August 6, 2020 (Sacramento, CA) -- Last Friday, the California Department of Education (CDE) released
their second draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. Despite a sustained advocacy campaign
by the Sikh Coalition, the Jakara Movement, and Sikhs and allies across the state, this second draft again failed to meaningfully include the Sikh community, as well as many other underrepresented communities. However, this fight is far from over and we need your help to push forward.
Earlier this year, the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement submitted a series of specific recommendations
for the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum to ensure more meaningful inclusion of the Sikh community. This was accompanied by a letter from 52 gurdwaras
across the state supporting these requested changes.
Unfortunately, none of these changes were taken on board or effected in the second draft of the model curriculum. In fact, the specific suggestions of many distinct groups were ignored, as the CDE chose to abstain from “difficult choices” about which communities’ stories to tell at the classroom level. The decision to ask individual schools and school districts to choose which communities to include--as opposed to laying out a strong, detailed curriculum with many specific examples, as the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement provided for the CDE--will mean that teaching about Sikhism will continue to be ignored in most classrooms across the state.
"What is the third-most spoken language in California's Central Valley?" asked Naindeep Singh, the Jakara Movement's Executive Director. "Punjabi--the language spoken by most immigrant Sikhs. When regional elected officials don't know the answer, it's no surprise that schoolchildren don't either. Unfortunately, Sikhs hardly find a mention in any school curriculum, and we continue to be excluded from the Ethnic Studies conversation as well: The draft curriculum continues this silencing, ignoring the ways that Sikhs have played a vital role in shaping California's history for over 125 years."
Despite this setback, the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement are not giving up! We are currently preparing more than 25 California Sikh community members to provide public comment on the second draft at an Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) meeting next week. In the meantime, you can take action to raise your voice on this critical issue
- Sign the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement’s joint petition in favor of the Sikh community's meaningful inclusion in the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum by Monday, August 10. This petition, which already has more than 1,100 signatures, will be delivered virtually in advance of next week’s meeting, and every additional voice counts!
- Watch next week’s IQC meeting online on Thursday, August 13 starting at 10:00 PM PDT. You can watch the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement’s social media channels for content during this time, and make your own posts--tagging the California Department of Education at @CAEducation on Facebook or @CADeptEd on Twitter--to urge them to include the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement’s specific recommendations about the Sikh community in the final draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum.
“Now is the time to fight for our history to be taught,” said Satjeet Kaur, Sikh Coalition Executive Director. “The CDE knows that schools and teachers must have a specific curriculum inclusive of underrepresented communities like ours, because that is the only way this material gets taught in classrooms. That’s why we provided them with the exact content and examples
they needed, and that’s why we will continue to push for meaningful inclusion in next week’s meeting and beyond.”
The Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement will continue to provide updates on the ongoing Ethnic Studies conversation. We anticipate an additional period for public feedback during September after next week’s IQC meeting, and we will reach out with new ways for you to make your voice heard in the months ahead.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.