Several Organizations Pushing Against Diane Douglas' School Standards

Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 10:37am
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 4:09pm
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Anjleen Kaur Gumer (right) and Rev. Larry Fultz.

There has been an ongoing debate over proposed new state education standards since Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas said she wants the State Board of Education to adopt those of conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan, which has connections to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

That move came last month after the state Department of Education spent more than a year gathering input from educators, experts and community members to revise the state’s science, history and computer science standards.

Now, 17 organizations — including faith leaders and teachers — are speaking out against Douglas’s proposed standards and calling on the Board of Education to follow through and approve the revised standards they’ve spent the last year shaping.

One of the groups involved in that process has been the Sikh Coalition, which has worked to advocate for the inclusion of Sikhism — as well as many other minority world religions — in the standards to make them more inclusive.

The Show sat down with Anjleen Kaur Gumer, a Sikh American community leader who has two young children in Arizona public schools and Rev. Larry Fultz, the executive director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement, which signed on in support of these more inclusive standards.

Gumer told us when she found out the board was revising these standards more than a year ago, she asked if she could join their focus group.

The Show also spoke with Superintendent Diane Douglas about this, as she was the one who proposed these standards from Hillsdale College. She told us the way they have rewritten these standards isn’t going to teach much about these religions.

But she agreed that teaching them is essential and should be included more in both versions of the school standards that are up for consideration — including those she introduced.

The State Board of Education is set to vote on the news standards next Monday. 

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