Virginia has become the 17th state to include Sikhism and Sikh practices in public school social studies curriculum.
On Thursday, the Virginia State Board of Education voted in favor of a new standard of learning. The update is a result of the state’s collaboration with national nonprofit Sikh Coalition, which has advocated for the change since March 2021.
Named the 2023 History and Social Science Standards of Learning, the Virginia Department of Education shared that the new standards will “have a broader focus on the contributions of all Americans, in particular African Americans, Indigenous Peoples and Asian Americans.”
Board of Education President Dan Gecker shared his confidence in the new curriculum:
I am confident these standards will meet the needs of Virginia’s children. Are they perfect? Probably not. But they represent a balance between content knowledge and inquiry as well as the consensus of the board regarding what students should know about our history and institutions.
Sikh Coalition Senior Education Manager Harman Singh also shared his approval of the upcoming change to Virginia’s public education system:
After more than two years of engagement alongside the local sangat, this change will help to ensure that Sikhi can be taught in classrooms across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Inclusive and accurate standards are an important first step to combat bigotry and to reduce bullying, and they benefit all students by increasing cultural competency.
However, while the new standards do reflect a positive change, the Sikh Coalition clarified that their work is far from finished as there are “serious and well-documented flaws” that persist.
The organization also called for further representation of various communities and stated they would fight for “all groups whose histories should be taught accurately.”
The new standards of learning are expected to be implemented by the 2025-2026 school year after the new curriculum frameworks are developed in May by the Virginia Department of Education.