Board of Education Approves Changes to Diversify Topics Taught in California

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SACRAMENTO -- It's a long time coming - a document, almost 10 years in the making. The Board of Education has passed new guidelines for teaching after an afternoon of discussion.

Education advocates had one last chance to state their case to the State Board of Education, before the board adopts a framework on how history and social science teachers will introduce certain topics to California students.

Hundreds of meetings, dozens of drafts, and 10 thousand comments later, the Instructional Quality Commission or IQC presented their recommendations to the Board. Key topics included Armenian Genocide, World War II, Philippine Campaign and events taking place in India and South Asia.

"There is not even the word 'Sikh' in the curriculum. That is why people are misidentifying Sikh with the Islamic Extremists," Pashaura Singh Dhillon of the Sikh Council of Central CA said.

Some groups fought to keep topics in the framework, such as Judeo-Christianity.

"This is part of our heritage. If you're going to read any of the writings from George Washington, Lincoln, justices, even Martin Luther King Jr. You have to understand our heritage, because they're talking about Judeo-Christianity," teacher, Brenda Lebseck said.

Others hoped to expand on subjects that are discussed minimally in the previous guidelines.

"Most students know about World War II history in Europe. Very few people know about the war history in Asia. The comfort women is a very important chapter of history," retired judge, Lillian Sing said.

"We want students to think about history and in relation to themselves and in terms of geography," Tolteka of Ethnic Studies Now said.

For the first time in its history, this framework will include guidelines on how to teach social issues including the LGBT community.

"In second grade, students will learn about family diversity. That there are all sorts of different kinds of families, and that's part of their reality," Con Romesburg of the Committee on LGBT History said.

The goal is to diversify the quality of education for the students of California.

"We're looking for a document that helps guide history and social science instruction, so that our students have access to the latest research," Bill Ainsworth of the CA State Board of Education said.

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