CVUSD Censorship Battle Set to Resume Tuesday
Is Sherman Alexie’s young-adult novel “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” an emotionally harrowing, enlightening tale that would open high school students’ eyes to the contemporary struggles of an ancient, oppressed people … or is it “pornography” whose use in the classroom would constitute “child abuse”? The ridiculous latter half of that question remains at the heart of a censorship controversy within the Conejo Valley Unified School District – a battle that heats back up on Tuesday, August 15, at 6 p.m. with the new school year’s first meeting of the CVUSD board of trustees.
The board’s president, Mike Dunn, has kept the dispute on a low boil through the summer, as he has searched for a way to keep as many students as possible from reading “Part-Time Indian.” By delaying a necessary June vote on adding the book to the curriculum, he succeeded in stopping the district’s 9th-grade teachers from adding it to their lesson plans for this fall.
Since then, Dunn has floated several potentially censorious “solutions” in email exchanges with his critics – including several Indivisible: Conejo activists. Those suggestions included:
- Requiring parents to submit permission slips before students could read the book as part of their coursework – creating an opt-in prerequisite that would negate the district’s traditional policy allowing parents to opt OUT of their children engaging particular class materials.
- Sending a “parental advisory” note to parents before the book is taught – thereby begging the question, Who is doing the “advising” and on what basis … and why does that person (Dunn?) get to decide?
- Placing content “advisories” on a list of the full curriculum and distributing it to parents – thereby giving Dunn the ability to tar a broad range of books, not merely “Part-Time Indian.”
At one point in early July, Dunn asked several of his critics to meet with him and fellow conservative board member John Andersen, to find a “compromise” based on his suggestions. He later dropped the idea, however – perhaps because activists held firm in opposition to his efforts to keep students from reading “Part-Time Indian,” and presented a united front objecting to his use of words such as “pornography” and “child abuse” to characterize the book and its inclusion in the curriculum.
It is unclear, as of this writing, what scheme Dunn might unveil during the August 15 board meeting. It is expected that both pro- and anti-censorship advocates will fill the board chamber and be even more raucous than the crowd at the board’s last meeting in June. Indivisible: Conejo activists are encouraged to attend, and to speak on behalf of “Part-Time Indian” and in opposition to Dunn’s efforts to keep important literature out of CVUSD’s classrooms.
The meeting will be held in the back building of the district offices, located at 1400 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.
Friday, August 18, 5:30 p.m. - ???
Over the last six months we've worked hard to become effective activists and resist the Trump agenda. Now it's time to celebrate our successes -- and all the new friendships we've made! Please join us for an evening of fun, food, music and conversation. The location will be provided after you RSVP. Don't wait -- because this event is being held in a private home, a limited number of RSVPs will be accepted!
MARK YOUR CALENDAR!
UPCOMING INDIVISIBLE: CONEJO TEAM MEETINGS
Indivisible: Conejo Daily Actions: August 4 - 10
8/5- Calls to Give Thanks for Saving the ACA
8/7 - Call Senator Kamala Harris to say protect our air!
8/8- Calendar Check
8/9 - Urge Our Assembly Members To Support Bail Reform
8/10 - Tell Congress to Confiscate Trump's Nuclear Button
News from the Issue Action Teams
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The August 23rd meeting is going to be essential to planning the final push for SB54. This is an all-hands-on-deck meeting for the team - please plan to be there.
Individuals with Disabilities' Rights
The team sent a letter Governor Brown and Lieutenant Gov. Newsom regarding ESSA. Our goal is to shine a strong light on the our state's shortfalls and gain media attention. While ESSA affects kids with disabilities, ALL kids in the California will be gravely affected if their plan moves forward without significant modification. This weekend's meeting is a great chance for you jump into this important work - RSVP above.
The team attended the opening of The Diversity Collective's LGBTQ+ Resource Center in Ventura on Thursday. We also held a successful sign-making event Saturday, creating fabulous banners for our Pride booth. We are also looking for volunteers willing to staff and to help register voters at our booth at the Ventura Pride Festival on August 19th! Sign up here.
Our environmental warriors advocated for clean air standards by organizing a calling campaign against HR 806, the so-called "Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017," and continues to work to prevent the power plant construction on the Oxnard coast. New co-leader Peggy Abate is joining Lisa Dahill in inviting the team to gather for social time and further planning on September 6th (RSVP above).