Friday, July 30, 2010

Grannan: D'oh! College Board report shows apples inferior to oranges

[Guest post by Caroline Grannan – P.P.]

A caveat before you read this post. I am not saying that the dread Frumious Status Quo is a good thing, that improvement isn't needed, that everything is hunky-dory. I am saying that the U.S. educational system is being unfairly blasted based on comparisons that are unsound and invalid.

Alarms are being raised about a new report from the College Board.

Take NPR's coverage as a typical example:

“A new report warns that the United States is falling farther and farther behind other countries in the proportion of adults with a college education. Researchers say the decline could have devastating economic and social consequences for the country.

According to the College Completion Agenda, no more than 40 percent of the U.S. adult population has a college degree, and even though most high school graduates enroll in college, only 56 percent earn an undergraduate degree in six years or less.”

Red alert! Our schools and our teachers are blowing it yet again!

Yet I had some questions about this report, starting with what the proportion of adults in the United States with a college education has been in the past, and the comparisons with other countries. I couldn't find that information in the new report, but it references a 2008 report, and I did find references in that report, “Coming to Our Senses,” also from the College Board. That report says that the U.S. was No. 2 in the world in college completion at some unspecified time in the past, and is now No. 11. It also says that the U.S. led the world in high school graduation throughout most of the 20th century, but by 2005, the U.S. was 21st out of 27 advanced economies in high school graduation.

Well, sorry, that latter claim is bogus. Here's why: In a number of other nations – I don't have the wherewithal to fully research which or how many other nations – students legitimately graduate from high school after fewer years in school than here in the United States. In the Netherlands (as in many nations), students are separated onto vocational vs. academic tracks at middle school age, and students on vocational tracks legitimately graduate from high school after the equivalent of our 10th grade, at age 15 or 16.

Let's compare. In the Netherlands, many students who leave school at the end of the 10th grade are considered legitimate high school graduates. In the United States, all students who leave school at the end of the 10th grade are dropouts. (Those Netherlands students then go on to further advanced vocational training.)

Q: Now, class, can the Netherlands' high school graduation rate be legitimately compared to the U.S. graduation rate? A: No, they can't be compared because the circumstances are entirely different.

I am told that Switzerland has a similar system, and that Japan's vocational tracks graduate even younger. Other countries? Where's the College Board research on that?

OK, now to the college graduation comparisons. The previous discussion raises an initial question: Are we counting those students in the Netherlands who graduate from advanced vocational training as graduates? Expand this question to all other such programs in all other nations. Discuss among yourselves.

And more. Regarding the figures on the percentage of Americans ages 25-34 who have an A.A. degree or higher: A significant percentage of adults ages 25-34 here in California and in the United States are immigrants who came to this country after the age of K-12 education. Are they counted in these figures on college graduates? How many of them are counted, and how do they impact those figures?

Still more: In some (again, an unknown number of) other nations, students attend college at no cost to themselves. In this country, students and their families pay college tuition, a famously significant, life-altering expense.

And more: In other advanced economies, social safety nets put a college student on an entirely different footing in regard to paying his/her own living expenses.

All these caveats make it impossible to accurately or fairly compare U.S. high school graduation rates to other nations' high school graduation rates, and they make it impossible to accurately or fairly compare U.S. college graduation rates to other nations' college graduation rates.

Unfortunately, it would take vast research resources to dig up further information on the education situation in different nations, and it would take data-crunching skills that I lack to present that information as statistics to respond to the College Board claims. The only thing I can say is that the information we do have shows us plainly that the College Board studies are making sweeping statements – parroted by the press – that are not valid.

The irony of the academically, intellectually and methodologically flawed information coming from the College Board, of all organizations, leaps out a bit.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning to love Turkey

Update on February 1, 2011

PLEASE NOTE: Since the original time of this posting last year, one video in this entry has been removed from YouTube by its user, and another has been made "private." Over the past several months -- ever since awareness about the ties between the Gulen movement and their charter schools have been brought to the attention of the American public -- it has been noticed that more and more of previously posted online content (videos, photos, board minutes, etc.) has been removed.


It is likely that neither the prospective parents, nor the people who authorized the petitions of these charter schools, were notified by the founders and administrators about how students would be trained and encouraged to participate in these major activities. It is also likely that most community members don't grasp the fact that there could possibly be a deeper significance about all these American charter school students performing at annual "Turkish Olympiads."

Student training takes place in Turkish language classes and afterschool clubs. It is unknown who is providing the elaborate, glamorous costumes and travel expenses to the various regional Turkish language events. At these charter schools, trips to Turkey and other Turkish activities are routine throughout the year, although the strong Turkish emphasis will not appear written into the language of the original charter school petitions.

Above: Students from Hampden Charter School of Science (Chicopee, Massachusetts).

Above: Students from Horizon Science Academy – Cleveland Middle School (Cleveland, Ohio).

Above: Students from Dove Science Academy Elementary (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma).

Above: Students from River City Science Academy (Jacksonville, Florida).

Above: Students from Beehive Science and Technology Academy (Salt Lake City, Utah), Sonoran Science Academy (multiple schools in Arizona), Magnolia Science Academy (multiple schools in California), Coral Science Academy (multiple schools in Nevada), and Bay Area Technology School (Oakland, California).

Above: Students from Syracuse Academy of Science (Syracuse, New York)

Above: Students from the Georgia and Florida charter schools competing in the Southeast Turkish Olympiad finals in Atlanta.

Above: Students from the School of Science & Technology (San Antonio, Texas)

Above: Winners from the regional Turkish Olympiads held around the world compete at the International Turkish Olympiad in Turkey. Note: hayal = n. dream, fantasy, etc., edin = v. obtain, acquire, etc.

From the official Web site of the International Turkish Olympiad: "...from our land the power of the Turkish language would spread throughout the world.

Read more about the Hizmet volunteers who are fanning out to schools across the globe to work as Gulen missionaries so they can teach children how to do these things in Pioneering Turkish Teachers Realize Long-sought Dream, May 31, 2009, Sunday’s Zaman (a Gulenist publication)

Marking the seventh year of this event, the International Turkish Olympiads is just one of the fruits of the tireless work of self-sacrificing teachers who have moved to different parts of the world, being inspired by the well-known Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah G├╝len, widely considered to be one of the most influential thinkers alive today.
Having witnessed the harmony between the students of those 115 participating countries, despite the fact that they are competing against each other for first place in one of the 14 different categories all requiring mastery in Turkish, one cannot but agree that if global peace is going to be a reality one day, its existence will owe a great deal to those who incessantly communicate their transcendent love, which does not recognize borders or discriminate against anyone.
Walking among those students without even uttering a word, it is impossible not to see the beauty they form together. Students coming from Nigeria, the UK, Yemen, the US, Mexico, Tajikistan, Australia and 108 other countries around the world, hand-in-hand, are the perfect assurance for a better tomorrow… What about the friendship between Iraqi Sazgar Darabek from Sulaimaniya Girls College and American Denise Stacy Uraias from Texas Science Academy?…
The fatigue and pain that needed to be contended with in order for these teachers to deliver a fruitful outcome cannot be underestimated. They made the sacrifice of moving to countries far from Turkey that most of their fellow countrymen have never even heard of and where the climates are not so pleasant…
…Each year, contestants are selected from every country where there is at least one Turkish school by a jury of teachers working at that particular institution...

These Gulen charter schools are not interested in giving their students an exposure to a broad range of nationalities and languages. They are interested in teaching them to develop a love for Turkey.

YouTube contains many, many more videos.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gulen schools and their booming H1B visa applications

This entry has also been posted at Charter School Scandals.
Consider the following (based on the list Top 100 H1b Visa Sponsors In Secondary School Education Since 2008 appearing on 7/23/2010):
  • The Gulen schools and their related organizations account for 31.5% of all H1B visa applications requested by the top 100 secondary school education H1B visa sponsors. (Table 1)
  • Of the top 100 secondary school education H1B visa sponsors, 34 of the 100 sponsors were Gulen schools or their related organizations.
  • A total of 4277 visas were requested by the top 100 sponsors.
  • 1349 of the 4277 applications were submitted by Gulen schools or their related organizations.
  • There were fewer than 100 U.S. schools in this subterranean network of schools operated by Gulen movement missionaries in this same year. Read about the characteristics of these schools here.
  • The Cosmos Foundation, which operates approximately 27 Gulen schools in Texas, ranked #1 with 521 visa applications. These schools are heavily, but not exclusively, staffed with Turkish and Turkic teachers. The administrators and founders are nearly exclusively Turkish males.
  • To contrast, Global Teachers Research Resources (a teacher headhunting organization) ranked #2 with 325 visa applications. GTRR’s newsletters reveal a wide range of teacher nationalities.
  • Further investigation is likely to reveal that close to 100% of the visa applications of the Gulen schools and their related organizations will be for individuals from Turkey.
  • Public school districts also applied for visas. In fact, seven of the top-20 largest school districts in the country were also top-100 sponsors for visa applications. These seven districts represent nearly 2,900,000 students attending approximately 3,831 schools. (Table 2)
  • When averaged, seven of the top-20 largest school districts in the country submitted one H1B visa application for every 6.2 schools.
  • The average number of visa applications for the Gulen schools was 13.5 H1B visa applications per school!
The hypothesis which has been presented elsewhere in the blogosphere is that the Gulenists operating the charter schools and their related organizations use “teacher shortage” as their rationale for bringing more and more fellow Hizmet volunteers (A.K.A. Gulen missionaries) into the U.S. It is important to note that – unlike a more typical teacher headhunting organization – these schools exclusively seek only those foreign teachers who are Turkish or Turkic, and primarily male. And as more and more Gulen schools are established, the number of Gulen missionaries working as Turkish charter school teachers -- courtesy of all those H1B visas -- can continue to grow. Ten more Gulen charter schools are scheduled to open this coming fall.*
EIN = Federal
Employer ID Number*
H1B Visa Applications
Cosmos Foundation dba Harmony Science Academy
~30 charter schools in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Tennessee
Cosmos Foundation [dba Harmony Public Schools
Same as above
Riverwalk Education Foundation
4 charter schools in Texas, dba School of Science & Technology
Pelican Educational Foundation [dba Abramson Science & Technology Charter School]
2 charter schools in Louisiana
Dove Science Academy [dba Sky Foundation]
3 Gulen charter schools in Oklahoma, plus one attempt in Arkansas
Lisa Academy
2 charter schools in Arkansas, under Little Scholars of Arkansas (LISA) Foundation
Dove Science Academy Oklahoma City
2 charter schools in Oklahoma
Sonoran Science Academy (also dba Daisy Education Corporation)
8 charter schools in Arizona
2, possibly 3, charter schools in Missouri
Horizon Science Academy Dayton High Sc
Single charter school in Ohio
Beehive Educational Services
Single charter school in Utah
Horizon Science Academy

Unspecified number of charter schools in Ohio
Fulton Science Academy
3 charter schools in Georgia
Magnolia Educational and Research Foundation
12 charter schools in California
Hampden Charter School Of Science
Single charter school in Massachusetts
Paterson Charter School For Sci&tech
Single charter school in New Jersey
Paragon Education
Single charter school in AZ; affiliated with Daisy Educational Corporation dba Sonoran Science Academy
Operates a private Gulen school in NJ (Pioneer Science Academy A.K.A. Pioneer Academy of Science); sometimes written “Milkyway”
See other “Millennium” organization above
River City Education Services (FL)
Involved with schools in FL; some sort of relationship to the Grace Institute
Cosmos Foundation Inc, Dba Harmony School Of Innov
See Cosmos Foundation above
Horizon Educational Services Of Columbus
Single charter school in Ohio (?)

wellspring cultural educational foundation
This may be the organization which oversees Putnam Science Academy, a private boarding school in Connecticut, More notes below.
Brooklyn Amity School
A private Gulen school in NYC, described as a Turkish school by Today’s Zaman
Chicago Math. And Sci. Acdmy. Charter Sch
Single charter school in IL
Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School
Single charter school in NY
Horizon Science Academy Cleveland High School

Single charter school in OH
Burlington American Turkish Org
For teacher positions in NJ; unspecified school
Daisy Education [dba Sonoran Science Academy]
Daisy Education Corporation, see #26 above
Chicago Math. & Science Academy Char. School, Inc
Single charter school in IL (Chicago Mathematics and Science Academy Charter School Inc)
Sonoran Science Academy-davis Monthan
see SSA ranked #26
Single charter school in AZ;
Sonoran Science Academy Broadway
Sonoran Science Academy Broadway This SSA has its own EIN
Horizon Science Academy Elementary School
Single charter school in OH
Horizon Science Academy Toledo
Single charter school in OH

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I "heart" Dave Obey

The Fiscal Times' Washington Editor Eric Pianin talked to Rep. David R. Obey (WI), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday, July 13, in his office at the Capitol. Here are some excerpts, but it's definitely worth reading the full story:

“I have been working for school reform long before I ever heard of the secretary of education, and long before I ever heard of Obama,” Obey told The Fiscal Times in an interview this week in his office in the Capitol. “And I’m happy to welcome them on the reform road, but I’ll be damned if I think the only road to reform lies in the head of the secretary of education.”

* * * * *

While Duncan had been praising Obey’s efforts to boost teacher funding, the cut prompted the White House veto threat, which singled out “Race to the Top” and $300 million in cuts to other programs the administration called “education reform.”

“When we needed [to cut] money, we committed the cardinal sin of treating him like any other mere mortal,” Obey said of Duncan, noting that the bill would still net the Department of Education nearly $15 billion.

* * * * *

For sure, the curmudgeonly Obey is no stranger to political jousting. The son of a roofing factory worker who grew up in rough-hewn Wausau, Wis., Obey was attracted to politics by older New Deal Democrats and anti-Vietnam War liberals. Since his arrival in Washington as a youthful lawmaker in 1969 at the start of the Nixon administration, Obey has leveled salvos at Republican and Democratic presidents alike. He vigorously opposed President Bill Clinton’s North American Free Trade Agreement and derided his health care plan for falling well short of the need. In 2006 he dismissed President George W. Bush’s budget as “wrong-headed and embarrassing.” He dubbed President Obama a “crown prince” shortly after Obama’s 2008 election, and in April 2009 warned the president that he would not provide a blank check for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The House version of the bill still has to get approved by the Senate, and other things might shift, but if you would like to express your gratitude and give support to Congressman Obey, you can write to him or call his office. He only accepts constituents' emails.

UPDATE: Yikes! I just learned something that tells me I might need to sit on this for a few more weeks.

Congressman Dave Obey

2314 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515-4907

Phone: (202) 225-3365