For school choice to have the greatest possible impact, we must begin to build the infrastructure to support it now. An alarming trend has been highlighted by Congressman Mike Waltz that has raised additional concerns impacting school choice: China is buying private K-12 schools and colleges across the country.

In a statement released from his office, the Congressman stated: “It’s incredibly concerning that there are American private schools owned by companies with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 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.”

If red states, and even some purple states, pass school choice, and China as well as Big Tech come in and buy a controlling interest in the existing private schools, or even if they start building new private schools that they control, would that help our country? Many parents who make the choice of pulling their child out of the leftist public school system might be enrolling them in a Chinese-owned private school instead that will undoubtedly be indoctrinating their child, and possibly be collecting personal data on them.

The sad fact is that this is not a new trend. A mysterious Chinese company bought the New York Military Academy in 2015, a very well-known prep school which President Donald Trump attended. New York Military Academy had a JROTC program aligned with the U.S. Army. A Chinese-backed company also bought Florida Preparatory Academy. Florida Preparatory Academy has a JROTC program aligned with the U.S. Air Force. Without knowing that these schools were owned by Chinese companies, many conservative parents would be rushing to enroll their children in these schools, especially after school choice legislation is passed making these schools more affordable. 

Now, while enrollment in a JROTC program does not require that students actually enlist in the military, many of the individuals who enter it do enlist. Do we really want China to have a trove of personal information on our future soldiers and military leaders?

Some of the other schools that China has bought include The Stratford School, which has 26 campuses in southern California, Basis Independent Schools in New York, Busche Academy in New Hampshire, and others. 

In addition to buying private schools in the United States, Chinese-backed companies are also buying private schools in the United Kingdom. As of March of 2022, seventeen private schools in the United Kingdom have been bought by Chinese companies. One of the more frightening facts is that nine of the seventeen schools that are owned by Chinese firms are controlled or owned by “China’s most senior Communist Party members,” according to the UK Daily Mail.

The danger of China’s control over America’s public and private institutions of education should not be underestimated. The CCP’s history of mind control through means of education provides an alarming look into their tactics of how they have successfully been able to facilitate love of country (government) and hatred of family. In our lesson, Conditioning the Masses for Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, covering the Ten Theses which was used to “internalize propaganda as absolute truths,” we discuss the depths to which the CCP went to control youth, and their success. According to the lesson’s synopsis, “In Mao’s Ten Theses he repeatedly references the importance of education and influencing the minds of the future generations; the fragility of the mind was Mao’s ultimate advantage in creating a murderous dystopia in which blood-soaked streets meant his success in infiltrating the minds of youth who would undoubtedly continue their crusade in his name and the name of communism.” Now, this reference does not suggest that America’s streets will be soaked in blood like China’s during the Cultural Revolution, but it shows how significant the CCP views education, and their recognition of it as an important means to power. The Chinese who are buying our private schools still worship Mao, including his leadership and advice.

In our lesson, we highlight many telling quotes from Zhou Enlai’s speech on the Ten Theses, but three in particular stick out regarding education. Enlai said:

“In the ten theses, which were published in 1963, we laid forth the necessity of popularizing philosophy, with the intention for it to become adopted [by the] masses…for the philosophy to come out of the narrow and limited frame of academia.”

He also said, “…that of the new and old intellectuals of the bourgeoisie who work in the sectors of culture, of science, of the press, the publishing, etc…as they exploit their so-called authority in the field of education, etc., and they draw themselves to other people as well. In this case, by teaching others through their pedagogy, they influence the Education (continued) masses in the area of spirituality and mentality toward changing their point of view. They seek to change all, whether they have good origin or a bad origin. They are thus helping the birth of a new bourgeoisie element by preparing some people as their offspring or successors. Even in the academic, philosophical or scientific fields, they exploit their knowledge and use it to exert their influence, especially over the youth.” 

Lastly, but certainly not least, Enlai said, “Comrade Mao Zedong put forth the issue of preparing successors, or those who would continue the work on the construction of communism…[we] must also fight for the future, for the new generation, because the bourgeoisie also fights to make this generation their own.”               

These quotes suggest that Mao and the CCP knew that the education of future generations would either support or challenge their authority, either advancing the control they have or ending it. With America being the greatest challenge to China’s authority, it comes as no surprise that they would try to cement a stronghold within the nation that is their biggest adversary to influence its impressionable youth. 

This reference does not suggest that China will begin a Cultural Revolution by handing out Little Red Books to everyone and demanding a picture of Mao to be hung in every classroom. However, China could mold minds through subliminal messages or by using American organizations who already undermine the country through their own anti-American agendas, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM).

The Federalist reports that according to an investigation by the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez, the Black Futures Lab, which is a venture by Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza, is sponsored by the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), “an organization that works with China’s communist government to push its agenda in the United States.”

The fear of a radical leftist takeover of education, and essentially America, pales in comparison to a takeover by China. The Chinese Communist Party has a long history in which they’ve effectively harmed their own people to secure their power. China is the real deal when it comes to communism; they do not just admire communism nor do they simply aspire to become communists like many radical leftists in America who would likely cower in the face of what real communism entails. Remember China’s bloody history of the Cultural Revolution which killed millions through violence, the Great Leap Forward which killed millions through starvation, and the Tiananmen Square Massacre which killed thousands who protested for democracy. 

Still, the Chinese idolize Mao Zedong today. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, two athletes came under scrutiny for wearing pins with Mao’s image during a medal ceremony. Since the International Olympic Committee (IOC) condemned the act as a violation of rules, China agreed to no longer have their athletes wear Mao pins at ceremonies. Although the Chinese are not allowed to wear pins depicting Mao at future Olympic medal ceremonies, their gesture speaks volumes on its own. The Chinese began wearing these pins in the 1960s to show loyalty to Mao, and such loyalty is still shown and expected today. 

Again, while we at The Locke Society support school choice, the fact remains that moderates and conservatives are falling further and further behind the radical left in building and supporting alternatives to traditional public education. Now, it is also apparent that conservatives and moderates are also behind the Chinese Communist Party, and other organizations they may be connected with, in funding private schools in the United States. While conservative think tanks and commentators are enjoying their galas, cruises, and conferences, the radical left and China have infiltrated and now have control of a majority interest of the private school system in the United States. If school choice advocates really want to give parents a choice, they should give them more of a choice than woke public schools, woke private schools, or Chinese-owned schools.