(NewsNation) — Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are launching a probe after a new report revealed public schools across the U.S. have received more than $17 million in funding from the Chinese Communist Party through culture and language programs.
Parents Defending Education calls them “little red classrooms,” and says the CCP funds them through “Confucius Institutes” over the past 14 years.
These institutes say it is their goal to “teach language and culture,” but Parents Defending Education claims their purpose is to further the communist party’s global influence.
“Xi Jinping believes that China will not be stopped from imposing its will and ideology onto American citizens,” former intelligence officer Matt Shoemaker said. “It provides an opportunity for the teachers or those who work with them to spot who might be a good candidate down the road, or who might be sympathetic to their cause, and try and shape the next generation that way.”
The Confucius Institute programs have been traced to around 143 school districts across 34 states.
These programs have been a concern for U.S. lawmakers for years. Under former President Donald Trump’s administration, the State Department designated Confucius Institutes a “foreign mission.”
Shoemaker says while many of these programs have shut down in recent years, infiltrating K-12 schools appears to be a new tactic from the CCP.
“The Chinese seem to have then changed the parameters of the debate and moved on towards grade schools in particular,” Shoemaker said. “It tells me that the Chinese are incredibly resourceful in what they’re doing. And they seem to have a real keen interest in going after schools to try and shape the next generation of Americans.”
Perhaps the most concerning to Shoemaker is the threat to our national security, with 20 of the school districts receiving this funding being located near U.S. military bases.
“China can spot and assess whose parents might work at these military bases to begin a process to try and get information from these facilities,” Shoemaker said.
Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana is now urging the Department of Education to take action, sending a letter to Secretary Miguel Cardona saying these programs “have no place in our country, let alone our classrooms.”
In the letter, Banks also demanded a full audit of all the K-12 funding across the country.
Shoemaker tells NewsNation it is time for parents and school officials to get involved as the federal government investigates these programs.
“I would absolutely love to see parents getting more involved and demanding answers for who was the one that determined who in that school board thought that this was a good idea and allowed this to happen?” Shoemaker asked.
He also added, “From a larger perspective, is that this is a campaign for information. And it’s going to come from Washington from the high-level officials to publicly push back because, without the public pushback, the Chinese are just going to keep pushing forward. All speed ahead.”
CCP’s efforts to invest in schools are just one example of initiatives that are raising red flags for lawmakers, who are also investigating China’s efforts to buy American farmland near military bases.