An investigation conducted by our partner organization, Parents Defending Education (PDE), exposed how millions of dollars of China-linked funding has flowed into America’s K-12 classrooms. Through records requests and publicly available information, it was discovered that 143 school districts across the United States have engaged in contracts to establish Confucius Institutes and Classrooms, including in three of the nation’s top science and technology high schools.
Considering China’s adversarial relationship with the United States, this poses significant security risks that warrant immediate attention. The Chinese government has long touted their Confucius programming 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.
Security concerns with these China-led courses in America’s schools are well documented. In 2020, Confucius Institutes were deemed a “foreign mission” by the State Department. The Chinese Communist Party has been exploiting these connections to America’s education system to shape Americans’ perception of China. This access also presents vulnerabilities that could compromise student information and give unfettered access to our curriculums. Through these established programming, in some instances China was also given access to vet and oversee the classes taking place in our classrooms.
We find these programs deeply concerning and believe American families deserve full transparency on foreign resources used to fund their children’s education.
PDE Action wrote to Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia, Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, Senator James Risch of Idaho, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Congressman Mike Rogers of Alabama, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Congressman Adam Smith of Washington.
We urge these members of congress to investigate this issue further, specifically to provide oversight, hold hearings, and call on the federal government to implement necessary measures to protect Americans from these security risks and foreign influence.