A congressional hearing sounded the alarm about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) using Mandarin language programs to spread communist ideology and grow its soft power in America’s K-12 classrooms.
“[The CCP] are not paying for these books because they want us to learn,” Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said at the Tuesday hearing organized by the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education under the House Education Committee.
“We should learn Mandarin. I studied Mandarin myself and Japanese and Korean. This is not what this is about. This is about a foreign party, a Communist Party-run country that is trying to influence how we think and how we act,” he added.
Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education (PDE), a parent activist group, urged lawmakers to create a law to mandate foreign investment disclosure in K-12 schools, a requirement currently applicable to higher education institutes only. She further recommended a minimum disclosure threshold of $10,000, much lower than the $250,000 required for colleges.
“Families deserve information about foreign funding in schools so they can determine whether such programs comport with their values; such oversight is required at the university level but not in K-12 schools, which can hopefully be a point of agreement between the two parties going forward,” she added.
Her comments partly attempted to address criticism from Democratic lawmakers. Committee ranking member Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said the hearing wasn’t a good use of time 11 days before a potential government shutdown. Further, he accused committee Republicans of “injecting divisive partisan politics in our children’s classrooms” and promoting “conspiracy theories and dubious research.”
Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) also said that her daughter studied Chinese in China, and she didn’t worry a bit that the CCP’s influence would turn her daughter into a communist or a foreign agent.
After the hearing, Mr. Gonzalez told The Epoch Times: “It was baffling to hear elected members of Congress carrying water for the CCP, calling its intrusion into the education of American students through Confucius Institutes and Classrooms ‘alleged foreign interference.’”