October 5, 2023 (Hartford, CT) – Yesterday, the Connecticut State Board of Education voted in favor of new social studies standards, which will include Sikhism for the first time ever. These new standards will give approximately 514,000 students in Connecticut the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community.
“These new standards will provide students the opportunity to learn about the Sikh community at all three levels of their education,” said Norwich City Councilman and sangat member Swaranjit Singh of Norwich, CT. “Classroom instruction about Sikh history and contributions from an early age are critical in creating a safe environment for our students.”
This update to Connecticut’s social studies standards is a result of a year of advocacy. Since September 2022, the Sikh Coalition and the Sikh community in Connecticut have worked together in order to achieve this outcome, and the Sikh Coalition served as an expert reviewer throughout the review process. The following is a summary of our work together:
- September 2022: We delivered correspondence to the Connecticut State Department of Education (DOE) on behalf of the Sikh Coalition to advocate for inclusion;
- December 2022: We met with the Connecticut Board of Education’s Social Studies Consultant to discuss the viability of inclusion of Sikhism in the final state standards draft;
- April 2023: We facilitated a sign-on letter with the Sikh Art Gallery to the Connecticut DOE;
- May 2023: Sikh Coalition staff recorded a social studies conneCTion podcast in collaboration with the Connecticut DOE on the importance of including Sikhism in state standards; and
- September 2023: The Sikh Coalition presented about inclusive education at the University of Connecticut’s Sikh Studies Week.
Inclusive and accurate standards are an important first step to combat bigotry and to reduce bullying. They benefit all students by increasing baseline cultural competency and decreasing ignorance.
Local adoption and implementation of the new standards will begin in the coming years. The Sikh Coalition will continue to work closely with the Connecticut DOE during this process. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition continues to collaborate with the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut and the CT DOE to collaboratively build a new set of resources, lessons, and professional development. These pathways create confidence and competence in teaching the global, national, and local dimensions of Asian American and Pacific Islander history, culture, and politics.
Connecticut is now 18th in a growing list of states that have worked with the Sikh Coalition to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school social studies standards. In June 2023, Washington, D.C. became the most recent region to ensure similar inclusion of Sikhism in their standards. These efforts mean that more than 25 million students from coast to coast have the possibility of a more inclusive and holistic education. We look forward to adding even more states to this list in the months and years ahead through continued advocacy alongside sangats.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.