November 22, 2014 | By Parmjeet Singh
Austin, Texas, USA: A release by the Sikh Coalition says [a]fter nearly six years of on-the-ground advocacy work led by the Sikh Coalition, the Texas Board of Education voted on Friday (Nov. 21, 2014) to approve textbooks that have corrected over 50 inaccuracies about the Sikh religion and its relationship to history.
The Friday vote was the culmination of countless in-person meetings, emails, phone calls, lobbying, and hundreds of hours poring over thousands of textbook pages to find and correct the inaccuracies. Some of the incredible mistakes that were corrected include, “…the religion is based on the Hindu devotion to Vishnu and the Muslim Sufis, or mystics,” and “Sikhism was an attempt to blend aspects of Hinduism and Islam.”
The Sikh Coalition corrected these errors to now read, “Sikhism emerged in 1469 in Punjab, rising from the religious experiences and teaching of Guru Nanak. It is a unique, independent religion”.
“While the Sikh Coalition has worked with educators throughout the country to incorporate the study of Sikhism into the public school curriculum, we strategically invested long-term in Texas because many of the largest textbook manufacturers base their content on Texas. The Texas market for purchasing books dwarfs almost every other state so what Texas decides for their classrooms could follow in up to 46 states across the country” reads the release issued by the Sikh Coalition.
‘This means that changes made in Texas pave the way for millions of children throughout the country to learn about Sikhism accurately’ it reads further.
|June 2009 –
|The Sikh Coalition visits Sikh communities in all the major Texas cities to rally support for the campaign. Led by the Sikh Coalition, Texans produce over 400 letters and over 1,000 petition signatures to the Board of Education requesting that Sikhism be included in the state social studies standards The Sikh Coalition attends – along with Texas Sikhs – each of the four public hearings to testify that Sikhism should be included in the standards in Austin, TX. The Sikh Coalition also personally meets and lobbies more than half of the Board of Education members to raise an amendment to include Sikhism in the standards.
|Sikhism is included for the very first time in the social studies state standards for Texas. Students in 6th grade, World History, and World Geography classes are now learning about Sikhs. The textbooks that align with these new standards will not be available in schools until 2015. The Sikh Coalition contacts the three largest textbook publishers in the country to offer to review their content on Sikhs for Texas textbooks.
|September 2011 – January 2013
|Since Texas teachers are not getting new social studies textbooks until 2015, the Sikh Coalition leads a state-wide effort to provide teachers with information on how to teach Sikhism accurately. The Sikh Coalition hosts workshops and delivers presentations at a dozen state conferences for social studies educators. Thousands of teachers are given accurate and relevant teaching resources to deliver their lessons on Sikhs.
|August 2013 – February 2014
|Leveraging the great relationship that the Sikh Coalition had developed with strategic board members, the board contacts the three leading textbook publishers and encourages them to work with the Sikh Coalition to review their Sikh content. Two of the three leading publishers agree, and begin formally working with us. The Sikh Coalition forms a review panel consisting of several Sikhism and religion scholars who review the passages in the textbook that mention Sikhs and offer their recommendations for revisions to these publishers.
|Draft copies of the social studies textbooks become available for the public to review. The Sikh Coalition begins reviewing content on Sikhs in each of the three leading publishers’ textbooks and discovers over 40 factual errors still exist about Sikhs. We then began a multi-step strategy to correct these errors leveraging Board relationships, new publisher contacts, and the Sikh community in Texas.
|The Sikh Coalition reaches out to Texas residents and urges them to submit emails to the Board of Education during the state-mandated public comment period, asking for these 40+ factual errors to be corrected. During this time we send a letter detailing the errors along with suggested replacement text. The Sikh Coalition along with a dozen religion scholars signs a Board letter, while the Sikh community also sends dozens of emails. At the September public hearing, four Texas residents travel to Austin, TX and testify in front of the Board that that these errors need to be corrected.
|The Sikh Coalition reaches out to an additional three textbook publishers to correct factual errors.
After two-dozen in person meetings, emails, and phone calls initiated by the Sikh Coalition, all 50+ errors Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill Education, Cengage Learning, Social Studies School Service and Discovery Education social studies textbooks have been corrected.
|Texas Board of Education Members decide which publishers’ books are on the recommended list for school districts to purchase. All six publishers’ textbooks that the Sikh Coalition has been reviewing are included.
|Texas students will learn and read accurate information about Sikhism and Sikh Americans in their new social studies textbooks from Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill Education, Cengage Learning, Social Studies School Service and Discovery Education.
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