Op-Ed: Land Between The Lakes And The Communist Exchange Program

Image Credit: Shaundd / CC & Public Domain

By Kendra Ohalloran [contributor to the Tennessee Conservative] –

We have all read the headlines, “Harvard Professor guilty of lying about Chinese ties,” and others like “Congressman Eric Swalwell Fang Fang Scandal.” Chinese Government Confucius Institutes, ripe with espionage, have been rapidly closing across the county. For those of us relatively astute to the happenings around us, we know the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the mortal enemy of the United States of America, and every republic across the globe. 

In 2020, thanks in large part to the Trump Administration, the State Department ended five exchange programs with China, calling them “soft power propaganda tools” for the CCP. One of those programs was the U.S-China Leadership Exchange Program. 

Beginning in 2005, the Principals Leadership Academy of Nashville created a program called the “Education Leadership Learning Exchange” (ELLE). This program brought leaders together from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, Nashville Metropolitan Schools and you guessed it, China. More specifically, South China Normal University, located in Guangzhou province of the People’s Republic of China. Among these leaders selected to participate in the program, one is currently a candidate for School Board in Wilson County, TN.

Contrary to its name, there is nothing “Normal” within this province. If you are aligning normal with traditional western values, of course. Like all Chinese cities, there is a complete disregard for basic human rights. Firsthand accounts describe being forced into indoctrination centers where CCP authorities subjected them to deception, prolonged punitive sitting, sleeping, deprivation and torture. Some even recounted being severely beaten, forced to drink toilet water and being pepper sprayed in the face. This brings into question the real purpose of the ELLE program. 

According to Xiu Cravens, assistant dean for international affairs at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College, “the principals of each group [were working to] capture the successes of best practices and the ever-present challenges of educating young people of today,” via activities including “lectures on learning-centered leadership, visits to Nashville schools and cultural engagements.” Interestingly, the entire program has been scrubbed from Vanderbilt’s website, blogs of the attendees have been erased and no data to measure the success of this five-year venture, its cost and or potential grants provided for this program is available to be observed. 

When school board candidate for Zone 4, Wilson County TN, Dorothy Critchlow, was recently questioned about the program and her proudly displaying this program on her resume for all to see, she noted the purpose of the ELLE program was for American teachers to help infuse American teaching strategies in their schools, to improve Guangzhou classroom environments and increase student participation. 


In 2006, during the time the program was implemented, China’s Education Minister Yuan Guiren, a former president of Beijing Normal University, another “normal” city, told a conference of college academics that they should “by no means allow teaching materials that disseminate Western values in our classrooms.”  The People’s Education Press, the state-owned textbook publisher for all primary schools and secondary education, whose name was originally inscribed by Mao Zedong, notes on their website that it “adheres to the tenets of the CCP” and aims to “contribute to the construction of a harmonious socialist society.”

Given the information provided above, and what the world knows of China’s true intentions, it would appear the participants of the ELLE program were either complicit in the true goals of the program, or just ignorantly unaware. It appears that much of this ELLE program functioned like the Confucius Institutes. Yet another back door for the CCP to conduct various espionage and intelligence gathering operations to unassuming or willfully ignorant Americans. 

The members affiliated with the Principals Leadership Academy in Nashville who attended the ELLE program should not be overlooked. Are there unlisted donations and or grants to the Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, or others from China? Did they receive special trade agreements, or other arrangements? 

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I often say, leadership in this country, both federally and locally do not know what time it is in America. The progressive left sends wolves into school districts to get contracts approved and grants submitted to provide educational content intent on harming these United States, to unassuming sheep sitting on the school boards to protect our children and taxpayer dollars. 

To believe you were sent to China to improve student participation, while they outscore our American students in every measurable way is laughable. It is also laughable to think the CCP would not hand select their most loyal cohorts to travel to Nashville TN, to observe our leadership style and not potentially gather intelligence on security apparatchik, layout of the city, potential implants of long terms intelligence gathering, computer systems and the like is ludicrous. 

In selecting your next school board member, commissioner, state official or federal representative in the upcoming elections, ensure there are no ties to China, past, present, or future. Ensure they do not peddle diversity of culture, supporting all students, everyone’s favorite buzzword “equity” while also touting experience gained, and might I say intelligence gathered, from a communist country who has essentially declared ideological war on these United States of America.











About the Author: Kendra Ohalloran, along with her husband and French Bulldog are recent political refugees from the state of Massachusetts seeking refuge in the great state of Tennessee. Two weeks into their tenure in the state, Ohalloran was horrified as to what was happening to our state and felt she could no longer could run, but rather had to become active to help preserve the United States she had the luxury of growing up in. Ohalloran is a member of various conservative groups in Wilson County and in Nashville, and enjoys exploring the state parks in the local area, trying a new restaurant every week and enjoying all this beautiful state has to offer!

One thought on “Op-Ed: Land Between The Lakes And The Communist Exchange Program

  • July 14, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    OPTEMPO of CCP involvement in TN has not really gone down . Confucius Institute’s names changed but the involvement of many Tennessee individuals, educational institutions and businesses remains high even in the Oak Ridge area.


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