A newly released report by the advocacy non-profit Parents Defending Education has illuminated the growing infiltration of U.S. K-12 schools by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda through a program known as “Confucius Classrooms.” The report reveals the existence or past existence of at least 143 such programs in K-12 schools, signaling an overt push of communist ideologies and influence into the U.S. educational system.
Confucius Classrooms, which teach Chinese language and culture, have come under scrutiny for their alleged links to the CCP. The program purportedly creates a partnership between a U.S. school and a Chinese government entity. This has sparked anxiety about the CCP’s long-term intentions, which critics suggest could be a clandestine plan to weaken the United States from within.
Some of the most notable affiliations include three of the nation’s leading science and technology high schools and school districts near 20 U.S. military bases. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia., for instance, received over $1 million in aid from Chinese government-linked entities over a decade.
From 2009 to 2023, almost $18 million in Chinese government funding was funneled into U.S. K-12 schools through the program, according to Parents Defending Education. The organization’s president, Nicki Neily, voiced her concern, not about the teaching of Chinese language and culture per se, but about the underlying motives of the CCP and its influence on American schools.
Neily’s apprehension is grounded in the idea that funding and teaching should be transparent, especially when originating from a potentially adversarial nation. She expressed worry over the level of control the Chinese government may exert over the curriculum and teachers involved in these programs, pointing out that such teachers are unlikely to be able to operate outside the Communist Party’s ideological framework.
The Chinese government has been quite candid about its intentions with the Confucius program. Former CCP Senior Chairman Li Changchun stated in 2009 that Confucius Institutes are an integral part of China’s overseas propaganda apparatus.
Neily and her organization have taken action, reaching out to state governors, Senate, and House committees, urging them to launch investigations into the Confucius programs.
Gordon Chang, distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and author of “The Great U.S.-China Tech War,” shares Neily’s worries. He stated that the Confucius education programs, although officially overseen by China’s Ministry of Education, are actually controlled by the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, implying their aim to subtly undermine the United States.
In light of the recent surge in young Chinese males of military age attempting to enter the United States via the southern border and the discovery of an unauthorized Chinese laboratory in Fresno, California, Chang strongly advocates that the United States should “[r]emove every Confucius Institute, every Confucius Classroom, close the remaining four consulates, strip the embassy staff in Washington just down to the ambassador, close the Chinese state banks and enterprises. Get the Chinese regime out of America because they’re winning, and we’re losing our country.”