Oklahoma includes Sikhism in state education standards

It becomes the 9th state to include Sikhism in public school social studies standards.

For the first time, more than 700,000 public school students in Oklahoma will have an opportunity to accurately learn about the Sikh faith, traditions and community. The Oklahoma State Board of Education, on Thursday, voted to approve new social studies standards, which include Sikhism.

The civil rights organization Sikh Coalition was involved in a multi-year campaign to ensure that every public school student in the United States gets the chance to learn about Sikhism, a faith that has often come under the scanner in the US for lack of awareness.

“Accurate education and representation in the classroom remain critical to combating school bullying, bigotry and raising Sikh awareness,” said Pritpal Kaur, Director of the Sikh Coalition Education, in a press release.

The organization made an initial request for Sikhism to be included in the new standards in November 2018.

Obliging the request, the Oklahoma Board of Education confirmed that it would implement the new social studies standards by the 2020-2021 school year, through a rollout during the 2019-2020 year.

This rollout will start with a review of instructional materials, continuing with the development of curriculum frameworks and ending with the provision of professional development opportunities for teachers.

“Our family has lived in Oklahoma for many years, and our youngest son is still studying in the public school system,” said Gurcharan Singh, a community member. “These new standards will go a long way in ensuring all Sikh children feel represented and included in the classroom.”

In October 2018, the Arizona State Board of Education had voted to approve new history and social science standards, which included Sikhism and several other world religions for the first time.

Oklahoma becomes the 9th state, after Arizona, New York, New Jersey, Texas, California, Tennessee, Idaho and Colorado, to include accurate information about Sikhs in their public school social studies standards.

According to the Sikh Coalition, some 15 million public school students are taught the new curriculum.

 

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