Virginia Board of Education Vote Updates and Revises History Standards - HAF says Changes to Hinduism and Ancient India Positive

Richmond, VA (March 26, 2015) - The Virginia Board of Education voted to approve new history and social science standards Thursday, including one that changes the way Hinduism and the history of ancient India will be taught in public schools.

The Board’s vote paved the way for a new curriculum frameworks revision in the state and subsequent textbook adoption. The standards are the blueprint upon which curriculum frameworks are built. Together, they determine both the contents of public school textbooks and what the state’s over 1 million public school students will be required to learn about history. With the standards vote completed, the curriculum framework revision is set to begin immediately.

“The Department of Education staff and the Board of Education have taken a step in the right direction, putting accuracy first for Virginia students,” said Murali Balaji, Ph.D., Hindu American Foundation (HAF) education director. “And the progress made today would not have been possible without the efforts of those who worked diligently to change the curriculum frameworks nearly a decade ago.”

The change in the standards reflects the culmination of a decade-long effort by Hindu Virginians, including individuals and community organizations, as well as educators and academics, for more accurate standards in learning about India and Hinduism. HAF contended that the old standards did not accurately convey information about Hinduism, nor the extent of the current academic debate regarding the origins of ancient Indians. At Thursday’s Board meeting, several Board members agreed, noting that the revised standards needed to reflect current scholarship.

Previously, World History Standards pertaining to Ancient India and Hinduism read:

  • 4b. describing India, with emphasis on caste system and Aryan migrations;
  • 4c. describing the origins, beliefs, traditions, customs, and spread of Hinduism; (no change)

Standard 4b now reads:

  • 4b. locating India in time and place, including its origins, and early development and the debate over the Aryan migrations;

“Today’s vote lays an improved foundation for students to learn about history more accurately and critically,” noted Suhag Shukla, Esq., HAF’s Executive Director. “They will now understand that the study of history is a process and that what we know or assume about the past today is always growing and changing.”

HAF worked with the Department of Education on language for the new standards, with Dr. Balaji submitting testimony at three Board of Education meetings and several public hearings over the past year. Previously, HAF participated in the state’s 2008 curriculum frameworks adoption process. Balaji noted the Foundation’s continued commitment to helping Virginia improve and modernize how ancient India and Hinduism are taught through the frameworks process.

To view the full revised standards, please click here.