Parents group warns of Chinese Communist Party influence in American K-12 schools

Ethnic Uyghur members of the Communist Party of China carry a flag past a billboard of Chinese President Xi Jinping as they take part in an organized tour on June 30, 2017, in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province, China. Kashgar has long been considered the cultural heart of Xinjiang for the province's nearly 10 million Muslim Uyghurs. | Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

A Chinese Communist Party-sponsored program remains active in several schools throughout the United States, according to a national grassroots organization dedicated to defending parental rights in the classroom. 

In a Wednesday report titled "Little Red Classrooms" submitted to policymakers nationwide, Parents Defending Education highlighted contracts detailing Chinese government-backed programs known as Confucius Institutes and its K-12 programming, Confucius Classrooms.

PDE contends these centers teach Chinese language and culture, establishing a connection between American K-12 schools, universities and the Chinese Communist Party. 

"Further research reveals the People's Republic of China fostered relationships with American K-12 schools through grants, sister school partnerships, and other programming since at least 2009," the statement reads.  

"Parents Defending Education tracked affiliations in 143 schools across 34 states and Washington, D.C. — and at least seven are still active."

Citing a report from the conservative education advocacy organization National Association of Scholars, PDE warns there are 13 Confucius Institutes still in operation while 108 have or are in the process of closing.

The program is still active in Cloverport Independent School District in Kentucky, Minnetonka Public Schools and St. Cloud Area School District in Minnesota, Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma, Sisters School District in Oregon, Highland Park Independent School District in Texas and Seattle Public Schools in Washington. 

Three of these schools with ties to the Chinese government-affiliated programs are considered the top science and technology high schools in the nation, according to Parents Defending Education. The group also warned that the Chinese Communist Party had had ties to school districts near 20 U.S. military bases.

According to PDE, Chinese state media has boasted about how Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms enable the CCP to further its "global influence."

School districts typically receive funding and grants by partnering with Confucius Institutes from nearby universities, a contract that comes with some additional perks, including opportunities for American students to study in China, PDE warns. 

The group also cited a U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee investigation, which found that the Chinese government has made expanding Confucius Classrooms a priority, as this appears to be part of a strategy to influence the policies of nations worldwide.

"The allure of Chinese language and culture programs have led American K-12 schools to forge ties with one of the United States' biggest foreign adversaries," Parents Defending Education stated. "While it's important to provide students access to Chinese language and culture programs in schools, American schools should not give the Chinese Communist Party unfettered access to our students." 

As The Christian Post reported earlier this month, a recent discussion hosted by the conservative policy think tank, the Hudson Institute, warned that China targets CCP critics and Western freedoms in the United States and other countries. 

Nina Shea, a human rights attorney and director of the institute's Center for Religious Freedom, moderated the discussion. The panel's participants consisted of Levi Browde, executive director of the Falun Dafa Information Center; Olivia Enos, Washington director of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation; Ian Oxnevad, senior fellow for foreign affairs and security studies at the National Association of Scholars; and Ying Chen, conductor with Shen Yun Performing Arts.

During the event, Oxnevad spoke on Confucius Institutes and how they often help promote CCP propaganda.

At the end of the discussion, Oxnevad suggested that colleges and universities could eliminate CCP's presence from campus by enforcing Sec. 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which contains reporting requirements for foreign gifts. He also proposed a ratio funding policy that would make universities less eligible for American taxpayer money for every foreign dollar source.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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