Education, West Virginia Legislature

House Education bill targets Chinese influence on college campuses; Senate passes Intelligent Design in schools bill

MORGANTOWN – The House Education Committee on Saturday approved a bill aimed at curbing Communist Chinese infiltration of college campuses. Across the Capitol, the full Senate approved the bill to allow teaching of Intelligent Design

HB 3049 is the American Campuses Act. In its introduced version it was aimed specifically at China. It would forbid a state higher education institution from establishing or recognizing a Chinese foreign mission by July 1, and if one is present to devise a plan to end the relationship.

It also called for institutions to end any cultural exchange programs identified by the federal government as Chinese propaganda tools. And it forbade any institution, employee, student or contractor from participating in a Communist Chinese recruitment program.

The Higher Education Policy Commission and the Council for Community and Technical College Education would submit a report on these matters to the Legislature by Sept. 15.

A committee substitute broadened the scope a bit. It adopts language from U.S. Department of Energy rules to apply the bills to foreign countries of risk – taking in Russia, Iran and North Korea. It took out references to propaganda tools and to students and contractors, to conform to USDOE language.

Delegates asked some detail questions, and Delegate Bill Ridenour, R-Jefferson, offered the only comments during the debate portion.

A retired Marine and Defense Intelligence officer, he said Chinese infiltration is a major threat to all higher education institutions across the country. The Chinese have targeted campuses for espionage and manipulation.

“They’re engaged in a very large, long-term effort to do both of those things,” he said.

It passed in a voice vote – not unanimously – and goes to the House floor.

SB 619 is the Intelligent Design bill. It’s just one sentence long and allows teachers in public schools and charter schools to teach Intelligent Design as a theory of how the universe and humanity came to exist.

In Senate Education on Tuesday, chair Amy Grady, R-Mason, said the idea was brought to her by a Hurricane High student who, in turn, told the committee a teacher gave him the idea. The teacher wanted the option to teach ID alongside evolution.

The vote was 27-6 and it goes to the House. All three Democrats and three Republicans voted against it.

Tweet David Beard @dbeardtdp Email