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Friday, June 27, 2008

Anahuacalmecac School Charter: Efren Works to Help Gain Approval!

"The educators and leaders of Academia Semillas del Pueblo
Xinaxcalmecac continue to be the heart of our organization,
the dream weavers, and those who dare to teach when all
else tells us to forget. Our xinaxtin, our students, deserve no less."
—Marcos Aguilar, Executive Director, Semillas Sociedad Civil,
Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter Elementary School—

Dear Friends,

Two months ago our friend and committee member, Mario Rocha, contacted me and invited me to join him in garnering support for Anahuacalmecac, International University Preparatory High School of North America ("Anahuacalmecac"). The school needed charter approval from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Directors to open its doors to students this Fall. Many of you may recall I wrote members of The Injustice Must End (TIME) Committee about this.

Anahuacalmecac is the upper division complement to the current International Baccalaureate (IB) Early and Middle Years programs at Academia Semillas del Pueblo (“Academia”) in El Sereno, located in Los Angeles. This high school phase rounds out the vision of a richly multi-cultural, multi-lingual and humanistic educational continuum that children everywhere deserve.

In the message that Mario shared with me he stated:

"In 2002, founders of Academia had a vision of offering students a high quality international education rooted in cultural practices. The vision developed in response to the cultural void in public schools that insisted on teaching Indigenous Peoples that "History" commenced when Christopher Columbus set foot on this continent and, therefore, our history did not matter. They also wanted to combat the exorbitant dropout rate and failure of the current education system to adequately prepare students for the university.

Under the plan envisioned by Academia, students would leave high school with a diploma in their hands and a uniquely global understanding that would afford them academic confidence in any higher education setting – in the continent or abroad. It would also provide students the wherewithal to maintain their positive sense of identity while respecting other cultures."

I eagerly accepted Mario's invite and joined the group of noble citizens who were working together to make Anahuacalmecac a reality.

I first learned about this historic endeavor shortly before my birthday, April 4, 2008. Upon learning about it I immediately began contacting family members about my interest in contributing to this campaign. I asked them to create a Facebook group for Anahuacalmecac, an online petition, and I even devoted a page on my web site to spreading awareness about the need for the school. I asked people to create these things as a birthday gift to me and they graciously did it.

For two months we launched a strong public relations campaign to generate support for Anahuacalmecac. Sending e-mails, messages through Facebook, posting information on friends' Facebook walls, shared it on MySpace, etc. School administrators, parents who wanted their children to attend Anahuacalmecac, and other members of the community also toiled hard during this time as well.

And, it all paid off. Wednesday I learned that by unanimous vote from the LAUSD Board of Directors voted to approve the charter petition for Anahuacalmecac on June 24, 2008.

I was very pleased to receive this news and to have been a contributor to the success of the charter approval. It isn't every day that we can be a part of opening an institutional of learning, particularly one that had to vigorously struggle for its existence. This was also particularly special to me because of the world class education and model for success that Anahuacalmecac provides its children.

I was willing to engage in a protracted struggle to help the children, parents, and Anahuacalmecac faculty realize their dream. I sacrificed time, energy and resources from my own struggle for justice and freedom to contribute to this effort. And, I did so without reservation. I would do it again too.

I remind people all the time that our struggle is a shared struggle. And while we share our struggles we also share our victories. I am honored to share this victory and I invite my supporters across the globe to celebrate it along with me as well.

The success of the charter approval is a testament to the reality that together we can achieve great things. Our collective energies are powerful beyond measure and the strength of our voice continues to crumble the walls of oppression and injustice.

Never the doubt the power of our unity as we continue adding more rungs to the ladder of opportunity for our children.