July 15, 2016 (Sacramento, CA) – Yesterday, the California State Board of Education successfully passed recommendations to accurately include Sikh history in the curriculum framework. The purpose of this framework is to provide clear guidance for educators, curriculum leaders and textbook publishers.
“This is not just an enormous victory in California, but also for the entire nation,” said Harjit Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s California Community Development Manager. “California, given its influence on the national educational system, will continue to set the precedent for this process in other states.”
For years, the Sikh Coalition has been working tirelessly with community leaders and scholars from across the nation to ensure that Sikh and South Asian history is documented accurately. In California, advocates from a multi-faith and multi-caste community came together to form South Asian Histories For All (SAHFA). This coalition worked together to advocate for the accurate inclusion of Sikh, Dalit, and Muslim history in the California curriculum framework.
We are grateful to the thousands of community members who came forward to sign petitions to ensure that Sikh history is accurately preserved in the curriculum framework. As a result, non-Sikh organizations were thwarted in their attempts to distort our history. Through this successful work, California’s curriculum framework will maintain that Sikhism is an independent religion based on the belief in one God and the equality of all human beings. Importantly, the framework will also continue to highlight Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s belief in universal equality and the rejection of the caste system as a core tenet of Sikhism.
The Sikh Coalition has also successfully advocated against the false claims made by those who have tried to eliminate unpleasant historical facts as an unprecedented means to prevent school bullying. “As leaders in bullying prevention, we empathize with every child that is bullied,” said Harjit Kaur. “However, when students are bullied because of their actual or perceived religion, national origin, ethnicity, or race, the proper solution is to acknowledge the underlying racism and bigotry. We must foster these conversations, not suppress them.”
The California State Board of Education will now work with the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to develop a prepublication draft that will eventually be launched statewide. The IQC will also simultaneously develop a model curriculum for educators to be approved by the California State Board. “We look forward to engaging in every step of this process to ensure that all students in California receive an accurate account of history,” said Harjit Kaur.
As always, we continue to urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.