Letter to Arizona State Board of Education to Adopt Revised Curriculum Standards

Dear State Board of Education Members,

Organized by the Sikh Coalition – the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the U.S., we write to you as a group of Arizona communities in support of adopting the DRAFT Arizona History and Social Science Standards, 2018. We deem these new education standards critical for the wellbeing of the communities we serve in our official capacities.

We urge you to adopt these revised standards as prepared by teachers and educators in Arizona. For a variety of reasons, some of which are outlined below, these revised standards are superior to both the current standards (2005) and the Hillsdale standards recently proposed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Diane Douglas.

The revised standards are comprehensive and:

  • Reflect the expert opinions of those who know Arizona’s students best: the teachers and education professionals who have dedicated their careers to Arizona’s children
  • Are more detailed, robust and provide more breadth of learning for students
  • Equip students better for a globalized world
  • Are more diverse, inclusive and representative of Arizona’s communities by including religions such as Sikhism, Shintoism and Taoism and also by including learning about but not limited to African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, women, and Native Americans
  • Develop civic virtues and encourage service learning

We support the inclusion of these diverse learning opportunities into our state’s education standards. Adopting these standards would improve cultural and religious literacy, and, as a result, would help curb intolerance and bigotry. Arizona is a diverse society racially, culturally and religiously.

Since the curriculum standards were last updated 13 years ago, our great state has continued to diversify, evolve and grow and there are no signs that trend is changing. Our teachers and students need to be equipped with the tools necessary to successfully teach, learn and thoughtfully engage the changing demographics of our communities.

This not only makes our students better equipped to deal with the challenges they will encounter in a globalized world, but it also makes our classrooms and the state of Arizona safer for the marginalized communities that continue to face fear, intolerance and bigotry.

As Board of Education members, you have the power to change the status quo and promote tolerance within our communities by voting for these more inclusive state standards. Arizona cannot afford to be left behind with an education system that is nationally ranked as #43. The communities in our state deserve better. We sincerely believe that giving students the opportunity to learn from these revised standards will benefit them personally and will also pay tremendous dividends for the state of Arizona for generations to come.

We strongly encourage you to pass the inclusive revised standards for the good of our children and our communities.

Thank You.

Respectfully submitted:

  • The Sikh Coalition
  • Board of the Arizona Council for the Social Studies
  • Arizona Faith Network (Jannah Scott, Interim Executive Director)
  • Arizona Interfaith Movement (Larry Fultz, Executive Director)
  • Arizona Interfaith Council (John Akram)
  • Arizona Jews for Justice (Noah Kutchin, Program Director)
  • CAIR-AZ
  • Community of Christ (Eldred Spain, Minister)
  • Interfaith Cooperative Ministries Food & Clothing Bank (Abby Loza, Director of Volunteers & Programs)
  • Islamic Networks Group (Maha Elgenaidi, Executive Director)
  • Islamic Speakers Bureau (Azra Hussain, Director)
  • Japanese American Citizens League (David Inoue)
  • Nishkam Sewa Gurdwara
  • Project Dana (Barbara Brennan, Buddhist Minister)
  • Shepherd of the Hills United Church of Christ (Rev. Rock Fremont Jr.)
  • Religious Freedom Center, Freedom Forum Institute (Kristen Farrington, Director)
  • Sikh Dharma of Phoenix
  • Tempe Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Uri L’Tzedek: Jewish Orthodox Social Justice
  • Brianna Spadafora, Elementary Teacher
  • Edward Casper, Soka Gakkai International-USA and Arizona Interfaith Movement member
  • Joseph Murray, Arizona Buddhist Temple
  • Kai Umeda, Arizona Buddhist Temple
  • Kathy Ikeda, Arizona Buddhist Temple
  • Lisa Hobson, Retired Elementary Schools Teacher and Administrator Mirian Weisman, ADL
  • Sue Lynn Stiner, Retired International Educator William Reimers, World History Teacher
  • Lorie Miller
  • Angelina Ghrist
  • Anne Taylor