October 3, 2019 (Bismarck, North Dakota) – On Tuesday, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) released new social studies standards, which for the first time ever include Sikhism.
The new standards
will give 109,000 students, this time in North Dakota, the opportunity to now accurately learn about the Sikh community. This is another significant milestone in the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year campaign to ensure that every public school student has the chance to learn about Sikhism accurately, so that Sikh awareness continues to grow among our fellow Americans for generations to come.
"It is critical for students across the country to learn about their diverse neighbors," said Satjeet Kaur, Sikh Coalition Executive Director. “Sikhs have been contributing to the American fabric for over 125 years, and these new standards will help ensure North Dakota students can learn this history and be prepared to engage with the Sikh community."
The update to North Dakota’s social studies standards resulted from months of behind the scenes advocacy led by the Sikh Coalition. In November 2018, the initial request
was made for Sikhism to be included in the new standards. However, Sikhism was still omitted when the new draft was released, and so in May 2019, the Sikh Coalition wrote again
to the NDDPI to request its inclusion. Unfortunately, Sikhism still remained excluded from the standards, so the Sikh Coalition continued to directly push for the inclusion of Sikhism with the Social Studies Standards Development Committee through June 2019. Finally, after months of advocacy, Sikhism was included just before the standards were approved.
“We are delighted that North Dakota has made their standards more inclusive," said Pritpal Kaur, Sikh Coalition Education Director. "It is critical that Sikhism should be represented accurately in the K-12 education system and taught alongside other world religions.”
The new, more inclusive standards will start to be implemented immediately during the 2019-2020 school year and the Sikh Coalition will continue to work closely with the NDDPI as they engage in professional development and resource creation around the new standards.
North Dakota becomes the 11th in a growing list of states
– including Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Texas, California, Tennessee, Idaho, Colorado, Michigan, and Oklahoma – 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 approximately 42% of all public school students.
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.