditions of social inequity. California school districts do not provide American Indian children anything more than what has been described as minimally more than "de minimis" educational benefit ignoring centuries of negative impact as measured by all educational measures over decades and the obvious ongoing need to address educational benefit from the standpoint of Indigenous Peoples. Anahuacalmecac seeks to close this gap.
In the context of entrenched institutional discrimination and increased socioeconomic marginalization, Semillas proposes Anahuacalmecac as a community center for the renaissance of Indigenous childhood and empowerment. Renowned Pueblo scholar, Dr. Gregory Cajete of the University of New Mexico, writes that, “Modern education continues to be a major source of discontinuity. Traditional learning and culture have been generally ignored which has oftentimes been translated by Native American students as a rejection of both themselves and their cultures.” Indigenous students, Dr. Cajete goes on to underscore, then disengage from formal schooling. The aim of Anahuacalmecac as an autonomous charter school is to intertwine schooling, curricula and school culture for Indigenous learners in purposeful and impactful ways. In other words, education must become a dynamic process that engages Indigenous children in the acts of inquiry, creation and transformation. Indigenous scholars from around the world have documented the negative impact modern schooling continues to have upon Indigenous children and Indigenous Peoples.
“Currently, the colonial and neocolonial models continue to offer publicly funded schools and their students a fragmented, negative, and distorted picture of Indigenous Peoples in history, textbooks, and curricula. These models characterize Indigenous Knowledge as primitive, backward, or superstitious, causing Indigenous Peoples to be viewed as deficient and requiring remedies that renew the assimilation cycles of European knowledge and languages and that destroy Indigenous Peoples’ self-esteem and self-confidence.” 
In measurable terms, public schools and standard public education in general continue to marginalize Indigenous children creating a push-out force by middle school years so strong that children begin to abandon school, opting for the cold embrace of the streets instead. The chasm between the models of public schooling rigidly restricted to standardized test performance and the multiple types of learning experiences Indigenous children need is often not traversable. Scholars have noted, “While government-sponsored institutions saw education and suppression of the native language as a means of assimilation, religiously affiliated schools viewed the imposition of English as a means of conversion to Christianity.” Anahuacalmecac offers an alternative, a parallel public institution that engages parents, elders, scholars and children in the dynamics of learning and community-based autonomous education. Anahuacalmecac is in fact, “not only the remedy to the continuing failures of the educational system, but also the opening to understanding distinct and multiple knowledges that twenty-first century education must operate in.” Dr. Juan Gómez Quiñones, co-founder and honorary emeritus member of the Council of Trustees of Semillas has written, “There are three major questions in Indigenous learning: (1) What is my place in the world? (2) What is the place of my surroundings in the cosmos? (3) What is the right path to follow in order to fulfill my responsibilities as a member of the cosmos? Indigenous Peoples approach these questions with premised argumentation as well as purposeful observation: It is a way of thinking that is learned through exemplification. This thinking synthesizes induction and deduction; it stresses the particular. Above all, Indigenous thinking is flexible: objective and subjective, logical and extra-logical.” Anahuacalmecac posits and answers a fourth question: How ought WE cultivate our children to become better people?
SURVIVING THE ASSAULT: 2006