Our partner organization, Parents Defending Education, released an investigation on July 26 into Chinese government ties to American K-12 schools. 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.
PDE Action respectfully requests investigations into ties between public schools and Chinese government sponsored programs, such as Confucius Classrooms. While it’s vital for American students to have opportunities to learn world languages and cultures, schools should not give the Chinese government unfettered access to K-12 classrooms. This has the potential of posing significant security risks to students, families, and our national interests.
Through its Ministry of Education, the Chinese government’s ties to American K-12 schools is one facet of the Chinese Communist Party’s larger soft-power effort to influence policies in nations throughout the world. According to the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, developing its Confucius Classroom network in the United States is a top priority for the Chinese government. They openly acknowledge this is a way to advance their strategic goals around the world. In a Chinese state media article from 2016, the Chinese Communist Party “lauded” Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms for promoting its Belt and Road Initiative.
In several cases, Parents Defending Education found that university Confucius Institutes provided the foundation for Confucius Classrooms at nearby school districts. In 2020, the State Department designated Confucius Institutes—the university counterpart of Confucius Classrooms—a “foreign mission” of the Chinese Communist Party. As Parents Defending Education notes in its report: “Confucius Institutes are funded in part by the Chinese government under guidance from the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, ‘the Chinese Communist Party’s overseas propaganda and influence operation.’” Li Changchun, the former chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, in 2009 boasted that Confucius Institutes are “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.”
PDE Action hopes you will take this opportunity to audit schools’ ties to the Chinese government—which is inseparable from the Chinese Communist Party. American students should not be subjected to Chinese Communist Party propaganda under the guise of Chinese language and culture programming.
PDE Action wrote to Governors Katie Hobbs of Arizona, Gavin Newsom of California, Jared Polis of Colorado, Ned Lamont of Connecticut, John Carney of Delaware, Ron DeSantis of Florida, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, Wes Moore of Maryland, Janet Mills of Maine, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Joe Lombardo of Nevada, Kathy Hochul of New York, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Tina Kotek of Oregon, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, Daniel McKee of Rhode Island, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Greg Abbott of Texas, Spencer Cox of Utah, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Phil Scott of Vermont, Jay Inslee of Washington, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Jim Justice of West Virginia, Mark Gordon of Wyoming as well as Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington DC.