Virginia Secretary of Education Aimee Rogstad Guidera directed a top public high school in the United States to stop accepting financial contributions from entities with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Grassroots parental advocacy organization Parents Defending Education (PDE) reported that, on March 9, Guidera wrote to Dr. Michelle Reid, superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), following PDE’s report that Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST) and the school’s Partnership Fund (Fund) had “received over $1,000,000 worth of donations from Chinese interests since 2014.”
In Virginia’s largest school district, Parents Defending Education found Fairfax County Public Schools’ Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Partnership Fund received more than $1 million of donations from Chinese interests since 2014.https://t.co/ElehLhwoAG
— 7News DC (@7NewsDC) March 9, 2023
“On Day 1 of his administration, Governor Youngkin signed Executive Order One which solidified our commitment to banning political indoctrination in our children’s classrooms and emphasized teaching our children the value of freedom of thought and diversity of ideas,” Guidera wrote to Reid, adding the news that TJHSST and its Partnership Fund “have accepted significant financial contributions from entities known to have connections with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) raises significant concerns regarding these principles.”
Guidera requested the following information from Reid:
- Since the commencement of the Fund, how much money was accepted from CCP-linked entities?
- For what purposes have the funds from CCP-linked entities been used?
- Have any of the CCP-linked entities that contributed to the Fund provided any guidance, influence or instructional materials related to content taught at TJHSST?
- Were any instructional materials, class schedules, and individual performance or evaluation indicators provided to these CCP-linked entities?
- Was any non-public student information, individual or in aggregate, provided to the CCP-linked entities?
Guidera then requested that Reid “direct schools within your division to cut ties with CCP-linked partners.”
“Furthermore, I have asked the Virginia Department of Education to investigate the prevalence of such relationships between CCP-linked partners and local school divisions across the Commonwealth,” the secretary added, noting she was awaiting a response from Reid.
The letter from Youngkin’s office comes a week after PDE helped expose the ties between TJHSST and the CCP and requested the governor and Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares investigate the relationship.
The documents unearthed by PDE, which can be viewed here, show TJHSST Partnership Fund “received funding amounts of $500,000+ from Shirble HK, and $250,000+ from Tsinghua University (Beijing) and the Ameson Foundation, respectively.”
Tsinghua University contributed $300,000 to the TJHSST Partnership Fund’s capital campaign in Fiscal Year 2013-2014, according to a 2014 newsletter by the Partnership Fund which frames the bond between TJHSST and the Chinese school as allowing “TJ to share best practices to assist them as they … develop their own STEM models.”
“These relationships help to fulfill a long-term goal of the school, that of sharing TJ’s uniquely successful approach to teaching science and technology with other schools in order to expand educational opportunities for students, no matter where they reside,” the newsletter said.
The Partnership Fund also added that “Chinese educators, concerned that their educational system’s emphasis on speed and memorization over discussion and debate may not produce tomorrow’s most successful students, are increasingly eager to adopt the best instructional models from abroad.”
“The Chinese Communist Party, they’re not our friends, they are enemies of freedom,” Alex Nester, a PDE investigative fellow told WJLA News. “They are enemies of everything that we stand for in the United States. And what better way to influence the future diplomats and leaders of this country than to get into schools and start influencing the young minds, the best and brightest.”
PDE President Nicole Neily expressed gratitude to Youngkin and Guidera for quickly investigating the “scope of this scandal – not only at TJ, but throughout the Commonwealth.”
“This incident highlights the acute need for federal lawmakers to address this problem going forward, and to mandate disclosure of foreign funding to America’s K-12 schools,” she added.
In late January, Representative Mike Waltz (R-FL-06) warned companies with ties to the CCP are purchasing private schools with junior ROTC programs and military academies in the United States.
“It’s incredibly concerning that there are American private schools owned by companies with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” said Waltz in a press statement. “From Florida to New York, there is clear evidence that the ownership of these schools are linked to our greatest adversary and it’s ridiculous that we are developing potential future military leaders through JROTC programs where the CCP could be shaping school curriculum and activities.”
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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Background Photo “Thomas Jefferson High School” by Thomas Jefferson High School.