Paula Nathan: Conejo Valley PTA’s Voice for the Controversial


Staff Writers


Though late, the 11-7-17 Conejo Valley Unified School District Board meeting began — albeit only with the aid of a gavel. Following announcements from the closed and open sessions, the agenda was approved — and an already heated display increased its intensity not long thereafter.

While the discussion item (11A) concerning certain instructional (read: pornographic) written materials — potentially on offer against the wishes of a diverse plurality of students and parents— was slated for later arrival, Paula Nathan took the non-pro-choice move of rearranging the timeline. First Amendment choice was scheduled for the equal sharing of all, but most in attendance were offended by the idea. For them, Ms. Nathan did not disappoint.

Nathan, the President of the Conejo Valley PTA, was clear: “Teachers are a part of us. We implicitly trust our teachers with the safety, well-being and (most importantly) the education of our children,” to which the room’s non-plurality majority audience applauded.

Not rushed to announce the requested parent support organization report, she went on: “Teachers have years of education, and many have special credentials, masters degrees and doctorates. Teachers attend professional development classes to keep them up to speed with the latest in education. Children challenge our teachers every day to handle a multitude of personalities and learning styles. When a parent contacts a teacher, they are seasoned professionals: it’s not their first rodeo. They know what to do when they have an upset parent or an upset student.”

And if there was any doubt of unreasonable derailment, Ms. Nathan removed it one sentence later: “To discount the extensive training that our teachers go through (and to think that you personally can do better) is frankly a slap in the face of our educational community,” to which the non-diverse crowd predictably cheered. The Conejo Valley’s parent support organization reports were prefaced with an unsolicited opinion, welcomed unequally by the community.

“Teachers strive to provide our students with a well-rounded education to prepare them for the rigors of the world. Homeschool is always an option for those who do not want their children to have a free, public education by qualified teachers.” Not to be outdone, Ms. Nathan doubled down: “Now I’d like to talk a little bit about the art of complaining. As overseers of the PTA units in the Conejo Valley, we feel very protective of the schools we watch over. And just like (as a mom), I’m protective of my child: when they hurt, we hurt.”

It went on: “Imagine you live in a friendly, lovely neighborhood, and one week you skipped mowing your lawn (and it got a little bit tall). The Next week you receive a letter from Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., that someone filed a formal complaint about the squalor in your front yard. You mow your yard; water your plants, but the letters keep coming. City inspectors come by: you wonder, ‘What could you have done to deserve this?’”

Data shows the majority of concerned local parents and students ask the same question — though their voice was not heard for a long time thereafter. Those who would blame them for not attending last Tuesday’s school board meeting are hard-pressed to do so in good faith: aside from economic hardships, the vitriol of the anti-choice majority in attendance was palpable.  ‘Diversity is our strength!’ was clearly not their credo.

Paula Nathan removed all doubt as to the agenda she was sent to deliver. Hers is clearly a strength enjoyed outside of the benefits of diversity. Moreover, though, she has un-blurred the lines of a controversial discussion that cannot be blurred again. Many notes were taken during Ms. Nathan’s comments, and all throughout the meeting for that matter. For this, all freedom lovers should be thankful.

If either side of this escalating school board ‘educational materials’ controversy wishes to stuff the unpleasant facts ‘back in the bag’, neither will be successful. They cannot be: too much has been released for any anti-pro-choice agenda to achieve anything more than a pyrrhic victory. As for the pro-choice freedom lovers of the Conejo Valley, the future of their wishes here remains to be seen — at least until next Tuesday’s school board meeting, where further discussion and a vote will be taken, on this: Sandee Everett Presentation_FINAL2

Example of literature on reading list: Excerpt from: “Snow Falling on Cedars.”

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William Hicks

“Home School is an option.” Thank you for that bit of wisdom.
With that wisdom another consideration is for vouchers. If you really believe that a failing public education system is where you want your money to go, then just choose public education. Otherwise, you can join the growing population of those in Conejo Valley that have OPTED OUT of public education and chose private education. IF public education were so great, then everyone in favor of required reading of pornographic books should love to send their voucher to a public school. But that would require choice; and that wouldn’t fullfill the agenda of the administrative state.

Jackie Greenhill

Why fictionalize a situation already rife with melodrama? The screen-shotted passage you are claiming is from “Part Time Indian” is not. Do a little research! Clearly this author has not read any of the books in question, and continues to run with the distractor side-story about immorality and corruption of our children (as if in reading a novel in the eleventh grade would be their first brush with sexuality!).
The screenshot included in this article is from ”Snow Falling on Cedars.” And while cherry-picked to shock and horrify your readers, the truth is that the novel it is taken from is rich and beautiful. It plumbs of the depths of human edurance and capacity. It explores the best and worst of who we all are and what we all do. Just like “Part Time Indian.” This is the value of literature- it presents us with relatable characters set in worlds unfamiliar to us, letting us peer into their challenges, revelations, strivings and failures so that we may better understand our own.
The mock horror at the contents of a few passages taken out of context not only underestimates kids, but entirely misunderstands the written word. If our concern is sincerely an overinflated sense of protection, where is the conversation surrounding violence in text, racism, theft, alcoholism, abuse of power, injustice? The issue at hand in CVUSD is puritanical sensibility overreaching into policy, and a school board overreaching into instruction.

Citizen Reporter

Thanks for clearing that up with your encyclopedic knowledge of the District’s pornographic book selections. Correction made. Actually, it was one of our editor’s error, not the authors’. You further illustrate the huge gulf among views in the district. Clearly an accommodation for concerned parents must be made. It is no accident that Sandee Everett was the big vote winner in the election. Elections have consequences. If the “professionals” STILL don’t understand that, then something is seriously lacking in them.


I’m so confused as I’ve read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian (the title is listed wrong here) and these characters aren’t in the book. I think you are confusing books. Just thought folks should know that information is being misrepresented.