The infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party into America’s education system, specifically into public grade schools, has sparked outrage from small towns to Capitol Hill.
Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, addressed the House Education Committee on Tuesday about this alarming issue to lay out her organization’s investigative work to expose the CCP’s invasive actions.
Parents Defending Education has been at the forefront, consistently unearthing evidence of China’s interference in the American public education system. Neily urged congressional lawmakers to act immediately, saying the threat also is a matter of national security.
The CCP’s influence in American classrooms is pervasive and deeply ingrained. The Chinese government’s connection with K-12 schools in the United States materializes in the form of funding, teacher exchanges, and pro-communist curriculum.
Such programs often are presented under the guise of cultural exchange or language learning opportunities, making them seem innocuous. However, the underlying intent is to advance the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda and indoctrinate American students with its ideology.
Programs called Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms are among the main vehicles for the CCP’s infiltration of American schools, and they operate in both secondary and higher education. These institutions, funded by the Chinese government, aim to teach Chinese language and culture. However, critics say they are a tool for spreading Chinese propaganda and restricting academic freedom.
Neily pointed out the disturbing nature of the Confucius programs in her testimony before the House Committee on Education, saying:
What this might look like in practice, however, is troubling: In the 2017 documentary ‘In the Name of Confucius,’ a student at the University of Michigan sings an opera at a Confucius Institute concert about how Chairman Mao [Zedong] ‘nurture[s] the people on this land’—no small slap in the face to the families of the estimated 23-40 million Chinese citizens who died on Zedong’s watch during the Great China Famine.
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars since 2009, told my Daily Signal colleague Samantha Aschieris that following sharp criticism of the pro-communist content coming out of the Confucius programs, China and school districts have begun changing the names of the programs to avoid detection.
“The institutes had an institutional structure that made them fairly easy to spot,” Wood said of the Chinese programs, adding:
The Confucius Classrooms don’t have a single name for them. They go under many different names, and the schools that have them are being very cagey about what they are and what they’re doing.
The CCP’s influence isn’t limited to “regular” public schools. It has made its way into some of the top science and technology high schools in the country.
Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and Kentucky’s Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science have received millions from the Chinese government. These affiliations allow the Chinese government to influence the curriculum and teaching methodologies in these prestigious institutions.
Neily referenced interviews with former school officials who recalled that Chinese donors sought access to “look under the hood” at “floor plans, lesson plans, and student research projects—some of which were completed in conjunction with federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.”
Communist China’s influence in American schools is tied closely to its global Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to enhance China’s global influence through policy infrastructure, technology, and education grants, loans, and “staff exchanges.” Confucius Institutes and Classrooms have been lauded as vital forces for international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Teacher exchange programs via China’s various “influence initiatives” place Chinese nationals in American classrooms to instill Maoist ideology in students.
This isn’t a far-fetched accusation or baseless conjecture. Beijing openly admits in teacher seminars that this process is expected of all Chinese nationals in U.S. classrooms.
Neily appeared to trouble members of the House Education Committee with detailed accounts of Chinese nationals who overtly shoved CCP ideology into public schools in Delaware, Virginia, and Kentucky.
Research by Parents Defending Education, or PDE, also shows a greater concentration of “staff exchanges” involving Chinese nationals near U.S. military installations, Neily said, possibly giving the CCP “access to data about the children of military personnel.”
Neily requested that Congress begin immediate investigations into China’s education initiatives in America. She suggested that “it would be a constructive use of the FBI’s investigative power to research China’s influence in American education, so that action can be taken to monitor programs still in existence and perhaps determine the extent of the damage that has been wrought to date.”
She then quipped:
This seems like it might be a better use of the bureau’s finite resources than investigating school board parents, which to this day remains part of its purview because Attorney General [Merrick] Garland’s Oct. 4, 2021, memo on that topic has never been retracted, and accordingly, remains in effect.
PDE’s work on Confucius Classrooms shows a pattern and practice of foreign involvement in school systems across our country. We believe formal investigations into the scope and impact of these programs at the local, state, and federal level are acutely needed—and we hope policymakers will rise to the occasion. Vigilance and transparency are critical, and we will continue to both monitor and investigate leads that are sent to our team.
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