Cave dwellers VS Ron Matthews

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Recently, the County Board of Education balked at using a textbook that taught evolution but not Christian Intelligent Design. In the end, the county board followed the law for the very few students in their system and adopted a state approved textbook as they always were going to anyway. My theory was that they wanted to attract media attention to their political cause when they brought up this issue. It worked!

A guy that lived in a cave for close to two years is making fun of County Board of Education member Ron Matthews in this video I found on

Warning: There is foul language at the very beginning.

A question that was not answered for me from local articles has to do with the original complaint. It came from Carl Olsen( you can view his website by clicking on the link) that lives in the San Fernando Valley but has a daughter at Simi Valley High School. How did he come to be involved in a dispute about a 7th grade textbook used by Ventura County Office of Education Schools ( which is different than local schools). Was there a notice in local papers? The Acorn makes him seem like a concerned parent instead of a dedicated activist. ( For the record being devoted to a cause is not a bad thing in my book).

It seems either he pays really close attention as he is part of a textbook activist organization, or someone from the county board talked to him about the book in advanced.


I think I support the cave person.

Here is the California State Science Standards for 7th grade.

What point do people object to in them?


3. Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. As a basis for understanding this concept:
1. Students know both genetic variation and environmental factors are causes of evolution and diversity of organisms.
2. Students know the reasoning used by Charles Darwin in reaching his conclusion that natural selection is the mechanism of evolution.
3. Students know how independent lines of evidence from geology, fossils, and comparative anatomy provide the bases for the theory of evolution.
4. Students know how to construct a simple branching diagram to classify living groups of organisms by shared derived characteristics and how to expand the diagram to include fossil organisms.
5. Students know that extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient for its survival.

If people don't object but want to make room for them in the standards which other standard do they want to remove classroom time from?

You can see all the 7th grade science standards here.

Great video that is totally right on! Ron Matthews is an embarrassment to Ventura County and he should resign or be recalled!

There isn't anything close to a movement to recall Matthews. I seem to remember a bunch of talk about some recall in Pleasant Valley. How did that go?

Would fundamentalists be satisfied if we required ALL schools to teach comparative and critical analysis of ALL religions, side-by-side? Would it be safe for fundamentalism? I'd much prefer we make ethics & civics a bigger part of our children's education but...hey!

I agree with GS. Let's make room in the schedule for more civics and ethics classes. What shall we eliminate first? Core academic classes? What about not letting students and their families choose electives. We could eliminate sports so we can add Conservative Christian Intelligent Design side by side with Islamic and Norse creation stories.

Why is it that the anti-UFO lobby won't let us discuss the idea that aliens put us here?

The only reason theories like creationism or intelligent design still exist is because the government banned them from schools...

Just another way the government divides the population and keeps everyone angry at each other...

Glad to see the attack parrots are back at Matthews. You people are ridiculous.

Attack Parrots Version 1.0, who are you mad at?

You people?

No, you are too far out there and not very polite to debate you.

Dear Dennert Bloggers:

We will be discussing the issue of science textbook content at tonight's VCBE board meeting.

It begins at 6 pm, but this item is agendized towards the end of the meeting.

Board room is in the left wing of our Conference Center at 5100 Adolfo Rd.

I thought you already approved the new textbook. How many students does the county have on average in 7th grade programs for a year?

Brian -
We have relatively very few. Our Board President appointed me to find out what CSBA and CCBE could do to "lobby" for a re-evaluation of science textbooks' content.

Tonight, I reported that CSBA and CCBE do not lobby for one Board's issue. Through
these organizations, school boards develop policies and priorities that are used to direct CSBA/CCBE staff in developing legislation of statewide interest that will be carried by sponsoring legislators. Strength through #s is most effective.

Working to incorporate intelligent design or any other version that leads to a particular religious subtext within a science class is unconstitutional. In every case, ID has been found to violate the Establishment Clause.

I believe there are ways we can explore the kinds of issues Mr. Matthews wants
without violating 1st Amendment rights. Comparing religions or exploring
the issue of conflicting values are a couple of ways. Also, churches can offer after
school classes exploring these issues independently. We can explore these issues
without confusing different ways of knowing or violating constitutional protections.

Attack Parrot still believes that the earth is flat and that the earth is only 5,000 years old. He or she also believes in the tooth fairy and believes Bush actually listens to the religous right, even though we now know the White House sat around cracking jokes about the Christian Coalition after each time they dropped off a big bag of campain cash that had been fleeced from the flock! What a joke you are!

Is the county really thinking of creating new courses for 7th graders? What would you remove from their schedule? How would that work when a student transfers back to their home school?

Billy Goat Gruff,

No. Points were meant to open up possible alternatives to end in one little corner
of education one campaign in the culture wars.

Teachers should be able to teach science as science and religious organization have the freedom, time, and place to offer their knowledge to students after school.

I don't know who disagrees with your statement ML Peterson. Do you know anyone?

What about teaching that disease comes from sin instead of germs? Many people believe that so can we avoid a culture war clash and inject that into your "science" classes so that they are balanced?

Have you been reading the Star? Court cases that have been heard throughout the
country lately that concerns ID and the theory of evolution?

I think I have worked to be and have been pretty clear about this issue here and in previous entries. Your sarcasm seems to be evidence of your misunderstanding of my obvious views.

If I may try one last time (I think most readers are bored by this redundancy by now):

I do not see a conflict between my religious values and the scientitic facts supporting
evolution. But some do.

If the conflict can be resolved in a fair and reasonable manner -- that means to channel the frustration and hostility surrounding this issue -- I think public schools can go on to do their job. One way might be to provide an appropriate time and place to have discussions to
1. address reasonably these apparent conflicts,
2. learn to understand & work with those who do not necessarily share your views, and
3. know the difference between values and facts,
4. respect that science classes teaches the scientific method, not atheism,
5. consider that religion -- meaning without the exclusion of ANY -- can be discussed
-- without proslytizing -- in an appropriate setting that does not threaten the
separation of church and state or athiests or agnostics, and
6. consider that United States citizens have tremendous freedom to provide religious
instruction at their places of worship.

Finally, am I to understand from your second sentence that YOU BELIEVE I have suggested or, even more absurdly, that I want to "inject" ID or any form of that or your twist on religious values (sin) into science classes? That that is my notion of balance?

If so, not at all. There are reasonable ways to discuss and compare relgious values without confusing them with science or the scientific method.

Let's move on. . . . Not to worry "Obvious" -- I am confident you are determined enough to find many more flaws in me and with my views.

ML, Being that the county board has no choice either legally or realistically to adopt a non-state approved textbook that includes a definition of evolution but does not include creationism it seems thins whole thing has wasted time that could be spent on more productive uses. Do you agree?

You also said:

Teachers should be able to teach science as science and religious organization have the freedom, time, and place to offer their knowledge to students after school.

I agree with you. Do you think the rest of the board agrees with you? Is there anyone that disagrees with you?

Thanks for your public service.


I think there are many who think this may have been a waste of time. I don't.

The speakers who came before us were advocates for presenting additional
facts that contradict aspects of evolutionary theory. Each time I hear their point of view,
I see how advocates move away from religious conclusions and do a much better
job of presenting science. That is progress: the discussion has moved from beliefs to facts. Facts can be verified or disproved facts. That is where the discussion should remain.

Without providing a respectul forum for citizens to dissent and present their views and engaging in dialogue, is there adequate means to move thinking beyond the pendulum just swinging back and forth and us staying stuck within our own set of ideas?

Regarding other Board Members' pov: I think we all agree that values, ethics, and philosophy are important discussions for our students to have. We support some "character-based" curriculum.

For me, it needs to be anchored into citizen building and developing healthy and meaningful relationships. Those, for me, are obvious. What is diffilcut is learning how to do those well.

I believe that learning how to and when to discuss values v. facts, science v. faith
takes time and practice for our students growing minds.

I can't speak for my colleagues on how they would specifically approach this.

There has been some talk about ethics and philosophy within science classes. I

What I took from parents and children presenters is that there are lack of protocols and opportunities for communicating well with teachers when differences or questions arise.

With all the confusion and change underway in our expectations of public schools and their proper role, that seems necessary.

As Americans, we have been giving enduring principles and structures to work through these differences in religion, political thought, and educational philosophies.

Allowing dissent and discussion on science curriculum was useful and proper.

Error: As Americans, we have been given

Dear Mr. Dennert:

This is a belated reply to your blog about the defective textbook "California Life Science" under consideration for adoption by the Ventura County Board of Education.

My objections focused solely on the numerous factual errors in just the first couple chapters of the book, and not on the evolution issue. See my website

California Education Code section 60200(c)(3) require that textbooks be "factually accurate", section 60045 requires school districts to provide "accurate" textbooks, and section 60045 requires school districts to reject textbooks with commercial logos etc. (as "California Life Science" is filled with.

I appeared at the July BOE meeting on the textbook issue because it was on the agenda for a couple of months. The proposed textbook was available for review at the BOE HQ. I took the time to review the first few chapters and found numerous factual errors, which I presented to the Board.

You may be interested that the state Board of Education has no regulations which involve factual accuracy in textbooks and no job descriptions that involve ensuring factual accuracy. This is truly a tragic and anti-intellectual attitude by the state.

We urge that textbook publishers offer warranties on accuracy, so that factual errors can be fixed ASAP for current books in use.

Right now, California students are being dis-educated in the millions of incidents every year. It is certainly part of the low test scores that we have had to put up with from public schools.

You may note also that the Simi Valley Unified School District has finally agreed to have a program to identify factual errors and confront publishers with their defects. All school districts in Ventura County (and, of course, the country) should have such a program. The California School Boards Association should help out the local districts in coordinating this program statewide.

Your thoughts are very welcome. See plenty more details on our website

Carl Olson
Textbook Trust

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  • Carl Olson: Dear Mr. Dennert: This is a belated reply to your read more
  • ML Peterson: Error: As Americans, we have been given read more
  • ML Peterson: Brian, I think there are many who think this may read more
  • Brian: ML, Being that the county board has no choice either read more
  • ML Peterson: Obvious, Have you been reading the Star? Court cases that read more
  • Obvious: I don't know who disagrees with your statement ML Peterson. read more
  • ML Peterson: Billy Goat Gruff, No. Points were meant to open up read more
  • Billy Goat gruff: Is the county really thinking of creating new courses for read more
  • Recall Ron Matthews: Attack Parrot still believes that the earth is flat and read more
  • ML Peterson: Brian - We have relatively very few. Our Board President read more