Pyrrhic Victory? Sikhs and the Texas Board of Education

Late last week I received an email from the Sikh Coalition titled “Victory in Texas!!! 4.8 Million Students to Learn About Sikhi”. The email stated the following:

(May 21, 2010) Today, the Texas Board of Education voted to include information on Sikhs andSikhpractices in the state mandated curriculum for public school students. This marks a significant victory for theSikhcommunity as Sikhs and Sikhi has never before been included in the state-wide curriculum.

In 2011, Texas students will learn about Sikhs at three points during their public school education. Sixth graders will learn about Vaisakhi when they learn about Christmas, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and Diwali. High school students taking World History will learn about the origin of Sikhism and its basic beliefs. Finally, high school students will also learn locations of largeSikhpopulations in their World Geography classes.

The email continues in its excitement:

Texas Greatly Impacts the Rest of America

Texas is a very influential state for textbook manufacturers. State curriculum standards determine the content that will be included in new editions. Experts estimate that the decisions made by the Texas Board of Education affect the textbooks used in 46 other states because it is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks in the nation. In effect, Texas curriculum standards shape the content students will learn across the entire nation.

In all the exuberance, should we take a breath for the possible ramifications?

This ‘victory’ for the Sikhs, in this case, may not really be good for the country. The 15-member Texas State Board of Education was highly divided on partisan lines – with 5 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Along with ‘our victory’, the Board also decided to end the boogeyman ‘liberal bias’ of the social studies curriculum. Mind you last year the science curriculum was altered to undermine evolution, the Big Bang theory, and cell formation.

Now, Texas school children will get to learn about the greatness of partisan hacks like Newt Gingrich, the Moral Majority, Joseph McCarthy, and the Contract with America.

Here is a newsclip on what is occurring:

YouTube Preview Image

So while as a community we may rejoice at our inclusion, we should not blindly support such moves when they are just feeding into a partisan agenda. Although the Sikh Coalition’s efforts should be lauded, the result and its overall meaning should not be accepted without critique.


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28 Responses to “Pyrrhic Victory? Sikhs and the Texas Board of Education”

  1. Guest says:

    I've lived in Texas for the last 3 years. I think this is a small step in the right direction in the midst of a gigantic leap in the wrong direction. I'm a professional in Texas, an MD, and I would say Texas is the racially most hostile and aggressive state I've been in the USA. I would also say this extends to the most educated members of Texan society. I regularly face a baseline level of hostility and aggression that I would have found to be breathtaking prior to moving here but which I've grown accustomed to by need. Suffice it to say I will leave Texas as soon as I am able. This is not a phenomenon limited to just Sikhs, minorities are endemically treated with hostility and aggression that often takes on both subtle and overt dimensions. It may help that Texas children will receive some education on Sikhism but I think the overall environment is exceedingly hostile toward minorities and only appears to be headed more in that direction.

  2. Guest says:

    I've lived in Texas for the last 3 years. I think this is a small step in the right direction in the midst of a gigantic leap in the wrong direction. I'm a professional in Texas, an MD, and I would say Texas is the racially most hostile and aggressive state I've been in the USA. I would also say this extends to the most educated members of Texan society. I regularly face a baseline level of hostility and aggression that I would have found to be breathtaking prior to moving here but which I've grown accustomed to by need. Suffice it to say I will leave Texas as soon as I am able. This is not a phenomenon limited to just Sikhs, minorities are endemically treated with hostility and aggression that often takes on both subtle and overt dimensions. It may help that Texas children will receive some education on Sikhism but I think the overall environment is exceedingly hostile toward minorities and only appears to be headed more in that direction.

  3. Cheema says:

    America is backwards..UK teaches all religions up from the age of 6

  4. Cheema says:

    America is backwards..UK teaches all religions up from the age of 6

  5. sonny says:

    "I think this is a small step in the right direction in the midst of a gigantic leap in the wrong direction."
    I agree fully. Extremely disturbing what is going on in Texas, which compliments the extremely disturbing policies being implemented next door in Arizona. Here is a post from the huffington post about it:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bryan-monroe/how-te

  6. sonny says:

    "I think this is a small step in the right direction in the midst of a gigantic leap in the wrong direction."
    I agree fully. Extremely disturbing what is going on in Texas, which compliments the extremely disturbing policies being implemented next door in Arizona. Here is a post from the huffington post about it:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bryan-monroe/how-te

  7. Harinder says:

    Tell me which country in world is not rascist towards its minorities.
    It is a natural human trait.

    Dubai sentences 17 SIkhs to gallows.
    India does not punish the preperators of 1984 killers.
    Punjabi Sikhs are hostile to Dera Sacha sauda followers

    etc etc

  8. Harinder says:

    Tell me which country in world is not rascist towards its minorities.
    It is a natural human trait.

    Dubai sentences 17 SIkhs to gallows.
    India does not punish the preperators of 1984 killers.
    Punjabi Sikhs are hostile to Dera Sacha sauda followers

    etc etc

  9. Simmi Kaur says:

    Jodha,

    I don't quite see the logical flow in your argument.

    How does the 'exuberance' around the inclusion of Sikhi in the curriculum have anything to do with other the various, unrelated, negative decisions by the Texas School Board?

    The YouTube clip is helpful in explaining why Sikhs, and definitely the readers of this 'Progressive Sikh blog' should worry about trends in Texas. But it has nothing to do with the email excerpts with which you open your post .

    Are you insinuating that the Sikh Coalition is celebrating all the backward decisions by the TX school board? Nothing in what you cite even remotely hints at this, so if you have some additional information, do share. Otherwise, such a blatant conflation of issues seems quite baffling to this reader!

    A fair argument might be that Sikhs should celebrate our victory while recognizing other defeats that effect us as Sikh Americans. But pray tell why we shouldn't celebrate our victory (however small you/we deem it) for a minute without apologies? Let's give the subaltern a break. Our celebration doesn't condone the other trends in TX–but why you would even need that spelled out is curious.

    Raj Karega Khalsa!

  10. Kuldip Singh says:

    Jodha, neither is the Sikh Coalition Pyrrhus, nor is Texas Epirus. This is intellectual masterbation at best. The plain facts are that Sikhi was not in the Texas school curriculum. Now it will be included. This has nothing to do with other choices made by the Texas school board. Your linking of two unrelated issues to reprimand a Panthic organ is argumentum ad hominem. And your engagement in it while writing behind an alias is reprehensible. Any amount of education on Sikhi in a "red state" curriculum is welcome for the Sikhs of the United States.

  11. Simmi Kaur says:

    Jodha,

    I don't quite see the logical flow in your argument.

    How does the 'exuberance' around the inclusion of Sikhi in the curriculum have anything to do with other the various, unrelated, negative decisions by the Texas School Board?

    The YouTube clip is helpful in explaining why Sikhs, and definitely the readers of this 'Progressive Sikh blog' should worry about trends in Texas. But it has nothing to do with the email excerpts with which you open your post .

    Are you insinuating that the Sikh Coalition is celebrating all the backward decisions by the TX school board? Nothing in what you cite even remotely hints at this, so if you have some additional information, do share. Otherwise, such a blatant conflation of issues seems quite baffling to this reader!

    A fair argument might be that Sikhs should celebrate our victory while recognizing other defeats that effect us as Sikh Americans. But pray tell why we shouldn't celebrate our victory (however small you/we deem it) for a minute without apologies? Let's give the subaltern a break. Our celebration doesn't condone the other trends in TX–but why you would even need that spelled out is curious.

    Raj Karega Khalsa!

  12. Kuldip Singh says:

    Jodha, neither is the Sikh Coalition Pyrrhus, nor is Texas Epirus. This is intellectual masterbation at best. The plain facts are that Sikhi was not in the Texas school curriculum. Now it will be included. This has nothing to do with other choices made by the Texas school board. Your linking of two unrelated issues to reprimand a Panthic organ is argumentum ad hominem. And your engagement in it while writing behind an alias is reprehensible. Any amount of education on Sikhi in a "red state" curriculum is welcome for the Sikhs of the United States.

  13. Bik says:

    Jodha,

    So what pains you is that along with learning about Sikhism, the kids is Texas will get a bit more conservative bias and less liberal bias in their text books? How does that take away from the fact that a Panthic jathebandi has managed to create awareness of Sikhsm, which is the need of the hour for Sikhs in the USA? Don't let your 'progressive' liberal bias blind you to what is a great achievement. For 99.9% of Sikhs it matters not whether the state adding Sikhi into the curriculum is a red state or a blue state or whether the overall curriculum has a liberal or conservative bias, but for some of our 'progressive' Sikhs like you it matters a great deal. Sad really.

  14. Bik says:

    Jodha,

    So what pains you is that along with learning about Sikhism, the kids is Texas will get a bit more conservative bias and less liberal bias in their text books? How does that take away from the fact that a Panthic jathebandi has managed to create awareness of Sikhsm, which is the need of the hour for Sikhs in the USA? Don't let your 'progressive' liberal bias blind you to what is a great achievement. For 99.9% of Sikhs it matters not whether the state adding Sikhi into the curriculum is a red state or a blue state or whether the overall curriculum has a liberal or conservative bias, but for some of our 'progressive' Sikhs like you it matters a great deal. Sad really.

  15. Kuldip Singh says:

    Rakesh, I was going to ask you to provide some evidence showing how Sikh sources are silent about theology. Then I noticed that you can't even write one line of English properly. I would suggest listening to Osho's commentary on the Japu ji <a href="http://(http://www.gururavidassny.com/htmls/downloads/jjso.html)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.gururavidassny.com/htmls/downloads/jjso.html) to see what your fellow Hindus have to say about Sikh theology. Don't embarass youself by making such idiotic comments.

  16. Kuldip Singh says:

    Rakesh, I was going to ask you to provide some evidence showing how Sikh sources are silent about theology. Then I noticed that you can't even write one line of English properly. I would suggest listening to Osho's commentary on the Japu ji (http://www.gururavidassny.com/htmls/downloads/jjso.html) to see what your fellow Hindus have to say about Sikh theology. Don't embarass youself by making such idiotic comments.

  17. Sher says:

    Kuldip, I have not read Rakesh's message but why do you think 'he' may not be able to provide some evidence about sikh sources as he cannot "…write one line of English properly". I am pretty sure vast majority of Sikh gayanis would be in the same boat as Rakesh (can't even write one line…). So? Does this mean such gayanis, mahapurkhs cannot comment on sikhi? Such arrogance!!!! And what is this jibe about Osho? Is it a compliment to Hindu intellectuals/philosophers? BTW I am not sure whether Osho was a Hindu in the first place or not. He was born in a Jain family and died with title of Osho (title used by Japanese Zen Masters). get over your bigotry and be a true sikh (nimana). JUST CURIOUS, CAN YOU PROVIDE SOME EVIDENCE SHOWING SIKH SOURCES ARE NOT SILENT ABOUT THEOLOGY?

  18. Sher says:

    Kuldip, I have not read Rakesh's message but why do you think 'he' may not be able to provide some evidence about sikh sources as he cannot "…write one line of English properly". I am pretty sure vast majority of Sikh gayanis would be in the same boat as Rakesh (can't even write one line…). So? Does this mean such gayanis, mahapurkhs cannot comment on sikhi? Such arrogance!!!! And what is this jibe about Osho? Is it a compliment to Hindu intellectuals/philosophers? BTW I am not sure whether Osho was a Hindu in the first place or not. He was born in a Jain family and died with title of Osho (title used by Japanese Zen Masters). get over your bigotry and be a true sikh (nimana). JUST CURIOUS, CAN YOU PROVIDE SOME EVIDENCE SHOWING SIKH SOURCES ARE NOT SILENT ABOUT THEOLOGY?

  19. indoussummit says:

    In celebration of its Golden Jubilee, the Indo-American Society (IAS) is proud to convene the first ever Indo-American Summit on Higher Education during 30, 31 July 2010 and 1 August 2010 at the Hotel Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

    The Summit will present participants with an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with key business, political and academic personalities at a national and international level and address important issues, particularly in regard to policy framing and regulations and international partnerships.

  20. indoussummit says:

    In celebration of its Golden Jubilee, the Indo-American Society (IAS) is proud to convene the first ever Indo-American Summit on Higher Education during 30, 31 July 2010 and 1 August 2010 at the Hotel Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

    The Summit will present participants with an invaluable opportunity to collaborate with key business, political and academic personalities at a national and international level and address important issues, particularly in regard to policy framing and regulations and international partnerships.