HEF’s Response To Last Minute Alarmism By Fringe Hinduphobic Group ‘South Asian Histories For All’

A fringe hinduphobic group named ‘South Asian Histories For All’ (SAHFA) tried to derail the textbook adoption process by writing a last-minute alarmist letter to the California’s State Board of Education alleging among other things that the framework was not being followed and that histories of Dalits, Sikhs and Muslims were being erased. Incredibly the fringe group’s letter asks for the deletion of a whole section on Hinduism while accusing others of erasing history. It does not give any evidence to its allegations that others were erasing history. Activists of the fringe group also tried to create a ruckus at the board meeting alleging that they were being assaulted and were not allowed to speak. In fact, many of SAHFA members spoke twice violating the board’s procedure on public testimonies which allows a person to only speak once. They also got into verbal fights and made allegations against California Department of Education’s (CDE) staff and security officials.

Read also the letter by Hindu American Foundation’s legal team to the CDE.

SAHFA’s alarmist claims and false allegations failed to deter the board which stayed on course with the agenda. Hindu Education Foundation USA (HEF) did a quick analysis of the revisions submitted by SAHFA and submitted the analysis to the board on November 9th when the meeting started. We believe that this helped the board take a decision against SAHFA’s changes.

Contrary to SAHFA’s propaganda, we found that the changes that they had suggested were completely violative of California’s laws and procedures, especially the History Social Science (HSS) Framework document which serves as the guide for preparing the textbooks and California’s codes for Social Content. HEF presented these findings to the Board and commended the board for not giving in to the last minute alarmist propaganda of the fringe hinduphobic groups. Here is HEF’s letter and the details. Below is the summary. A more detailed response to their other allegations is forthcoming.

Summary

  1. In 32 of the 43 proposed revisions that SAHFA has suggested, the original text from the textbook drafts complies with what is mandated by the HSS Framework. In most cases, the text is nearly identical to what is mandated by the Framework document, while in others, the text is clearly included in order to comply with the Framework. SAHFA appears to be seeking deletions and/or modifications of text that conforms with the Framework, thereby leading to potential violations of Category 1.2 and 1.12 of the HSS adoption criteria. In the table below, we have quoted the text from the HSS Framework (adopted by the State Board of Education on July 14, 2016), along with the page and line numbers for your reference.
  2. Two changes are based on old revisions of textbooks drafts, and are thus moot, as either the publishers and/or the Instructional Quality Commission have changed the text.
  3. None of the edits cite any scholarly references. 
  4. Many of SAHFA’s suggestions adversely reflect upon Hinduism,  thereby placing several textbook drafts in jeopardy of violating  Category 1.10 of the HSS adoption criteria and the Social Content citations. 
  5. Given SAHFA’s contentions about the erasure of history, it is indeed ironic that nine of the total 43 edits call for deletions of content from the textbook drafts. They even suggest the deletion of significant portions of the section on Hinduism in one of the textbooks. 
  6. While they claim to talk for the “lower castes”, we do not see in their edits any suggestion to add the cultural or religious contributions of “lower castes”. It is rather because of the efforts of HEF that Hindu sages and saints from so-called “lower castes” were included in the framework in 2016.

We are glad that State Board of Education (SBE) took our plea into consideration, stayed on course with its agenda and rejected the hinduphobic revisions by SAHFA.

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