I regularly read Washington's free weekly, The Northwest Current, which often covers notable local news completely missed by the Post and the Times.
Sometimes there even appears an item of much wider import.
Such as this week's story headlined: "Confucius grant lets Hardy offer new Chinese program."
Patricia Pride, principal of Hardy Middle School, has long wanted to bring a Chinese language program to her students.
That goal is now on track to become reality in the 2016-2017 school year, thanks to a new partnership with George Mason University's Confucius Institute, a program that funds Chinese language and culture programs at schools across the country.
Let's pause for a moment to decode.
Hardy is a D.C. public school on the northern edge of Georgetown. It is surrounded by affluent families who mainly do not send their children there. As of 2014, only 11 percent of the children were in-boundary, only 7 percent were white, and 56 percent qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.
Without entering the race wars over D.C. "neighborhood" schools, it is not far-fetched to imagine that a principal might consider that a Chinese program -- besides, of course, enriching the education of middle-schoolers no doubt grounded in the intricacies of their own language -- is a matter of bragging rights. The best local private schools offer Chinese in middle school, but at a cost of $38,000 a head. If Chinese is "free," though ....
Or so the wheels turn, maybe.
Back to the story:
Hardy's application was developed by Jonathan Jou, a friend and colleague of Pride's who moved to the U.S. as a teenager and now teaches English as a second language. [He also teaches Chinese.] The approved proposal includes instilling in the current middle school curriculum a reverence for Chinese cultural traditions, partnering with feeder elementary schools and Wilson High School to make the program a broader educational effort, and hiring a new Chinese teacher who is also a native speaker.
You don't have to read between any of the lines to see what is developing. The D.C. public schools are being penetrated via an "educational" program, the Confucius Institute, which is directed and funded by Communist China. Out of the goodness of their hearts? No, to advance an array of Communist Chinese objectives, including influence and propaganda.
How? That cat is now out of this bag. In late 2013 and 2014, associations of university professors in Canada and the U.S. urged institutions of higher learning to sever ties with Confucius Institutes; few have heeded their warnings, however.
University of Chicago emeritus professor Marshall Sahlins explained how CIs work in an important expose published by The Nation in 2013. Confucius Institutes do not function as stand-alone institutes outside university precincts, such as Alliance Francaise. Rather, they [exist] as a virtually autonomous unit within the regular curriculum of the host school." More important, he writes, "CIs are managed by a foreign government, and accordingly are responsive to its politics."
The world got a raw look at this side of the Confucius Institute when, during a summer 2014 meeting in Portugal of the European Association for Chinese Studies, Vice Minister Xu Lin, director general of both the Hanban, the People's Republic ministry dedicated to teaching Chinese aboad, and the Confucius Institute, confiscated hundreds of conference programs and ordered staff to rip out four pages,including the fronticepiece, because they referred to Taiwanese institutions, including one that has co-sponsored the conference for 20 years.
You can watch Xu Lin try to explain this, among other things, to BBC reporter John Sudworth above. (Xu Lin: "No, no, I think you shouldn't ask this question. Why? Because Taiwan issue is our own issue. Is China issue. Is not foreign people's issue..." She then complains that Sudworth didn't inform her in advance about this question, and tells him he should eliminate this part of the interview.)
But bad publicity hasn't made a dent. There are some 400 Confucius Institutes around the world, with close to 100 units on US college campuses, and some 600 "Confucius classrooms" in secondary and elementary schools.
Now, one at little Hardy.
The institute is providing $20,000 in start-up costs and an additional $15,000 to $30,000 in annual operating funds. These sums will pay for textbooks and classroom resources as well as curriculum updates on Chinese cultural traditions, but they won't cover a full-time teacher. Pride and her staff are instead working with the Hanban Chinese Teacher program, which will bring an instructor from China, once his or her visa application is approved.
No doubt handpicked by Hanban honcho Xu Lin.
Plans are also in the works to send several Hardy teachers to China this summer to acquire firsthand experience in a nation they'll be expected to understand come next school year....
Perfect. Welcome to 2016, The School Year of the Influence Operation.
Giant Red Chinese influence ops aside, will American students benefit from learning Chinese?
Here is the kicker: they're not even learning "real" Chinese. Marshall Sahlins explains:
Tthe Confucius Institutes teaches the simplified script officially promulgated by the PRC as a more easily learned alternative to the traditional characters in which everything was written in China for thousands of years, and in which much that is not to the liking of the regime continues to be written in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the many other Chinese communities beyond Beijing’s direct control.
In a richly detailed exposé of the politics of the mandatory language rule, Michael Churchman has observed that instruction exclusively in Standard Chinese Characters would create a global distribution of scholars only semi-literate in Chinese. Native Chinese speakers with knowledge of the relevant context and some prior exposure to the traditional script may be more or less capable of deciphering it, but not foreign students who learn the language at college age. Unable to read the classics except in versions translated and interpreted in the PRC, cut off from the dissident and popular literature of other Chinese communities, students in CI courses cannot even access “the large and growing corpus of material on Communist Party history, infighting, and factionalism written by mainlanders but published exclusively in Hong Kong and Taiwan,” Churchman argues. Rather, they are subject to the same policies of language standardization (Mandarin) and literacy (simplified characters) by which the regime seeks to control what can and cannot be discussed in China.
The Confucius Institute isn't about education; it's about mind-control. These PRC penetration units have no business on any American school or campus -- and especially not in the nation's capital.