Last Wednesday, the Education and State departments in DC announced that it was time to clamp down on Chinese influence in US classrooms.
The letter, which appears over the signatures of Betsy DeVos and Mike Pompeo, addresses the issue of the Confucius Classroom program. The program is a cultural outreach of the Chinese government; it has been around for a while and has always been viewed with suspicion in many quarters. From Associated Press coverage:DeVos and Pompeo echoed longstanding complaints from academic groups that say schools give China too much control over what’s taught in Confucius Institute classes. Teachers who are vetted and paid by the Chinese government “can be expected to avoid discussing China’s treatment of dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities,” the officials wrote.
While teachers in Confucius Classrooms may not appear to be engaged in ideological propaganda, those vetted and paid by the PRC can be expected to avoid discussing China’s treatment of dissidents and religious and ethnic minorities. Indeed, some Confucius Classroom students have described their teachers’ repeated avoidance of topics perceived to be “sensitive” to or critical of the PRC. Particularly at the high school level, this creates a troubling deficit of information in a setting supposedly focused on the study of Chinese language and culture.