Harmony Science Academy – San Antonio


LOW-SCORING STUDENTS TOLD TO LEAVE; September 5, 2009, San Antonio (TX) Express-News
Joe Garcia knew his son was struggling with math but never imagined the problem would lead to his being forced to withdraw from a local charter school.

Garcia and another parent allege that Harmony Science Academy, deemed “exemplary” by the state, pushed their children out because of low performance.

“They tell us, ‘You need to come withdraw your son because he didn't pass the TAKS test,” Garcia said, recalling a call from an office receptionist last summer.

Superintendent Soner Tarim and Principal Irfan Turk deny the allegations. Turk has since been reassigned...

Harmony Science Academy schools — there are 25 in Texas — have a solid academic record. Virtually all the 19 campuses rated last year received “exemplary” or “recognized” ratings, the state's top two ratings. The school, which opened in 2006, concentrates on math, science and technology.

The learning environment is atypical of charter schools, which do not receive state money for facilities. It has two cafeterias, a gymnasium and computer lab. Lockers line spacious halls and visitors are welcomed by stone tile and high-backed sofas.

“The building, the environment — that is the proof of how much we value education,” said Zekeriya Yuksel, an area superintendent who has an office on campus.

Garcia and Darlene Lerma, the other parent who says she was forced to withdraw her daughter, praised Harmony's environment and academic record.

Their primary issue with the school was the phone calls they received last summer.

Garcia's son failed the sixth grade TAKS math. Under school policy, students in grades sixth through eighth must pass TAKS to be promoted. Yuksel said the school administered another test to Garcia's son to determine whether he would be promoted. He failed that test, too.

Shortly after, Garcia said he received the call, not from the principal, but from a front-office receptionist.

Lerma said she received a similar call around the same time, after her daughter failed the eighth-grade TAKS the third time.

“I was like, ‘No, what are you talking about?” Lerma said. “I said, ‘I want to talk to the principal. There's no way. I'm not withdrawing her.'”

Both parents said Turk would not meet with them initially to discuss the issue and that they withdrew their students at the time because they didn't know what else to do.

Garcia called TEA, prompting state officials to look into the matter. Tarim assured the agency he would investigate and call all students who had failed TAKS and were no longer enrolled at the school to invite them back, TEA's Marchman said.

Turk now runs the Laredo campus, but Tarim said Friday his new assignment was unrelated to the incident...

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do not think you will post this since it so thoroughly denies your suspicions.
I have a PhD in education and a masters in Gifted Ed. I have taught middle school and high school for over 20 years--particularly AP. My science/math oriented son goes to Harmony, and I have found the school a blessing. Kids are expected to behave and learn. The expectations alone set the school apart. Yes, the special ed may be small but my child is not special ed. He, too, needs a chance to grow unhampered by TEA's often demoralizing requirements.
It also is not surprising that many of the math teachers are Turkish. Texas can't find math teachers, even with large incentive pay.
The other problem is that Harmony cannot pay much over the minimum. New teachers cut their teeth on Harmony and then move onto the better paying schools.
Never has my son or I heard any dogma or other suggestion of a hidden agenda. There is so much wrong with education here in the U.S. Can't you find something else to write about?

The Perimeter Primate said...

To Anonymous:

From the level of approach of your response, it's clear to me that you have not informed yourself about the Gulen Movement to any extent one little bit.

If indeed you are an American Harmony parent, rather than a Gulenist in disguise, then it is clear to me than the GM has been successful with making you into one of their tools.

If you are willing to learn more about the movement, read the #1 highly recommended item in the left-hand bar of this site.

The teachers are imported from Turkey because they are Gulenist, too. They have been carefully chosen to subtly influence students. Ever think why imported Turkish teachers are the ones teaching character education to all the American kids in these schools? That's not math or science, right?

Despite your degrees (which I suppose you claim in order to legitimize your opinion), you are short-sighted and quite ignorant about the GM. With the frame of mind of parents such as yourself, I wish us all luck.

This secretive religious-based, foreign-interest organization has no business running charter schools with Americans' tax dollars. If you knew anything about them, you would realize the GM has ulterior motives.

Here's one of the ulterior motives as explained by a Gulenist:

"We discussed the subject among ourselves: If 600 schools are bought this way in the United States – and that’s what the members of the Gulen movement are striving to do, - and if 200 students graduate from each one of these schools, then 120 thousand sympathizers of Turkey join the mainstream out there every year. We are trying to lobby against the Armenian genocide resolution every year. And yet, through education, we can teach tens of thousands of people the Turkish language and our national anthem, introduce them to our culture and win them over. And this is what the Gulen movement is striving for."

http://azstarnet.com/news/blogs/senor-reporter/article_41e34294-6aae-11df-93fe-001cc4c03286.html

Anonymous said...

This is full of BS. I've been part of Harmony Science Academy since it opened in El Paso, let me tell you something, no teacher or administration has ever told me "I can't." In fact if I weren't in Harmony I'd probably wouldnt have the opportunities I have now. I am graduating from Harmony this year, and I'm graduating with HONORS. One thing I will never forget here, is the teachers, they are so dedicated it's unreal, it's almost as if they were born to serve students, these teachers TURKISH AND AMERICAN AND HISPANIC have just went the extra mile just to make sure my future is a successful one. NATIONALITY, OR RELIGION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HARMONY SCIENCE ACADEMY GET THAT CRAP STRAIGHT.

Anonymous said...

For some one who claims to be setting us straight on the facts, you clearly need to do some research.
First of all you claim there is 99.9% male & Turkish admin rate, when in reality several of the Harmony schools only have 1 or 2 Turkish employees and several of the schools have women administrators.
Second of all, in my time working at harmony, I have never even heard or had a conversation about Gulen or about why we should convert to Islam.
Since when is it a bad thing to expose children to other religions, belief systems or views. The best way to feel confident in one's own beliefs is to know about all the other beliefs out there. That is just common sense. I am also confused as to why high test scores for low income students and amazingly high numbers of students going to college is bad.
And as for all those suspicious things they want to know about the student's background.... like language spoken at home - this is required of all public schools for the state as any student who speaks another language needs to be looked at for ESL....or wanting to know information about the parents - uh, hello, it's so teachers have a way of contacting parents (many of whom cannot afford home phones).... or teaching Turkish - it would illogical for teachers who speak a foreign langauge to teach a different one. That would be like someone from Spain teaching German. OF COURSE THEY TEACH TURKISH THAT IS WHERE THEY ARE FROM!!!!!.....or let's talk about the trips to Turkey - heaven forbid we all students to travel the world and explore new cultures they would otherwise never have access to...or "sleepovers" - students beg for lock ins where the girls stay one night & boys a different & they get to watch movies and hangout (IS THERE A CHURCH IN THE COUNTRY THAT DOES NOT HAVE SOME FORM OF THE LOCK-IN, it is crap to use something Christian organizations use as something terrible).
And I am sick of hearing about the principal who tried to kick out students who failed TAKS. All the teachers from the other Harmony schools agree this is completely ridiculous and unfair. But, I find it really ridiculous to accuse a 36 school system of being horrible and corrupt because of 1 person's stupid mistake. If that is the way the world worked, we would not have politicans.
I would like to close with the acknowledgement that every school system has its kinks to be worked out, & yes it sucks when it is worked out on your kid. But, Harmony is one of the most tolerant, well-disciplined, caring schools you will find. If you can find me another school where 80% of the teachers voluntarily work 60-65 hours a week, making $10,000 less than public school teachers who work 40 hours, than fine we aren't as special as I claim. However, I doubt you will find a more dedicated system of teachers and students.

Next time you pick a "cause" to attack, I strongly suggest you actually know what you are talking about. Student's education should not be an excuse for your racist and religious intolerance and propaganda.

Anonymous said...

For some one who claims to be setting us straight on the facts, you clearly need to do some research.
First of all you claim there is 99.9% male & Turkish admin rate, when in reality several of the Harmony schools only have 1 or 2 Turkish employees and several of the schools have women administrators.
Second of all, in my time working at harmony, I have never even heard or had a conversation about Gulen or about why we should convert to Islam.
Since when is it a bad thing to expose children to other religions, belief systems or views. The best way to feel confident in one's own beliefs is to know about all the other beliefs out there. That is just common sense. I am also confused as to why high test scores for low income students and amazingly high numbers of students going to college is bad.
And as for all those suspicious things they want to know about the student's background.... like language spoken at home - this is required of all public schools for the state as any student who speaks another language needs to be looked at for ESL....or wanting to know information about the parents - uh, hello, it's so teachers have a way of contacting parents (many of whom cannot afford home phones).... or teaching Turkish - it would illogical for teachers who speak a foreign langauge to teach a different one. That would be like someone from Spain teaching German. OF COURSE THEY TEACH TURKISH THAT IS WHERE THEY ARE FROM!!!!!.....or let's talk about the trips to Turkey - heaven forbid we all students to travel the world and explore new cultures they would otherwise never have access to...or "sleepovers" - students beg for lock ins where the girls stay one night & boys a different & they get to watch movies and hangout (IS THERE A CHURCH IN THE COUNTRY THAT DOES NOT HAVE SOME FORM OF THE LOCK-IN, it is crap to use something Christian organizations use as something terrible).
And I am sick of hearing about the principal who tried to kick out students who failed TAKS. All the teachers from the other Harmony schools agree this is completely ridiculous and unfair. But, I find it really ridiculous to accuse a 36 school system of being horrible and corrupt because of 1 person's stupid mistake. If that is the way the world worked, we would not have politicans.
I would like to close with the acknowledgement that every school system has its kinks to be worked out, & yes it sucks when it is worked out on your kid. But, Harmony is one of the most tolerant, well-disciplined, caring schools you will find. If you can find me another school where 80% of the teachers voluntarily work 60-65 hours a week, making $10,000 less than public school teachers who work 40 hours, than fine we aren't as special as I claim. However, I doubt you will find a more dedicated system of teachers and students.

Next time you pick a "cause" to attack, I strongly suggest you actually know what you are talking about. Student's education should not be an excuse for your racist and religious intolerance and propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, it's true. Very sad. Hopefully one day you will realize it as well... coming from a former Harmony teacher. Every "American" teacher I know hates it there and wishes they could work somewhere else. With the economy today, there is no other choice so everyone sucks it up and puts on a happy face. :)

Do your research on the lawsuits pending, penalties paid, where the money is going, etc...

Either way, there are awesome American teachers there! and some good Turkish teachers.

Anonymous said...

Well the Gulenist are at it again, it isn't enough to post honestly as a Turkish person but they act like a satisfied American parent or student. Fat Chance,
"the writings on the wall."
Look it up boys (it is an American Expression) it means the gig is up and the money is drying.
http://www.harmonyparenttruth.blogspot.com

Harmony School of Science Parent said...

These blog's are bogus means bogus. I have two kids and both of my kids are going to Harmony School of Science. This school has Turkish, Mexican and American teachers and all of them are very knowledgeable. This school has students from all over the world and they all behave well. Nationality or Religion has nothing to do with the Harmony schools. I never had any problem with the school staff or with teaching materials or with books. Teachers do an excellent job spending their personal time helping the students after hours of the school to reach the academic goals. I really appreciate their efforts and sacrificing their time supporting students education. They are very dedicated. Teachers encourage students to participate in competitions and they do give free SAT tutoring in the weekdays and even in the weekends. Where in the world teachers are spending their personal time tutoring students? People who doesn't have any thing to do are spreading all this bogus blogs about the schools now. Please stop all this bullshit it may cause bad effect on students who doesn't even think of all this Crap.

Texas tax payer said...

So who paid for over 700 people from the Harmoney schools to go to Turkey for spring break. Many of the participants only paid a few hundred dollars of the thousands of dollars cost to go. Curious to as what was the purpose of this trip, and was public money used to fund it.

The Perimeter Primate said...

These trips are subsidized by Gulen movement members who give financial contributions called "himmet." They donate their money because they believe it will be used on "the cause."

The purpose of the trips is to
1. increase the students' allegiance to Turkey,
2. conduct more subtle Gulenist brainwashing, and
3. to create an opportunity for the Gulenists to form tight bonds with the travelers.

Christians pay tithing. Gulenists pay himmet.

Anonymous said...

well i used to go to this school.......it sucked.....alot.........i really hated it and they have these things called DPS points? like say if i get caught with my shirt untucked then i get 2 points and then once they all add up you get detention or iss but sereously just give it to us straight up....well i dnt go there no more because i got kicked out and now i go to public school and i tell you i got detention all the time at HSASA but in public school i havent gotten it ONCE! but personally i just hate this school to guts and especially their teachers.......except for some.

Anonymous said...

I too was a teacher at HSA and after only working there a few months was very discontent. Right off the bat we, and I say we because more than one teacher felt the same way, noticed the administration: ALL MALE, and turkish! A lot of emphasis on turkish culture and language. Yes, the school and it's educational concepts are great, it is a great learning ground due to small class ratios and discipline. As an employee it sucks to be there and the teachers that are still there are there because they need a job, are not certified to teach in a school district, or because they have not found a better paying job!! The teachers that do anything after working hours or weekends do it because they feel forced and yes they do it because they care for the kids too but mostly because if admin asks u to do something and u say no they can bring that up at the end of the school year to let u go for being uncooperative or having negative attitude. And the working visas, the amount of turkish teachers and their wives living and working at HSA around Texas is very suspicious! Turkish teachers never got penalized or fired they just get transfered to another HSA in another city...how convinient. I believe part of what is being alleged on this website but would hate for it ALL to be true!

The Perimeter Primate said...

Re non-imported teacher dissatisfaction.

A friend of mine served as a district consultant to a Gulen charter school in California. He/she told me that when he/she would visit that school, one of the non-imported teachers would pull him/her aside and whisper, "Please help me. I've got to get out of here."

A lot of teachers suffer through their employment at these schools because it's such a bad job market.

As far as the accuracy of the things I've posted on this website, I invite you to investigate and explore the issues and sources yourself. I only assemble information that is publicly available, and nothing is being made up.

Anonymous said...

I'm just looking at the San Antonio Harmony Science Academy. Doing research, I have found many articles regarding the Turkish founders, public funding, accusations of using Turkish immigrants w/o proper visas, and using tax dollars for the Islamic Gulen movement, and other inappropriate uses of government funding.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/education/07charter.html?pagewanted=all

The wiki also has info that outlines the FBIs investigation (footnotes 9&10):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony_Science_Academy

Anonymous said...

Wow a friend told me her cousins kids go to harmony in San Antonio and that they loved it, so I should look into it. My neighbors 2 daughters have been going there since it opened and they are very smart. I was thinking about sending my son who shows signs of gifted and talented. I am not satisfied with the public schools and have had my older son in catholic school which turned out to be to costly. By the way public and private schools are constantly asking you to do so many fund raisers its like having a sales job. So back to the subject I was interested in giving my younger son a better head start in life by putting him in a charter school but after reading all these blogs I am scared to think of the ulterior motives of the charter schools. I feel that we should learn other cultures and religions and traveling is a great way to broaden your horizons but if it is being taught to persuade the young minds of are next generation to:

The purpose of the trips is to
1. increase the students' allegiance to Turkey,
2. conduct more subtle Gulenist brainwashing, and
3. to create an opportunity for the Gulenists to form tight bonds with the travelers.
Then that is just unacceptable. And it is true about the teachers having no where else to go and that is why they stay at the charter schools. I have several friends that are stuck at there charted schools for the same reason. No other jobs.

Anonymous said...

I just transfered to a harmony school recently, because of my parents. I've gone to public school all my life and loved it, but harmony has too many rules and no actual reason for them. dps points are weird. and no offense, but the food is terrible, anyone know where it comes from?