Indivisible: Conejo Weekly Newsletter



Sunday, September 10, 10 a.m.-noon
Lundring Event Center, CLU Campus, Thousand Oaks

Special Guest Speaker

How We’ll Run, Engage & Win in 2018

Featuring Distinguished Panelists
Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks
Thousand Oaks City Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña
CVUSD Trustee Betsy Connolly

Our activism makes a difference every day – but if we really want to create progressive change in our community and across this country, we must embrace the hard work required to win in 2018 and beyond! Join Indivisible: Conejo and an all-star lineup of guests who’ll discuss what it takes to run for and hold local office, and how to support candidates up and down the ballot. We’ll talk about filing papers, walking precincts, running phone banks … and, yes, raising money … all the struggles, risks and rewards of campaigning (for yourself or others) and engaging in public service. We’ll also have information on the elected positions on the ballot next year, at every level of government. This is sure to be a heavily attended event, so please RSVP!

Indivisible: Conejo activists Jennifer Eis, left, and Janie Ahlberg speak during Tuesday's CVUSD board meeting.

'Part-Time Indian' Vote A Victory

For Teachers, Students, Free Expression

After two months of advocacy spearheaded by Indivisible: Conejo's First Amendment team and other advocates of free expression, the Conejo Valley Unified School District's board of trustees voted on August 15 to approve Sherman Alexie's young-adult novel "The Absolutely True Adventures of a Part-Time Indian" for use in 9th-grade classrooms. At the end of 4 1/2 hours of public comment and board debate, the trustees voted 4-1 to add the book to the Core Literature curriculum. 

The lone dissenting vote was a noticeably angry board president Mike Dunn, who was captured on a live microphone after the vote asking fellow conservative Sandee Everett, "What happened to you?!?" Dunn, who already had proven his lack of understanding of district policies and processes throughout the summer -- not to mention his unsteady grasp of concepts such as "pornography" and "child abuse" -- added another whopper on Tuesday when he said the book is "obscene." Nevertheless, he was unable to convince Everett or the board's third conservative, John Andersen, to reject "Part-Time Indian."

The latter two trustees had spent much of Tuesday's meeting claiming that CVUSD parents do not have sufficient opportunities to opt out of literature they do not want their children to read -- despite a longstanding, informal opt-out practice that was described as successful, if rarely used, by the district's interim superintendent, Mark McLaughlin, as well as its director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, Dr. Jennifer Boone. Andersen and Everett both advocated that the opt-out policy be formalized, but it is unclear whether doing so would run afoul of state regulations governing curriculum and parental rights.

About two-thirds of the local residents attending the board meeting were there to support the inclusion of "Part-Time Indian," and those who spoke on the book's behalf included numerous Indivisible: Conejo activists. An additional voice was heard at the last moment before the meeting, when the American Library Association responded to a request from Indivisible: Conejo and sent a letter to the board encouraging it to "take advantage of the opportunity to reaffirm the importance and value of the freedom to read ... [and] send a powerful message to students that, in this country, they have the responsibility and the right to think critically about what they read, rather than allowing others to think for them.”

The battle over Alexie's book promises to be just one skirmish in an ongoing culture war within CVUSD, as Dunn attempts to impose his extreme religious agenda on both the board and the district's schools and students. In this case, Andersen and Everett seem to have recognized the damage they would do to the district's reputation by banning the teaching of such an acclaimed novel. However, the conservative constituency that spurred their elections -- exemplified on Tuesday by the presence of a new advocacy group that introduced itself as ... wait for it ... "Unified Conejo" -- undoubtedly will demand action on other hot-button issues in the future, as other aspects of the curriculum come up for consideration.

Indivisible: Conejo will remain vigilant and forceful in arguing for an expansive, even-handed and secular public-school curriculum, in the face of such religious-based attacks. For now, Indivisible: Conejo activists have every reason to celebrate a job very well done, as well as a huge public victory in the fight for free expression.

One last reminder!



TONIGHT, August 18, 5:30 p.m. - ???

Please RSVP!

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. 



News from the Issue Action Teams

Is there a group below whose work you'd like to join? Take a moment to fill out our "Join Us" form so you can stay in touch with the issues that concern you.

Immigrants' Rights
The August 23 meeting is going to be essential to planning the final push for SB54. This week, team members met once again with staff from Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin's office to discuss SB54, The California Values Act, and SB10, a bail reform measure.

LGBTQ+ Rights
It's not too late to help staff our booth at the Ventura Pride Festival on August 19! Sign up here

The team called our members of Congress to protest the Trump administration's latest, and most sweeping, attack on our environment: the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act (S 935/HR 2134). This bill would, among other things, amend the ESA to require congressional approval before species can be listed as endangered or threatened, and would automatically remove plants or animals from the endangered/threatened lists after five years unless Congress passed a joint resolution to retain them.