December 28, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
“The decision to include Sikhism was clearly the right thing to do. The Sikh American community has been contributing to the rich diversity that makes New York and this nation great for generations. We are incredibly grateful to the Sikh Coalition for tirelessly working with us over the past year to make sure we got it right.”
-Patricia Polan, Associate in Instructional Services for Social Studies in the NYSED Office of Curriculum and Instruction
New York, NY: A press release by the Sikh Coalition says [i]n another landmark education decision, the New York State Education Department has moved to include Sikhism in the Social Studies Framework for public school students. This Framework serves as the guide for local curriculum development. On the heels of the Texas textbook adoption, this marks the second monumental education victory for the Sikh community in weeks. Sikhism has never been included in the New York curriculum before.
More than 2.5 million students in New York will now learn about Sikhs in both 6th and 9th grade classes. In 6th grade, students will accurately learn about Sikhism’s origins, major tenets, practices and sacred writings. In 9th grade, students will learn about the development of Sikhism in South Asia in the post-classical era. This teaching of Sikhism changes the educational landscape for students in New York City – the city with the largest public school system in America – and throughout the state.
After California, the tri-state area boasts the largest concentration of Sikhs in the country. In 2013, the Sikh Coalition learned that the New York Social Studies Framework was under revision. The Sikh Coalition immediately reached out to the State Education Department to determine how Sikhism could be included in this Framework. Upon request, the Sikh Coalition provided content on Sikhism, detailed information on where other states had included the study of Sikhism, as well as a myriad of reference materials. After consulting with both the Sikh Coalition and Sikhism experts, the study of Sikhism was included in the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework, which was adopted by the Board of Regents.
Including Sikhism in the New York Social Studies Framework doesn’t just impact students. “Educating the state’s youth on Sikhs and Sikh practices is a fundamental step to building strong, positive relationships between Sikhs and the broader community,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Education Director, Manbeena Kaur. “Now Sikh parents throughout New York will no longer have to carry the burden alone when it comes to educating their children’s classmates on Sikhism.”
The press release further says that the Sikh Coalition continue to lead the way in education reform, building lasting partnerships with six of the largest textbook publishers in America. After Sikh religion was included in the Social Studies Framework in New York, the Sikh Coalition immediately reached out to those national publishers to ensure that they also include accurate content about Sikhism in the textbooks they distribute to New York schools.
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