Status of 2016 History – Social Science Curriculum Framework was approved on 14 July, 2016. The State Board of Education has now approved textbooks that are currently available for viewing at one of the 17 Learning Resources Display Centers (LRDC) statewide including Fresno. I managed to visit one at the Fresno County Office of Education, located at 1111 Van Ness, Fresno last week on May 16, 2018. Arranged by Dr. Mark Archon, Director Instructional Technology Services, Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, I met with Paz Delsid. Paz is a Library Specialist at the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools. Helpfully, she let me view all the Text Books by Publishers available at the library.
During my searches, I found more than half a dozen publishers other than McGraw and Pearson. McGraw appears to be the only one who wrote more about the Sikhs and Punjabi culture in their publication “World History & Geography – Medieval & Early Modern Times” Grade 7. Under various lessons, though very briefly they talk about: India’s Moughal Empire, Religious Changes in South Asia (Prof. HH Wilson-journal of the Asiatic Society of GB and Ireland), the Development of Sikhism, Guru Nanak at the age of 30, who guided early development of Sikhism, other Sikh Gurus and Banda Singh Bahadur. Touching very briefly about Sikhism To day on page 353 however, it erroneously ranks Sikhism as the 9th largest religion instead of the 5th largest practicing religion in the world as it is now .
Pearson on the other hand in publications, California History-Social Science “MyWorld INTERACTIVE” Grades 2, 3 & 4 touches scantily on the Sikh culture in a couple pictures. I didn’t find anything worth mentioning about the Sikhs and Punjabi culture covered by other publishers in their publications.
On the whole, I wasn’t that impressed to see the final verdict in print especially, when representing the Sikh Council of Central California (SCCC), I along with other members of the SCCC namely: Charanjit Singh Batth and Bharpoor Singh Dhaliwal had been involved in attending meetings since the Curriculum Framework Commission was set up in 2009. Along with many other community organizations (local and national), as well as individual community activists and scholars such as Dr. Onkar Singh Bindra of Sacramento, Dr. Jaideep Singh to name a few, had been actively spearheading, participating and submitting meaningful testimonies for consideration to the Instructional Quality Commission – California Department of Education in Sacramento. Having looked at these publications, I conveyed my concerns to the Library specialist Paz Delsid about what I found or didn’t find in these text books. Paz was very sympathetic and took a serious notice by conveying my concerns to her superiors.
Other minority communities like Sikhs, which are being taken on board first time in school books may also have similar concerns. On the brighter side however, I feel encouraged by the immediate action taken by the library specialist Paz Delsid as she shared my concern with her boss Brigeen Houghton, the library coordinator and Dr. Mark Archon and emailed their advice the next day. This is what she wrote:
“ I spoke to our library coordinator, Brigeen, about your concerns regarding the information found in textbooks about the Sikh culture. She indicated that one way to start would be at school board meetings in your community. That perhaps, you can ask to provide or submit enrichment resources, about Sikh culture, to go along with their current curriculum. I have copied her on this email, in case you have any clarifying questions. Also, we looked for the book you suggested, “Boy with the Long Hair”, and it has limited availability for purchase. My colleague has been putting together many resources to encompass diversity and a variety of cultures, Sikhs being one. These books will then be purchased for our library for teachers, across the county, to have check out. We could provide you with a list of books once the list is completed to share. Let me know if you are interested.”
Agreeing with them in response and to add to their list, I emailed back the list of Supplemental Instructions Material, which our community effort has already got approved by the California Department of Education as listed below.
CDE Approved Supplemental Instruction Material :
“The Sikh Next Door” of Lohgarh Sikh Foundation.
“The Boy with Long Hair” of the Sikh Foundation.
“Cultural Safari” of Kaur Foundation.
“Meet the Sikhs”, and “Sikhs in America.” PBS Videos of KVIE TV station of Sacramento.
As far as the curriculum is concerned, it appears that the dye is casted now for a foreseeable future considering it took almost 20 years to update the History-Social Science curriculum this time. Meanwhile the Sikh American community as well as other minority communities for that matter, needs to do the following as advised by library coordinator, Brigeen Houghton:
. To start attending school board meetings in your respective school districts.
. In order to supplement the text books, ask your school boards to provide enrichment resources available with the Fresno County office of Education library coordinator.
You may also read my blog post, “Unfavorable Conditions at home, Punjabi Studies find favors in California Main stream Education” posted on 18 April, 2018.