Landmark bill targets hidden foreign funds in schools as officials warn of CCP influence

EXCLUSIVE: A new House bill introduced Friday seeks to mandate that parents be informed of any foreign-sourced or funded curricula as a stipulation of their child’s school receiving federal support.

The subject has grown in significance in recent months as states like Oklahoma have sought to blunt the influence of programs purportedly connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) such as “Confucius Classrooms.”

In Congress, members of the House Education & Workforce Committee put forward the bill Friday afternoon and expect to move it through the legislative process soon, lawmakers involved told Fox News Digital.

The TRACE (Transparency in Reporting of Adversarial Contributions to Education) Act will require schools to allow parents the opportunity to review any curriculum that has been provided by or purchased with foreign funds.


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It will also require that schools notify parents of any foreign contracts or financial transactions they partake in.

The legislation is also intended as a compliment to the Parents Bill of Rights, legislation crafted by Rep. Julia Letlow, R-La. that passed the House in 2023. That legislation would give parents more than a dozen stipulated “rights” that provide more access to and transparency over their child’s daily learning.

Friday’s bill also stipulated parents be notified of how many school employees, if any, are being compensated by another country or “foreign entity of concern” and whether foreign actors have donated to the institution.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., chairs the House Education Committee, and said Friday the TRACE Act will keep parents better informed.

“We know that significant investments from foreign nations are flowing into America’s K-12 schools, possibly impacting decisions regarding personnel or curriculum,” Foxx said.

“As it stands, school administrators are not required to share where their funding comes from. That’s unacceptable.”

Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fla., chief sponsor of the TRACE Act, said U.S. schools are for “education, not espionage” and that parents should be in control.

“We cannot allow our students — the future of our great nation — to be corrupted by foreign adversaries who are systematically and aggressivelyattempting to influence ournation’s K-12 schools,” Bean said.


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“Yet this is what happens when our institutions of learning accept the Trojan Horse of foreign funding. My bill aims to solidify the rights of parents to knowhow foreign influence may be impacting their child’s classroomand deter the ability of foreign nations to reach America’s youth.”

In 2023, Oklahoma’s top elected education official also called for congressional action to blunt foreign influence in schools and pledged to be on the front lines of pushing back against untoward interference in children’s education.

Oklahoma Superintendent of Education Ryan Walters said at the time it is a national security risk to allow foreign influence in U.S. schools, particularly without public or parental knowledge. His comments came after his office investigated a school district that had been utilizing the “Confucius Classroom” programs.

On Friday, Walters spoke to Fox News Digital on the broader subjectof foreign interference in schools and referenced his probe into the Tulsa school system at the time, which he said has since been resolved.

In a statement to Fox News at the time, Tulsa Public Schools said the district “has no Confucius classroom programs in its schools.” In a report from The Oklahoman, the district reportedly funded a professional development class for a Chinese language teacher at one high school, which was facilitated through a Confucius Classroom Coordination Office at an outside, Texas-based organization.

Walters said the school was technically correct at the moment it claimed it did not host any such program because the timing followed the state’s announcement of a forthcoming ban.

“What we found shocking was that the funding was hidden from parents, that it was actually the Chinese Communist Party that was funding a nonprofit that was working directly in the school,” he said Friday.

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He said Oklahoma has led the nation in investigating foreign influence in domestic curricula, pointing out that Florida later followed his lead in issuing similar directives.

“What we’ve done here in my agency is not allowed districts to partner with countries that are antagonistic towards the United States, as determined by our national security groups,” he said.

Walters said Oklahoma requires parents to know “who is teaching my kids” and what they are being taught.

He warned that, without such oversight, there remains the risk of foreign influence from malign nations in the same way that Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” manipulated and indoctrinated a generation of Chinese students.

An order from Walters dated Aug. 29, 2023, provided to Fox News Digital demanded superintendents statewide provide his office with a list of foreign governments or organizations that provided funds or “in-kind services” to districts and their dollar amounts.

Walters said he gave schools about two weeks to come into compliance in that regard.

Charles Creitz is a reporter for Fox News Digital. 

He joined Fox News in 2013 as a writer and production assistant. 

Charles covers media, politics and culture for Fox News Digital.

Charles is a Pennsylvania native and graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism. Story tips can be sent to [email protected].

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