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Aaron Bean calls for increased transparency for school funding sources

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Aaron Bean calls for increased transparency for school funding sources

Jun 12, 2024 | 3:51 pm ET
By Jay Waagmeester
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Aaron Bean calls for increased transparency for school funding sources
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Student chair and desk in classroom. Credit: Catherine McQueen. Getty Images.

Republican Florida Congressman Aaron Bean has introduced legislation that would require public K-12 schools to inform parents about any dealings the school might have with “foreign governments of concern.” 

Bean, representing Clay and Duval counties and part of Nassau County in the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced his Transparency in Reporting of Adversarial Contributions to Education Act on Friday. 

The bill would establish that parents have the right to know whether their children’s schools bought or otherwise acquired curricular or professional development material using funds from “a foreign country or a foreign entity of concern,” according to the bill text

Aaron Bean calls for increased transparency for school funding sources
Aaron Bean via U.S. House

Foreign entities of concern are defined as those designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the Secretary of State; appears on the list of nationals and blocked persons maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control; are alleged by the U.S. attorney general to have been involved in activities for which a conviction was obtained under various listed statutes,; or has been determined by the secretary of Commerce to be engaged in unauthorized conduct detrimental to national security.

The measure also applies if such governments contribute to salaries or donations.

“American schools are for education, not espionage,” Bean, chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee, said in an email to the Phoenix.

“We cannot allow our students — the future of our great nation — to be corrupted by foreign adversaries who are systematically and aggressively attempting to influence our nation’s K-12 schools. Yet this is what happens when our institutions of learning accept the Trojan Horse of foreign funding.”

The bill includes the right of parents to view contracts, memoranda of understanding, and financial transactions. 

“My bill aims to solidify the rights of parents to know how foreign influence may be impacting their child’s classroom and deter the ability of foreign nations to reach America’s youth,” Bean said. 

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Fewer than five

Fox News has associated this legislation with Confucius Classrooms, typically affiliated with People’s Republic of China-backed Confucius Universities, of which there are fewer than five in the United States, according to a 2023 Government Accountability Office report.

The institutes promote Chinese language and culture, and, according to United States government reports, have a partial goal of improving the image of that country, but have nearly vanished from the United States. 

In September, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education announced that an investigation found four private schools in the state had “direct ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and, as a result, they would no longer be allowed to participate in school choice scholarship programs. The schools denied ties to any overseas government. 

Florida public school students will be taught the history of communism, required by SB 1264, signed by DeSantis in April. 

The Florida Department of Education is responsible for making age- and developmentally appropriate curricula for public schools and is instructed to “seek input from victims of communism” when doing so.