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Hu Jintao to Visit Chicago School With Chinese Language Program

As part of Chinese President Hu Jintao's trip to the United States this week, he plans to stop by a Chicago public school—one known for having a strong Mandarin Chinese language and culture program. In fact, that program at Walter Payton College Prep, like a growing number of others around the country, is apparently supported in part with funds from the Chinese government.

I wrote a story last fall about the growing efforts, and financial support, from the Chinese government to promote Chinese language instruction here. While many state and local education officials have welcomed the support, the fact that China is helping to foot the bill has drawn some sharp criticism.

A story in the Chicago Tribune notes that "Chicago Public Schools boasts one of the most successful Chinese-language programs in the country, and Walter Payton Prep, home to the Confucius Institute, serves as its hub."

The Confucius Institute at the school is a project of Chicago Public Schools in partnership with Shanghai's East China Normal University and Hanban, an organization affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, the story explains. That institute opened in 2006 following a visit to China by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.

Walter Payton College Prep, located on Chicago's near North Side, is one of the city school district's nine selective enrollment high schools, according to Wikipedia. It was named after Chicago Bears football legend Walter Payton. The school describes itself as a "math, science, and world language academy."

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