Introduction and Brief of California Textbook Issue
By now, many of you are familiar with the efforts of Hindu groups to improve the portrayal of Hinduism in public school textbooks up for adoption in the State of California. Increasingly, local and national media outlets are covering this developing story. As you may know, a noble effort by Hindu parents has been drawn into an ugly controversy due to the efforts of a small minority of academics with no expertise in Hinduism and South Asian groups aligned with communist and other radical ideologies.
The textbook adoption process has far-reaching implications. First, the books adopted in California will be used in classrooms until 2013. Second, publishers generally abide by the results of the State of California school textbook edit process. And third, many states follow the lead of California, the most populous state in the union. As such, the decisions made in California, will likely affect public schools across the U.S.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) retained Olson, Hagal and Fishburn LLP of Sacramento, CA when it became clear that the California Department of Education and its State Board of Education were changing criteria and improvising its process in dealing with proposed Hindu edits and corrections. To help our supporters better understand the process and events leading up to retaining legal representation, we have prepared a summary of events. It has also become increasingly evident that most have not had an opportunity to view the original portrayal of Hinduism as it is presented in the textbooks books up for adoption; what specific edits and corrections have been suggested by the two participating Hindu groups; which of these proposed edits and corrections were originally approved by an advisory board to the California State Board of Education; and how opponents of the Hindu efforts would have Hinduism portrayed. We have provided a summary of events and summary of textbook changes.
The Foundation has filed suit based on the procedural violations of the California State Board of Education that have led to edits and changes in the textbook which still fail to bring the sections on Hinduism to the standards set forth by the California Department of Education Code § 51501 and § 60044. The Education Code mandates that no textbook or other instructional materials shall be adopted by the state board for use in the public schools which contains any matter reflecting adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. To help Hindu Americans garner an accurate and equittable representation of their faith in school text books, please join us in our efforts by contributing to our Legal Defense and Education Fund Drive.