November 18, 2022 (Richmond, VA) -- Yesterday, the Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) voted to delay action on a new Standards of Learning and instead directed the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) to produce a new History & Social Science Standards of Learning Draft, which combines elements from the August 2022 draft and the most recent November 2022 draft. The VBOE now intends on holding a special meeting in January 2023 to once again vote on a first review of these standards.
As a reminder, the VDOE released their first draft of the History & Social Science Standards of Learning in August, and Sikhi was included in “World History & Geography.” However, on November 11, the VDOE released a new Standards Document but did not share the Curriculum Frameworks. While the updated Standards draft retained inclusion of Sikhi, the failure to share the Curriculum Frameworks rendered it impossible for the Sikh Coalition (or anybody) to accurately assess the depth of inclusion that we are fighting for.
Consequently, seven members of the Virginia Sikh community delivered public testimony at the VBOE meeting yesterday and advocated for the inclusion of Sikhi in Social Studies Standards & Curriculum Frameworks. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition joined the Hamkae Center and several other Virginia based organizations to rally for inclusive standards that will better serve all marginalized communities while demanding greater transparency in the process.
As a reminder, the Sikh Coalition and the Virginia Sikh community have been engaged in this process for two years. Virginia sangat members submitted public testimony in March 2021 and in September, more than 500 public comments were submitted by Sikhs across the state, while the Sikh Coalition facilitated a sign-on letter with seven Virginia gurdwaras
. The Sikh Coalition also submitted a sign-on letter
with nine Virginia-based organizations advocating for the VBOE to proceed by accepting the 2022 History & Social Science Standards in September, and delivered another letter with more than twenty Virginia-based organizations
urging the Governor, Secretary of Education, and Superintendent to recognize the concerns of educators, community groups, and students.
Additional opportunities for community feedback and engagement will arise over the coming months. We will continue to engage with Virginia sangat members to ensure our voices are heard at future public hearings and community roundtables so that inclusion of Sikhi in social studies classrooms in Virginia is realized.
The Sikh Coalition long prepared for this effort to become complicated on account of state and national political debates regarding educational materials in classrooms, and we are well positioned to continue advocating for the inclusion of Sikhi. Your engagement over the past two years and engagement moving forward is crucial to the success of this campaign and we will continue to provide updates as appropriate. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.