The influence of the Chinese Communist Party “is rampant in America’s classrooms,” Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., said Tuesday during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
“Over 500 K-12 schools across the United States have allowed the CCP to establish itself in their halls under the guise of Confucius Classrooms,” Bean, chairman of the House Education Committee’s subcommittee on early childhood, elementary, and secondary education, said in his opening statement.
“But when you pull back the curtain on these ‘cultural exchange centers,’ you find a CCP-backed agenda that undermines the principles upon which our education system is built,” Bean said at the outset of the subcommittee hearing titled “Academic Freedom Under Attack: Loosening the CCP’s Grip on America’s Classrooms.”
The Florida Republican added that “[t]he risk posed by the proliferation of Communist Confucius Classrooms is threefold, threatening America’s national, geopolitical, and academic interests.”
Specifically referring to America’s “national security,” Bean noted that “[a] recent report revealed that numerous Confucius Classrooms are strategically located around U.S. military bases.”
“Moreover, it uncovered that elite American secondary schools, like Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, are partnered with Chinese military schools supervised by the Chinese defense industry, like Tsinghua University, to develop academic programming.”
With regard to “academic security,” Bean said, “[e]very dollar that flows into American classrooms from the CCP comes with strings attached, and the most important string is the requirement that instructors censor themselves to appease Beijing.”
“It would be remarkable to even hear four words in a Confucius Classroom: Tibet, Taiwan, Tiananmen Square,” Bean said. “This … censorship stifles academic freedom, which is the cornerstone of our educational system.”
Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., said her “own parents fled from North Korea from communism” and their “stories have impacted me forever.”
Steel asked Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation: “Why must we work hard to protect our kids from influences that come from CCP Confucius Classrooms?” (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)
“This is a foreign political party that … is totalitarian,” Gonzalez replied. “Everywhere … that communism has been tried, it has ended in tyranny with the suppression of people’s rights and economic chaos.”
“What they want to do is influence our children into believing that ‘No, it’s a good system and China’s a normal country that is not tyrannical,'” he said of the Chinese communists. “We cannot allow that to happen.”
Other hearing witnesses were Gisela Perez Kusakawa, executive director of the Asian American Scholar Forum; Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education; and Ryan Walters, Oklahoma state superintendent of public instruction.
“It is well documented that the Chinese Communist Party has been engaged in … a long-standing campaign to infiltrate the American public education system and attempt to poison the minds of our, our nation’s children,” Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., said, adding: “China is not our friend.”
“Look around. They are coming after us educationally, militarily, academically, economically. I mean, turn the news on,” McClain said. “Unless you live under a rock, this is the reality in which we live, and I will not apologize [for acting] to protect our American children. Period. End of conversation. Because that’s what the voters in my district elected me to do.”
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