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Parental Rights Organization Warns China Has Influence in K-12 U.S. Schools


On Thursday, the grassroots organization Parents Defending Education (PDE) released a new detailed report revealing disturbing information about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-financed organizations in American K-12 schools.

According to the "Little Red Classrooms" report, public schools like Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology have had ties to Tsinghua University High School, a high school connected with one of Beijing's top military schools, Tsinghua University.

Public schools like Simpson County in Kentucky agreed with North China Electric Power University to operate Western Kentucky University's Confucius Institute.

According to PDE, the North China Electric Power University works with the CCP government's energy sector to push China's global energy initiatives. From 2020 to 2021, China's International Education Foundation (CIEF) "tasked the university with selecting more than 34 Chinese teachers to send to Simpson County Public Schools."

The PDF report also noted that Chinese nationals who were teachers of Mandarin at Appoquinimink School District in Delaware from 2012 to 2012 underwent a "rigorous selection process" in China, including interviews with CCP government officials at the "nation level."

Findings from the PDE report noted that Confucius Institutes and Classrooms have operated in public schools close to United States military bases, including the US Naval Academy, Buckley Air Force Base and Space Force, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Dover Air Force Base, Fort Bliss, Fort Liberty, Fort Knox, Naval Station Great Lakes, Hanscom Air Force Base, Hill Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, Langley Air Force Base, Los Angeles Air Force Base, MacDill Air Force Base, McGuire Air Force Base, US Coast Guard Academy, Nellis Air Force Base, Naval Station Norfolk, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Naval Base San Diego.

"It is frightening, however, that no such transparency mandate exists at the K-12 level,” said PDE president Nicole Neily.

Neily noted that the Trump administration "took steps to rein in Confucius Institutes at colleges and universities.

She stressed the need for lawmakers at the federal and state levels to take "steps to rein in Confucius Institutes at colleges and universities. It is frightening, however, that no such transparency mandate exists at the K-12 level."

Speaking to The Foreign Desk, Neily said that the "utter lack of transparency about the extent of this issue should deeply concern policymakers at the state and federal level.

Families deserve to know who is teaching their children - and what they are learning - so that parents can make informed decisions about whether they want their child to participate in such a program."

PDE's sister organization, PDE Action, has alerted House lawmakers in the House Education and Workforce Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee about its findings, showcasing the money trail from China into America's K-12 classrooms, where American students were exposed to CCP Propaganda under the cover of Chinese language and culture programs. According to the public records and requests by the House Education and Workforce Committee, around "143 school districts across the US have engaged in contracts to establish Confucius Institutes and Classrooms."

"Through the Higher Education Act, Secretaries DeVos and Pompeo were able to reign in Confucius Institutes at the university level - yet there is no similar requirement for K-12 schools. Furthermore, the HEA threshold of $250,000 is far higher than many of the transactions at the K-12 level - so if or when such legislation is introduced, we hope that it is written in a way that fully captures the scope of this issue," Neily told The Foreign Desk.

Writing to the House Committees, PDE senior adviser Michele P. Exner stated that the Chinese government has promoted its Confucius programs throughout the U.S. to "advance their strategic goals around the world."

"In 2009, former Chinese Communist Party senior chairman Li Changchun admitted that Confucius Institutes were an 'important part of China's overseas propaganda set-up' and in 2017, Chinese government officials lauded the programs as a way to push China's Belt and Road initiative," the Foxx's letter said.

Foxx also noted that the CCP has used Confucius Institutes and Classrooms to "push their agenda in schools around the globe."

In 2016, the CCP praised its Confucius Institute and Classrooms for "promoting its Belt and Road Initiative."

"Security concerns with these China-linked programs became so problematic that the State Department declared them a 'foreign mission' during the summer of 2020," Exner explained.

The PDE findings outlined that "34 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have had schools that have engaged in financial exchanges with the Chinese government or affiliated entities ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than a million dollars per contract."

The organization also noted China's infiltration into college universities like San Diego State University, noting that the San Diego Unified School District contracted with the Confucius Institute.

According to the report, In September of 2016, the San Diego Unified School District paid "$10,000 to the Confucius Institute for Mandarin instructors who would "serve in a supportive role designed to enhance language and cultural experiences of students enrolled in district Mandarin language classes."

PDE Action also wrote to senators and governors in various states, calling on them to investigate connections between public schools and CCP-sponsored programs to prevent Beijing from influencing American students, families, and the country's national interests.

Related Story: China Benefits from Deep Influence at American Universities

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