In July 2016, the California Board of Education voted to include accurate information about Sikh history in the state’s curriculum framework. This decision is an important step toward ensuring that students in California have a better appreciation of their Sikh friends and neighbors.
This victory was made possible by strong partnerships between the Sikh Coalition and a grassroots network of Sikh community leaders, religion scholars, and interfaith activists. Nearly 10,000 Sikh Coalition supporters signed petitions to the California Board of Education in support of this campaign.
The California Board of Education will now work with the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to develop a model curriculum for educators, paving the way for millions of students to learn about Sikhs. Notably, our campaign overcame stiff opposition from non-Sikh advocacy groups who wanted to rewrite Sikh history and deny Guru Nanak’s opposition to the caste system. Indeed, one of the reasons why so few Americans know about Sikhs is that, for centuries, our community’s history was previously written by non-Sikhs. Our work in California is a step toward changing this dynamic and will ensure that Sikh history is taught accurately to our fellow Americans for generations to come.
Why It Matters
California is the nation’s most populous state, with an estimated 6.2 million students. Because most Sikh Americans live in California, it is critical that students there learn about Sikh beliefs and traditions and the vital contributions that Sikhs have made to the state and its vitality.