WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is joining several Senate colleagues in asking the US Department of Education to determine how much money adversarial foreign governments are donating to American schools, including some in Iowa.
Grassley says, “They’re trying to just in every way they can get a leg up to be number one in global influence.”
Espionage by foreign actors is a “constant threat,” according to Grassley, which can take on various forms, including trying to inject propaganda into our schools. “I think it’s pretty clear that the Chinese Communist Party shouldn’t be able to influence American education,” Grassley says, “and then we have one example of Cedar Rapids receiving this money from 2011 to 2019.”
Grassley, a Republican, says there’s also evidence the Chinese have pumped money into the University of Iowa through what’s called the Confucius Institute. “We know that they’re trying to work their way into American society to make China look good,” Grassley says, “but we just think that we ought to have some handle on how much this is going on and in some cases, to stop it.”
He says the US must “thwart efforts by authoritarian regimes to peddle propaganda in our schools” as well as other threats to national security.
Iowa’s other US Senator Joni Ernst is among the 18 senators who signed the letter requesting the nationwide audit.