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The Sikh Coalition News
August 23, 2022
  • [TAKE ACTION] Virginia Board of Education Releases First Draft of Social Science Standards; Help Keep Sikhi Included!

    August 23, 2022 (Richmond, VA) -- The Virginia State Department of Education (VDOE) released their first draft of the History & Social Science Standards of Learning in late July, and Sikhi was included in “World History & Geography.”

    However, at their August 17th meeting, the Virginia Board of Education voted to postpone the first review of the standards until their September Board Meeting. Public hearing sessions and community roundtables are tentatively slated throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia between late September and October.

    Accordingly, while it remains encouraging that the first draft included teaching about Sikhi, we must remain vigilant in advocating for inclusion at every opportunity we can, as the draft is subject to change.

    The Sikh Coalition has prepared for the state standards conversation to get complicated on account of state- and national-level political conversations, which is why we started this work with sangat members in Virginia on this process almost two years ago. We are well prepared to tackle the challenge of this moment, and to work to ensure the inclusion of Sikhi in classrooms.

    Watch this video tutorial on how to submit public comments to do the following:

    1. Thank the VDOE for including Sikhism alongside other major world religions in the “World History & World Geography” standards.

    2. Request deeper inclusion of the Sikh perspective by adding United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) to “Virginia and United States History”.

    3. Encourage the Virginia Board of Education to proceed by accepting the 2022 History and Social Science Standards of Learning draft as submitted to the Board of Education on August 17, 2022 
    with a continued eye and intention on inquiry-based learning and incorporating diverse perspectives.

  • Submitting comments will take less than 10 minutes, but they are crucial to the success of this campaign, and will play a critical role in ensuring students in the Commonwealth of Virginia can learn about Sikhi in their classrooms. Also, please email education@sikhcoalition.org to let us know once you submit the surveys–it is important for us to have a sense of the numbers of survey respondents so that we are able to gauge impact. 

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.

    Visit this Google Doc to begin.

    Step 1 - Enter your email address

    Step 2 - Select your role (parent, student or “other” for community member)

    Step 3 - Select “No comment for WHII.1

    Step 4 - Find WHII.2 and select WHII.2a. Copy and paste the following text into the "WHIT.2 Comment(s) - Please denote specific substandard(s)" field:
    • WHII.2a, Knowledge and Learning Experiences: Summarize the major beliefs and tenets of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. I support the inclusion of Sikhism alongside other major world religions. Despite being the world’s fifth largest religion with over 25 million followers, Sikhism was unfortunately omitted from Virginia’s previous History and Social Science Standards. A report by the Sikh Coalition found that Sikh children are bullied at twice the national average. It is of utmost importance to secure safe and inclusive classrooms for all, starting with accurate representation when teaching about world religions. With 8 gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship) in Virginia, thousands of Sikh children attend Virginia's Public Schools. We deeply appreciate that the standards are moving in a more inclusive and diverse direction.
    Step 5 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.3

    Step 6 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.4

    Step 7 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.5

    Step 8 - Find WHII.6 and select WHII.6b. Copy and paste the following information into the “WHII.6 Comment(s) - Please denote specific substandard(s)” field:
    • WHII.6b, Understandings: Sikhism grew in northern India and challenged Mughal authority.
    • WHII.6b, Supporting Questions: How did the emergence of Sikhism impact India?
    • WHII.6b, Knowledge & Learning Experiences: Use information sources to analyze how the growth of Sikhism challenged the Mughal Empire.
    • I support the inclusion of Sikhism alongside other major world religions. Despite being the world’s fifth largest religion with over 25 million followers, Sikhism was unfortunately omitted from Virginia’s previous History and Social Science Standards. A report by the Sikh Coalition found that Sikh children are bullied at twice the national average. It is of utmost importance to secure safe and inclusive classrooms for all, starting with accurate representation when teaching about world religions. With over 8 gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship) in Virginia, thousands of Sikh children attend Virginia's Public Schools. We deeply appreciate that the standards are moving in a more inclusive and diverse direction.

    Step 9 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.7

    Step 10 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.8

    Step 11 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.9

    Step 12 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.10

    Step 13 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.11

    Step 14 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.12

    Step 15 - Select “No Comment” for WHII.13

    Step 16 - Copy/paste the following text into the “General Comments about the World History and Geography 1500 to Present Course not shared in previous comments” field.
    • Given our shared commitment to create safe, healthy, inclusive classrooms where students learn to engage civically and become effective leaders, we trust that Virginia will join the growing list of states that have added Sikhism to their social studies standards, including New Jersey, Texas, New York, California, Idaho, Tennessee, Colorado, Arizona, Oklahoma, Michigan, North Dakota, Nebraska, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina.
    • Finally, I support the Virginia Board of Education to proceed by accepting the 2022 History and Social Science Standards of Learning draft as submitted to the Board of Education on August 17, 2022 with a continued eye and intention on inquiry-based learning and incorporating diverse perspectives.

    Step 17 - Hit “Submit

    Next, visit this GoogleDoc.

    Step 1 - Enter your email address

    Step 2 - Select your role (parent, student or “other” for community member)

    Step 3 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.1

    Step 4 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.2

    Step 5 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.3

    Step 6 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.4

    Step 7 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.5

    Step 8 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.6

    Step 9 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.7

    Step 10 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.8

    Step 11 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.9

    Step 12 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.10

    Step 13 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.11

    Step 14 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.12

    Step 15 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.13

    Step 16 - Select “No Comment” for VUS.14

    Step 17 - Find VUS.15 and select VUS.15a. Copy and paste the following text into the “VUS.15 Comment(s) - Please denote specific substandard(s)” field:
    • Current Standard: VUS.15a, Knowledge & Learning Experiences: Contextualize various information sources and data to understand the perspectives, lived experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to explain significant work, legislation and Supreme Court rulings such as United States vs. Wong Kim Ark (1898), The Yellow Power Movement, the Japanese American Citizens' League and Lau v. Nichols.
    • Suggested Edit: Inclusion United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) alongside Supreme Court rulings.
    • Rationale: Bhagat Singh Thind, a Sikh American, enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War I. After the war, following a legal ruling that Caucasians had access to citizenship rights, he sought to become a naturalized citizen. At this time, anthropologists categorized Indians as Caucasian. Thind took the citizenship oath and received his citizenship certificate in the state of Washington on December 9, 1918. Only a few days later, his citizenship was revoked on the grounds that he was not a white man. Thind applied for citizenship again in the neighboring state of Oregon in 1919. A federal judge heard testimony from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) but this time ruled in favor of Thind. He became a citizen in November of 1920. INS appealed the decision to grant citizenship in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which sent the case to the Supreme Court. In 1923, in the case United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, the Court decided in favor of the United States, retroactively denying all Indian Americans citizenship for not being Caucasian in "the common man's understanding of the term.” Finally in 1935, the 74th congress passed a law allowing citizenship to U.S. veterans of World War I, even those from the barred zones. Dr. Thind received his U.S. citizenship through the state of New York in 1936, taking the oath for the third time to become an American citizen.

    Step 18 - Copy/paste the following text into the “General Comments about the Virginia and United States History Course not shared in previous comments” field:
    • We deeply appreciate that the standards are moving in a more inclusive and diverse direction with the inclusion of Sikhism in the World History and Geography standards.
    • At the same time, it is vital for deeper inclusion of the Sikh perspective in the contemporary context. On February 19, 1923 the U.S. Supreme Court denied Bhagat Singh Thind citizenship to the United States because of his race & ethnicity. Many years later Thind, the earliest known Sikh soldier in the U.S. Army, overcame racist laws to finally become a citizen. Thind's story is a landmark case which should be studied and understood by Virginia's students.
    • Finally, I encourage the Virginia Board of Education to proceed by accepting the 2022 History and Social Science Standards of Learning draft as submitted to the Board of Education on August 17, 2022 with a continued eye and intention on inquiry-based learning and incorporating diverse perspectives.

    Step 19 - Email education@sikhcoalition.org with the Subject “VDOE Comment Submitted.” If more than one person has submitted a form, please indicate how many forms were submitted.
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Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email  

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Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email  

Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email  

Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email  

Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email  

Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email  

Editing:VA Standards sangat email Editing:VA Standards sangat email