May 23, 2019 (Oklahoma City, OK) – Last week, the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted to approve new social studies standards, which, for the first time ever, will include Sikhism.
The new standards will give nearly 700,000 students in Oklahoma the opportunity to now accurately learn about the Sikh community. This is another significant victory in the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year campaign to ensure that every public school student in the United States has the chance to learn about Sikhism accurately, so that Sikh awareness continues to grow among our fellow Americans for generations to come.
“Our family has lived in Oklahoma for many years, and our youngest son is still studying in the public school system. These new standards will go a long way in ensuring all Sikh children feel represented and included in the classroom,” said Sikh community member Gurcharan Singh. “I am grateful the Sikh Coalition worked to ensure Sikhism is integrated into Oklahoma’s revised standards.”
Our Persistence Paid Off
The update to Oklahoma’s social studies standards resulted from months of advocacy behind the scenes by the Sikh Coalition. In November 2018, the initial request was made for Sikhism to be included in the new standards. This inclusion was made to the draft and the Sikh Coalition wrote again to the Board to thank them for this revision in order to ensure that it would not be removed.
The new, more inclusive standards will start to be implemented during the 2019-2020 school year. Review of instructional materials, development of curriculum frameworks and provision of professional development opportunities for teachers will occur during this time. It is hoped that full implementation will happen by the 2020-2021 school year.
“The accurate inclusion of Sikhism in more state standards across America is part of the Sikh Coalition’s efforts to ensure that all children feel represented, included and safe when they go to school,” said Pritpal Kaur, Sikh Coalition Education Director.
Oklahoma becomes the 9th in a growing list of states – including Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Texas, California, Tennessee, Idaho and Colorado – that have worked with the Sikh Coalition to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school social studies standards. These efforts are now positively educating over 15 million public school students.
At present, we are working to make sure Michigan becomes the 10th state in June. We look forward to adding even more states to this list in the months and years ahead.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.