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To: Rajeev Srinivasan <firstname.lastname@example.org >
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, February 15, 2006: The "Committee of the State Board of Education On 2005 History-Social Science Primary Adoption" has scheduled a public meeting for February 27 at the Department's headquarters in Sacramento. This meeting is to "To consider edits and corrections, and any errors, objections, and comments, for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade primary adoption of history-social science instructional materials, and to make recommendations to the Board." The meeting is the next step in the on-going saga of the California textbook adoption process. Hindus have been actively attempting to get changes made to the Hinduism sections of the proposed books where they are inaccurate or not in accord with the California Standards which require each religion to be described respectfully.
The latest list of "edits," as the proposed changes are called, is given at "source." This is the list the committee will discuss. One column of the document indicates if the Board staff endorse the edit or not. It includes edits from the Board's own staff, the Council on Islamic Education, the Institute for Curriculum Services (Jewish), the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation. Of the 53 staff edits, all are recommended for adoption; of the 94 Islamic edits, all are recommended; of the 186 Jewish edits, all are recommended with the exception of three minor rejections and two major ones. For Hindus, on the other hand, only 60 of the original 152 edits were approved as is, the remaining ones subject to various revisions or outright rejection. By HPI's count, about 26 of the unaccepted edits remain important issues. This list of edits appears to be the result of the closed door meeting of January 6 by members of the Board with Dr. Shiva Bajpai and Dr. Michael Witzel (see here).
The remaining important unaccepted edits fall mostly into three categories. First is the origins of Hinduism as resulting from an Aryan invasion or migration in ancient times versus the Hindu view that Hinduism is indigenous to India. Second is the presentation of caste as an integral, even key central feature of Hinduism, as opposed to its treatment as a social system. On these two issues, most non-Hindu Western academics such as Dr. Witzel take the first point of view and Hindu academics (and some non-Hindu ones, too) take the second. The third is the identity of the Hindu concept of "Brahman" with "God" (capital G), with the Western academics arguing the Hindu concept is not "monotheistic," and therefore not supposed to be capital G. Probably the best Hindus could hope for is to get in the texts that an alternative point of view exists on each of these issues.
There remain a few notable uncorrected errors. For example, edit 74 of the Vedic Foundation, objected to this inadequate definition, "Yoga is a type of ... slow breathing," but no correction was allowed.