Millions of American students know nothing about their Sikh classmates. Although Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, and Sikhs have contributed to American society for over 125 years in the fields of civil rights, politics, agriculture, engineering, and medicine, Sikhs and their social and historical contributions are largely absent from state educational standards and their associated materials, which help determine the subjects included in classroom curricula and lesson plans. According to Sikh students who experience bullying, ignorance breeds animosity; one of the best ways to keep them safe is to educate their teachers and classmates about the Sikh tradition in an accurate and constitutionally appropriate way.
The Sikh Coalition continues to partner with school officials nationwide to ensure that Sikhs are integrated into state standards and their associated materials. Following victories in New Jersey, Texas, New York, California, Idaho, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, North Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Mississippi, Virginia, and Connecticut we continue to expand this campaign to achieve full coverage throughout the United States as opportunities for standards revision arise. In 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education voted in favor of adopting new content and examples that include Sikhism for the first time; these standards are structured differently than in other states, but Sikhism is now included in the accompanying documents from which teachers can draw classroom materials.
To accomplish this goal, we are systematically building relationships with state departments of education and mobilizing sangats to participate in these conversations. In addition, in 2019, we crafted the first-ever C3 Resources to teach about Sikhism, providing materials to more than 9,000 teachers across the country who use the C3 Framework to inform their social studies standards and curricula.
- state standards victories so far
- M public school students now have the opportunity to learn about Sikhism
- teachers have access to our C3 resources about Sikhism
Because of the Sikh Coalition’s persistence over more than ten years, 18 states have moved to include accurate information about Sikhism in their standards and associated materials. This means more than 25 million students, or about 49 percent of public school students nationwide, now have the opportunity to learn about Sikhs. In addition, our release of the first-ever C3 resources in 2019, empowers social studies teachers in at least 23 states to teach about Sikhism through inquiry. Ultimately, all of this work represents a push for a generational shift in Sikh awareness, which in turn will make classrooms safer and more inclusive for Sikh and non-Sikh children alike.
This map shows the progress achieved by our advocacy to include Sikhism in social studies state standards and their associated materials across the country.
This map shows where teachers across the country use the C3 Framework to inform their standards and curricula. (Source: Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution)