(May 21, 2010) Today, the Texas Board of Education voted to include information on Sikhs and Sikh practices in the state mandated curriculum for public school students. This marks a significant victory for the Sikh community as Sikhs and Sikhi has never before been included in the state-wide curriculum. In 2011, Texas students will learn about Sikhs at three points during their public school education. Sixth graders will learn about Vaisakhi when they learn about Christmas, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and Diwali. High school students taking World History will learn about the origin of Sikhism and its basic beliefs. Finally, high school students will also learn locations of large Sikh populations in their World Geography classes.
Texas Greatly Impacts the Rest of America
Texas is a very influential state for textbook manufacturers. State curriculum standards determine the content that will be included in new editions. Experts estimate that the decisions made by the Texas Board of Education affect the textbooks used in 46 other states because it is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks in the nation. In effect, Texas curriculum standards shape the content students will learn across the entire nation.
"This victory not only affects Texas students, but has implications for the entire nation. Textbook manufacturers frequently base their textbooks on Texas standards. This is a monumental step forward in making the future brighter for generations of Sikhs."
- Manbeena Kaur,
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The Sikh Coalition commends the state Board of Education and urges all state Boards of Education to take similar measures. Today's victory - which the whole community should cherish - is an important first step towards ensuring that Sikh parents and students do not solely carry the burden of educating students on Sikhs and Sikh practices. As we know, education is best tool to fight bias and discrimination.
Texas Community Effort Makes a Difference
The Texas sangat, in coordination with the Coalition, produced over 400 letters last October to the Board of Education requesting that information on Sikhs be included in the state curriculum. Texas Sikhs also presented a petition to the Board in January which included over 1,000 signatures from Texas constituents requesting the Board to include Sikhism in the standards. The Coalition flew to Texas to attend four meetings of the Board of Education and organized local Texas Sikhs to testify in front of the Board.
The Coalition would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their dedication in this effort: State Board of Education Member Patricia Hardy, Jasmine Kaur from Sikh Research Institute, Dan Quinn from Texas Freedom Network, Dr. Paul Henley from Texas State Teacher's Association, Monica Singh, Moni Katial, Izhaarbir Singh, Harpal Singh, Bobby Singh, Monique Singh, Shammi Gill, Gurmit Singh, Dr. Harbans Lal, Meharvan Singh, Preeti Singhnarula, Komal K. Suri, Jagmit Singh, Aman Sangha, Juspreet Kaur, Harmandeep Wadhwa, G.P. Singh, Dr. Stephen Nickle, Rubinder Kaur, Moninder Chadha, Mandeep Kaur, and Harsimran Singh.