U.S. Gulen Schools Organized Crime. Not Benign Religious Movement http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/11/01/u-s-gulen-islamist-schools-organized-crime-not-benign-religious-movement/
Gulen Schools http://gulencharterschools.weebly.com/
List of Gulen Charter Schools in the US http://turkishinvitations.weebly.com/list-of-us-schools.html
July/2016: WSJ: Gulen Movements Charter Schools May Be Caught Up In Turkey-U.S. Standoff http://www.wsj.com/articles/gulen-movements-charter-schools-may-be-caught-up-in-turkey-u-s-standoff-1468967536
Video: 3/2016 Gulen Schools Investigative Press Conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmrAFv33Uzc
Video: Gulen Charter School Scam FBI investigation Money laundering H1-b Visa Fraud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qDbELO12uo
August, 2012: Th Atlantic. 120 American CharterSchools And One Secretive Turkish Cleric http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/08/120-american-charter-schools-and-one-secretive-turkish-cleric/375923/
Video: May,2012: U.S. charter schools tied to powerful Turkish imamhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJvWP7wBkFs
Info on Gulinist Schools. source: 120 American Charter Schools and One Secretive Turkish Cleric – The Atlantic
“One of [the Gulinist Schools in U.S.] most troubling characteristics is that they don’t have a great track record when it comes to financial and legal transparency. In Utah, a financial probe launched by the Utah Schools Charter Board found the Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a Gülen-run charter school, to be nearly $350,000 in debt. Furthermore, as the Deseret News reported, the school’s administrators seemed to be reserving coveted jobs for their own countrymen and women: “In a time of teacher layoffs, Beehive has recruited a high percentage of teachers from overseas, mainly Turkey.”
Even more unnervingly, the school’s money—public funds from the local community—was being donated to Gülen-affiliated organizations and used to pay the cost of bringing teachers to Utah from Turkey. To illustrate the level of fiscal mismanagement, the school spent about 50 cents to pay the immigration costs of foreign teachers for every dollar that it spent on textbooks. In 2010, after being the first charter school in Utah history to be shuttered, Beehive appealed the decision and was reopened the same year.
There are similar stories from other states. In Texas, where 33 Gülen charter schools receive close to $100 million a year in taxpayer funds, the New York Times reported in 2011 that two schools had given $50 million to Gülen-connected contractors, including the month-old Atlas Texas Construction and Training, even though other contractors had offered lower bids. It was the same thing in Georgia, where Fulton County audited three Gülen schools after allegations that they’d skipped the bidding process altogether and paid nearly half a million dollars to organizations associated with the Gülen movement.
The Gülen movement is known for its secrecy. But when it comes to the Gülen charter schools, the lack of transparency is part of a larger problem that has nothing to do with the Turkish-based organization. Diane Ravitch, education professor at New York University and Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, writes about this larger transparency issue in her latest book, Reign of Error, explaining, “In 2009, New York Charter School Association successfully sued to prevent the state comptroller from auditing the finances of charter schools, even though they receive public funding. The association contended that charter school’s are not government agencies but ‘non-profit educational corporations carrying out a public purpose.’” The New York State Court of Appeals agreed with the organization in a 7 to 0 vote. It took an act of legislation from the state—specifically designed to allow the comptroller to audit charter schools—for this to change.
Ravitch also writes of a similar instance in North Carolina in which the state, urged on by lobbying giant ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), proposed the creation of a special commission, composed entirely of charter school advocates, as a way for charter schools to bypass the oversight of the State Board of Education or the local school boards. Ravitch writes, “The charters would not be required to hire certified teachers. Charter school staff would not be required to pass criminal background checks. The proposed law would not require any checks for conflicts of interest—not for commission members or for the charter schools.” In other words, it isn’t the Gülen movement that makes Gülen charter schools so secretive. It’s the charter school movement itself.
This comes across in the latest news story related to the Gülen schools: an FBI raid last month on the headquarters of over 19 Gülen-operated Horizon Science Academies in Midwest. According to search warrants obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, federal authorities were interested in gathering general financial documents and records of communication. The warrant specifically mentions something called the E-rate program—a federal program that, according to the Sun-Times, “pays for schools to expand telecommunications and Internet access.” A handful of the Gülen-affiliated contractors assisting the schools were receiving money from this federal fund. It’s difficult speculate what this could all mean, as all documents pertaining to the investigation, save the warrants themselves, have been sealed from the public.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State Board of Education has launched its own probe of the nearly 20 Gülen-associated charter schools in its state. As part of the investigation, four former teachers from Horizon Academy (the particular name of the Gülen charter school chain in Ohio) gave testimony. The teachers mentioned issues as disturbing as cheating on state tests, unsafe building conditions, overcrowding, and even sexual misconduct. One of the teachers, Matthew Blair, had previously tried to contact the state’s Department of Education in order to file complaints, but hadn’t heard back from officials. Board president Debe Terhar assured the teachers, “Your concerns have not fallen on deaf ears. We hear you, and we will move forward with making sure this thing is investigated.”
“A Gülen organization controls the real estate companies that own their schools. They charge rent to their own schools and tax-payers foot the bill. They refuse to answer public records requests, falsify attendance records, and cheat on standardized tests. Yet, Ohio continues to grant them charters to operate.” He added, “It doesn’t hurt that the Gülen organization is politically active and treats state politicians to lavish trips abroad.” But overall, he said, “this Wild West atmosphere of few regulations creates incestuous relationships among politicians, vendors, and schools. Charter schools like Gülen’s give generously. In return, they are allowed to keep their saloons open and serve whatever they want. The only way to save the charter school system is to start over again by using the model of effective public schools.”
But the problem with Gülen schools isn’t that they’re connected to a particular religious movement (although some might object to public funds making their way to any religious institution). The problem is that they participate in a system that gives every incentive to keep their financial dealings under wraps. Charter schools were designed to provide a certain amount of autonomy, and many schools have successfully walked the line between public responsibility and private innovation. But there are vulnerabilities built into the system, and one is a reduced oversight that enables schools to move vast amounts of public funds into private hands. The Gülen movement, with its foreign origins and mysterious leader, …make for a particular intriguing story.”
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