Gulen charter schools

Please note: Since this entry was originally posted in June 2010, four separate pages have been created to provide readers with more detailed information:


Classified documents recently released by WikiLeaks recount U.S. officials' growing concern over large numbers of Turkish men seeking visas to work at American charter schools founded by followers of Fethullah Gulen, a powerful Turkish Muslim political figure who lives in the Poconos.

"Gulen supporters account for an increasing proportion of [the] . . . nonimmigrant visa applicant pool," a consular official in Istanbul, Turkey, wrote in 2006, according to one of the documents posted by WikiLeaks two weeks ago.

"Consular officials have noticed that most of these applicants share a common characteristic: They are generally evasive about their purpose of travel to the United States."...

An analysis of H1-B visas conducted for The Inquirer showed that the number granted for Gulen charter schools has grown substantially since that 2006 report. More than 2,500 have been issued since 2007...

As The Inquirer has reported, several federal agencies - including the FBI and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education - are investigating whether charter employees working in this country on H1-B visas are kicking back part of their salaries to a Muslim movement Gulen founded known as Hizmet, or "Service," according to sources...

Other U.S. documents released by WikiLeaks detail diplomats' efforts to follow the Gulen movement in Turkey and their growing unease as they observed an increase in its followers heading to the United States to teach...

The embassy report questioned Gulen's ultimate aims and said the embassy had evidence the movement pressured Turkish businessmen to give money to Gulenist schools and activities.

"We have multiple reliable reports that the Gulenists use their school network (including dozens of schools in the U.S.) to cherry-pick students they think are susceptible to being molded as proselytizers and we have steadily heard reports about how the schools indoctrinate boarding students," the report said.

Many Gulen-sponsored high schools in Turkey are boarding schools. Scholars who have studied the Gulen movement in Turkey have found that many of those students wind up teaching in U.S. charter schools after earning degrees from Turkish universities with Gulen's support.

One of the most detailed reports in the WikiLeaks cache is titled "Fethullah Gulen: Why Are His Followers Traveling?"

Written from Istanbul in 2006, it describes Gulen as "at the apex of a growing global network of organizations that profess a peace-loving, ecumenical vision of Islam."

The writer continued: "Gulen's activities first piqued consular officers' interest several years ago when applicants began to appear seeking to visit a number of charter schools in the U.S. with which consular officers were unfamiliar."

After interviewing "thousands" of Turks seeking permission to travel to the United States, the consular office in Istanbul compiled "a substantial list of organizations that seem in some way affiliated with Gulen." The roster included the Zaman newspaper in Turkey and 30 charter schools the consular office had identified as of May 2006.

The report said that after U.S. authorities in Istanbul and Ankara denied many of the applicants permission to enter the United States on other types of visas, many returned in 2004 seeking H1-B visas "sponsored by Gulen-affiliated science academies."...

The former teacher also provided a document called a tuzuk, which resembles a contract and prescribes how much money teachers employed on H1-B visas are supposed to return to Hizmet.

But parents and American teachers complain that the Turks employed on H1-B visas - often as math and science teachers - have limited English skills and are paid more than their American counterparts who are certified.

Some have described how uncertified Turkish teachers are moved from one charter school to another when their "emergency" teaching credentials expire. Others recount a pattern of sudden turnovers of Turkish business managers, administrators, and board members...
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They have generic, forward-sounding names like Horizon Science Academy, Pioneer Charter School of Science and Beehive Science & Technology Academy.

Quietly established over the past decade by a loosely affiliated group of Turkish-American educators, these 100 or so publicly funded charter schools in 25 states are often among the top-performing public schools in their towns.

The schools educate as many as 35,000 students — taken together they'd make up the largest charter school network in the USA — and have imported thousands of Turkish educators over the past decade.

But the success of the schools at times has been clouded by nagging questions about what ties the schools may have to a reclusive Muslim leader in his late 60s living in exile in rural Pennsylvania…

Top administrators say they have no official ties to Gülen. And Gülen himself denies any connection to the schools. Still, documents available at various foundation websites and in federal forms required of non-profit groups show that virtually all of the schools have opened or operate with the aid of Gülen-inspired "dialogue" groups, local non-profits that promote Turkish culture. In one case, the Ohio-based Horizon Science Academy of Springfield in 2005 signed a five-year building lease with the parent organization of Chicago's Niagara Foundation, which promotes Gülen's philosophy of "peace, mutual respect, the culture of coexistence." Gülen is the foundation's honorary president. In many cases, charter school board members also serve as dialogue group leaders…

The Turkish-affiliated schools focus on math and science and often appear as top scorers on standardized tests. Still, lawmakers, researchers and parents are beginning to put the schools under the microscope for hiring practices — they import hundreds of teachers from Turkey each year — and for steps they take to keep their academic profile high.

The schools' unacknowledged ties to Gülen, they say, mock public schools' spirit of transparency…

At minimum, the rapid growth of the Turkish-affiliated schools shows how the freewheeling world of charter schools has changed the face of K-12 education in the USA…

While the Turkish-affiliated schools disavow any connection to the Gülen Movement, Gülen himself maintains in legal filings that he's the inspiration behind their growth. But William Martin of Rice University in Houston says educators' assertions of "no organic connection" to Gülen are accurate…

In an e-mail interview, Mehmet Argin, principal of Tucson's Sonoran Science Academy, says his school's parent corporation, Daisy Education Corp., "has no legal or organic ties" with other schools. He cautions against linking charter schools founded by Turkish-Americans directly to the Gülen Movement "just because Turkish-Americans may be inspired by Mr. Gülen."…

22 comments:

Jonathan said...

I came to see more about Charter schools here and look at problems parents and students faced during school time. Something bad or wrong from experience.

But what are this updates about Gulen connection, all links go to the blogs, probably created by the same people. And who is writing all these: parent, previous staff or is there any politics involved?!

We all know that you will get, so you create so many basic blogs and keep on saying STH IS BAD!
Let parents tell from their experience...

The Perimeter Primate said...

Civil lawsuits.

Jul. 3, 2008 12:00 AM

Case number: CV08-12817

Plaintiff: Arizona Department of Health Services.

Defendant: Daisy Education Corp., dba Sonoran Science Academy - Phoenix.

Nature of complaint: Unlicensed child care facility.

Attorney for plaintiff: Donald P. Schmid.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/business/abg/articles/2008/07/03/20080703abg-civilsuits0703.html#ixzz0thf4nYE0

The Perimeter Primate said...

Another Department of Homeland Security visit:

Direct Hit
August 10, 2010 5:27 PM
IP: 216.81.94.72 (sbcp5.dhs.gov) Washington, DC, United States
Windows XP
Internet Explorer 7.0

The Perimeter Primate said...

Another hit from someone in Turkey who is interested in my blog about U.S. charter schools.

Referring URL: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=42&ved=0CBUQFjABOCg&url=http://charterschoolscandals.bl

August 11, 2010 12:18 PM
IP: 88.226.61.237 (dsl88-226-15853.ttnet.net.tr)
Ankara, Turkey
Google Chrome

The Perimeter Primate said...

Another hit from someone at the Executive Office of the President who visited by site by googling "fly-by-night turnaround schools"

Referring URL: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=fly-by-night turnaround schools&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
August 11, 2010 12:27 PM
IP: 63.161.169.66 (esseop04.eop.gov)
Washington, DC, United States
Internet Explorer 6.0
Windows XP

I find these visits fascinating.

The Perimeter Primate said...

FETULLAH GULEN'S MOVEMENT IN CENTRAL ASIA: A BLESSING OR A CURSE?, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University, 9/1/2009, http://www.cacianalyst.org/?q=node/5167

Excerpts:

1. "It [Gulen movement] provides heavily subsidized, science-oriented and above-average education that is nevertheless criticized for being narrow-minded and uncritical."

2. "However, its numerous critics...have accused the Gulen movement of having a hidden political agenda of promoting Islam by stealth."

3. "Following fundraisers through Himmet, or ‘donation pledge’ meetings, the affiliated businesses sign agreements with authorities to provide education. Most of the teachers are Gulen followers coming from Turkey."

4. "The movement’s ideology is promoted through subtle means. While the schools are nominally secular institutions, they promote Muslim religious education and Turkism indirectly during classes and ‘class hours’ (to use the Soviet term of ethical education delivered in addition to regular classes). "

5. "The movement’s secretive nature, and the inconsistency betweens the leader’s messages and the practice of his followers has led to growing reactions across Central Asia, where it has generated accusations of hypocrisy and ill will."

"AUTHOR’S BIO: Roman Muzalevsky is an international affairs and security analyst on the former Soviet Union, Caucasus and Central Asia."

Wigon said...

I am the Vice President of one of the "Gulen" affiliated charter school boards in Texas and as a non-Muslim American citizen, I can guarantee you that there are no greater issues with our schools then any other charter school. There is absolutely ZERO Islamic education. NOTHING...not even a shred of anything even remotely religious in the curiculum. Furthermore, in Texas all of our affiliated schools are ranked as some of the top performing schools in Texas (most of them are exemplary status). If there are any complaints or allegations, please address first teachers, then principals, then school-boards, followed by the TEA (Texas Education Agency). We are 100% dedicated and passionate about education so please don't even try comparing us to scome remotely affiliated Gulen schools in Central Asia (in Muslim countries). BTW...I also do research in counter-terrorism and radical Islam as an anthropologist and I am former US Army. The Gulen people are the amongst some of the most moderate Sufi Muslims that you will find amongst Turks. From almost a decade of experience working with them I can attest that they make some of the best American citizens that America could ever want in terms of their love for America, their passion for civic activism to improve their communities, and their dedication to the ideals of tolerance for other religions. This belief in tolerance can be found in Gulen's and Said Nursi's teachings that are largely based upon the teachings of the Sufi Master/Poet Rumi. I can only wish that more Americans would meet Muslims like them if they wish to experience and see what REAL Muslims are like.

Anonymous said...

Wigon;
They give nothing back to American society, they only take. You have bought the Kool aid and are no doubt from your posting a convert to Hizmet.
The Gulen movement has inflitrated the ranks of education, media and politics for a REASON and it doesn't have anything to do with education of our children. Furthermore none of your test scores and results have proved to be exemplary at all.

No one should be surprised that Turkey has opened an investigation in Turkey on the Gulen movement inflitrating ranks of military, police, controlling schools and media in Turkey.

Tolerance cannot be found at this Turkish managed Charter Schools. There are countless examples of Human rights violations (EEOC) one particular case was filed against your own precious Harmony Science School in a New Mexico Court. I am sure you have heard of Couch vs. Harmony Science?

The mere fact you have decided to conduct a due diligence on Harmony Science tells me that you have some concerns. I assure you, that you are a tool being used by Gulen's Hizmet. They will have meetings without you or talk Turkish to exclude you from any decision making.

Here is the news release from Turkey on the Gulen investigation.
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gJa8W_kvoTiQ9I_YfcoAHfH6xnkg

Mr. Curious said...

In USA Today's interview with Gulen, August 16, 2010, he admits that there might be a group of educators at U.S. public institutions who have been influenced by his educational philosophy. However, Gulen rejects the attributions of any U.S. public institutions to his name. For him, there is no such a thing as Gulen charter schools, yet there may be charter schools in U.S. at which Gulen-inspired educators work. Here is a short interview conducted by a Turkish-American academic with a couple of Turkish educators working at charter/public schools in Texas: http://gulenandcharterschools.blogspot.com/p/gulen-and-educators.html

The Perimeter Primate said...

Tim Stellar of the Arizona Daily Star is one of the few reporters who has caught onto the GM's charter schools.

Read his 9/16/2010 piece, "Pima IDA helped Turkish-run, out-of-state schools" + the comments!

http://azstarnet.com/news/blogs/senor-reporter/article_a20e6180-c1de-11df-bc8e-001cc4c03286.html?mode=story

The Perimeter Primate said...

An admission that that "the followers of an obscure Turkish imam came to operate the largest charter school system in Texas."

In Texas Monthly, August 2010

http://www.texasmonthly.com/authors/williammartin

Anonymous said...

FYI the IL charter school in Peoria opened as is called Quest Charter Academy - it is a member of Concept Schools. questpeoria.org

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article about the so called Gulen Charter Schools

http://www.getthefact.com/gulen-charter-schools/rosetta-stone-gulen-charter-schools.html

John said...

The rapid growth of charter schools in the United States has sparked controversy. Critics claim that charter schools drain funds from meager public school budgets because local school districts must often reduce their own budgets to fund the new schools. Some charter schools have faced criticism for using unreliable assessment tools to evaluate school performance. Critics also charge that charter schools often use dilapidated or otherwise inferior buildings because they lack sufficient funds.

Read more at http://www.charteradvocate.net/index.php/77-gulen-charter-schools/69-charter-school-oppositions

Anonymous said...

Same story, same kitchen, same cooks but different service personnel and distribution channels...
The fellow named Perimeter; A very simple question to you: With all those civil lawsuits you cited (some of them were intentionally crafted as a part of ongoing smear campaign by the very same people who apparently have been feeding you), can you show us one legal verdict or conviction as a proof that Gulen has been sponsoring these charter schools?
Get your facts right, learn more about charter schools as they are in are non-secretarian, and non-religious public schools supported by tax payers $$. Charter schools are held accountable by the charter granting authorities according to the charter agreement, and rest assured that if there were any malpractice, or wrongdoing, the legal authorities would be the first to take an action. So, wake up from your nightmare, and your baseless Gulen phobia. Just to help you a little bit, I suggest that you read the following article, which will not only help you open your mind but alleviate your stress. Here is an antidepressant for you:
http://www.getthefact.com/gulen-charter-schools/julia-charter-schools.html

The Perimeter Primate said...

The link between the Gulen movement and the charter schools has been confirmed by movement insiders.

http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2010/11/affiliation-between-gulen-movement-and.html

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous:
Same lies, Same "Gulenisms and keeping SECRETS" and it is predictable from State to State as well as country to country.
You all bark the same Paranoia Conspiracy Theories of Ergenekon (a myth)

Maybe you are ashamed to admit you are part of Hizmet because of the recent scandals in Louisana? or is it Texas? Oops, I think Missouri, Ohio, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and about 3 other states are included in an investigation.

Stand tall and be proud you are followers of HocaEfendi Fetos, instead you hang your head in shame denying the undeniable.

Do yourself a favor, don't stay where you are not wanted.

Wigon said...

This is Wigon, again, the VP of one of the schools associated with Harmony. I read the PDF file for the Couch vs. Harmony case in New Mexico and immediately some red flags popped up. One was that Turkish male teachers do not stay after school. At my own schools and at Harmony schools that I've visited after school hours and on weekends, it is, in fact our Turkish teachers who I mostly find staying late (although occasionally one or two American teachers as well). The allegations of pay discrimination was one that I never heard of here in Texas. Every state has different laws regarding teacher salaries and the differences in pay may be due to the specialized areas that they teach. For example, at a public university, a physics professor will make vastly more then a Spanish professor. But again, state law determines whether this is allowed or not and I don't know if New Mexico allows for that. Regarding the issue of sexual harassment, I wonder if that teacher ever contacted the school board and/or their state education agency? If a teacher EVER came to me with such a claim, it would be thoroughly investigated with appropriate action taken if there was some truth to the allegations. It is a very tricky issue also because if the allegations are false or do not have enough evidence, the accused teacher can also file a lawsuit against the school.
With that said, to date, I've never received any such complaints from any teachers and I hope I never do. But most school systems occasionally get lawsuits for one reason or another. The job of the school board however is try and insure that such grievances are investigated and fixed to the satisfaction of those involved if indeed some wrong was done by one of our schools. Often simple problems get blown way out of proportion if they are not resolved in a quick and honest manner.

Finally regarding Turkish politics... those allegations are based on ONE BOOK. There are tons of Turkish secularists who passionately hate Gulen so such a book making such allegations doesn't surprise me. On the flip side if you read wahhabi/Salafi/Deobandi opinions of Gulen, they acccuse him of working for the CIA and for the Israelis. They also don't take accept him as a serious Islamic scholar or leader. Whatever the case Turkey is a VERY different country then America. What they do their is one thing as they are a Turkish nation with a primarily Muslim population. What they do here in a secular nation with is quite another story.

The fact of the matter, is that Turks, given current population trends in the United States, will always be a very small minority in America. In other words there is no way they're going to take over our education system or our government. People just need to chill on all that Islamophobia. Unfortunately many Americans can't believe that Muslims would actually do something GOOD for America and instead believe that there always has to be a secret agenda. It's no secret that many of the teachers and admins are Gulen followers. That is not illegal and what they do with their salary is up to them including donating a portion to Gulen's REAL organizations like the Raindrop Foundation. Unless the State Department and/or Justice Department labels them as a terrorist or criminal organization, then that is perfectly legal and it's none of my business. It would only become my business if there was evidence of coercion on our teachers to give money to one of the official Gulen foundations.

Wigon said...

(continued...) Speaking of evidence, our state audits have always passed with no problems and definitely no evidence of a penny going to any religious organization. Those audits are available to the public for all charter schools. If you ever find direct evidence of any tax-payer money illegally going to the Gulen foundations, please post that information on your website and I will investigate. Even better, contact the school board for that specific school to inform them. But I'm quite sure you won't find any such things.

At any rate, I honestly think that it's healthy to have watchdogs on ANY government agency and I applaud Americans who are not apathetic and who take the time to look into problems or potential problems in our government (notably our education system). I only wish that posters of the allegations would first take time to actually contact the school boards directly and attend our meetings so that problems can be addressed, investigated, and in most places resolved on the spot with perfectly valid explanations. As for "secret meetings" behind my back, the Turkish board members can talk about whatever they want amongst themselves. But I'm quite confident that they're not stupid enough to try and hide problems from me because they know I'm going to hear about those problems one way or another and they know that I'm actively monitoring and looking into all current and new allegations. With that said, having seen the results of the Harmony education system, I KNOW it works, not just based on tests, but rather from talking to students about their knowledge. They simply blow me away with the level of knowledge they have for their grade levels. There is no doubt in my mind that it is a far superior system of education then what most of our public schools offer. Anyways, my apologies for the long post, but a lot needed explaining.

Anonymous said...

this schools are helping to them to get financial support. the system is very simple. they open a school somewhere and putting 200-300 children inside. in turkey they have a big chain of people which is maybe over 1 million people. all this people are divided into small groups and this groups do not have any contact between them. to each group they are telling to support 1-5 children in the school. they are collecting in this way from 10.000 - 20.000 people money which is illegal collected and not registered somewhere. only 10% of this money is good for the expences of the school. the rest is used for their terrorist side and operations which are happening in turkey to discover turkish government which is done alllready, second step is to change motherlaw and to bring a president like in iran. last step will be to bring a religious leader on top of the president who will be mr. gulen. when all mission is completed , mr.gulen will come to return like humeyni came many years ago to tehran.

Wigon said...

Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous, if you had evidence of Gulen's organizations supporting ANY terrorist attacks in Turkey that the FBI and CIA could verify, then Gulen would be extradited to Turkey and all of his organization's closed within the United States overnight. So please quit trying to drag our charter schools into Turkish politics. All this does is hurt one of the top charter schools in the Texas education system that is leading the way in improving our children's education. Your rumors only hurt American school children and waste millions of dollars in American taxpayer money with all of the investigations into bogus accusations. As such, I hope that the FBI begins investigating who is making these false allegations of criminal misconduct and begin to press criminal charges against them so that our school administrators can concentrate 100% on education and not dealing with politically motivated false allegations, conspiracy theories, and fear-mongoring.

Anonymous said...

Why so much fuss about the Charter Schools and or scandals. We have Jewish Schools, Catholic Schools and had numerous scandals over the years. Why can we not tolerate other people to run charter schools? We dont want minorities to hava a decent shot at education so that they compete with offsprings of the economic one percenters. I find this brohoura against the schools non-sense and not well-intentioned.