Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Turkish charter school piece in USA Today

Greg Toppo’s USA Today article about the Gülen charter schools appeared online on the evening of August 16 and in print the following day: “Objectives of charter schools with Turkish ties questioned.” This is the first time the U.S. Turkish charter school network has been covered in the mainstream national press.
I look forward to continued national and local exposure of these charter schools’ connections to the Gülen Movement. It will be interesting to see if any of the revelations trigger the concern of citizens who are under the impression that their taxes are being spent on providing American kids with a strictly secular public education which is without hidden religious or foreign nationalistic agendas.
Further understanding of the motives and operation of the schools can be found in a paper posted on Fetullah Gülen’s website: “The Educational Philosophy of Fethullah Gülen and Its Application in South Africa." It was presented at a 2007 conference entitled "Muslim World in Transition: Contributions of the Gülen Movement."

Not by coincidence, the first South African school was opened in 1999, which is parallel to the timing of the first American Gulen charter schools. The primary difference is that the South African schools are private schools which subsist on tuition and private donations from Turkish merchants.
Anyone familiar with the U.S. Gulen charter schools will recognize the template.


  • Although the educational theory comes from Fethullah Gülen, the curriculum and management of the schools are left to the educators.
  • The teachers are carefully selected. Those who had a Gülen schooling are preferred as they are more likely to sacrifice their time and talent.
  • The teacher performs one of the highest duties in Islam, hizmet, which implies both religious and national service.
  • …there is no organic link between Gülen and the schools, only a spiritual connection.
  • …The Star International High School [first Turkish private High school, est. 1999, managed by Horizon Educational Trust], to provide a secular education based on the national curriculum, but with emphasis on moral values.*
  • The school also has a Turkish character: the Turkish national anthem is sung, the Turkish flag is in some classrooms, and the Turkish language is taught.
  • Turkish teachers teach scientific subjects, and South African teachers teach English, Afrikaans, Geography and History.
  • New teachers adapt easily to the school as they share in the vision and mission of their leader, Fethullah Gülen.
  • The teacher's duty is to emulate the Prophet's mission captured in the Prophetic Tradition (hadith): "Verily I have been sent to perfect character."
  • New schools require financial backing, usually from Turkish voluntary organizations made up of Turkish merchants.
  • While they [the teachers] are still improving their English, they are not effective communicators, and this is what undermines the efficacy of their teaching.
  • He [the principal] said: "Although not ethical, we have to adopt a strict admissions policy, otherwise we cannot ensure merit and distinction passes…”
  • The Gülen schools have a Turkish character: it is inspired by the educational philosophy of a Turkish religious thinker, Fethullah Gülen; the principal is a Turk, the science teachers are Turks, the foreign language taught is Turkish, the Turkish national anthem and Turkish songs are promoted at school functions.

And to match the many videos of American Gülen charter school students, here is a South African student performing a Turkish poem at a Turkish Olympiad.

From state-to-state, and from nation-to-nation, Gülen-inspired schools have been started by members of the Hizmet Movement (followers of Fethullah Gülen). They are rapidly expanding; for instance, 10 new schools are opening in the U.S. for the 2010-2011 school year. It's obvious to anyone that all these schools are related with many identical features, yet the U.S. charter school leaders seem to always deny a connection.

Why the deception?

*Tuition for Grade 8-12 at Star International Primary and High School in Cape Town is R17,600 (South African rands) = $2,427.71.


The Perimeter Primate said...

UPI article: "Questions asked about charter schools"

"WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- About 100 U.S. charter schools that get high marks for student achievement are under scrutiny for possible ties to a Turkish religious leader, USA Today said..."

The Perimeter Primate said...

Colorado Charter Schools blog: "Turkish-Americans Lead 100 Charter Schools in the U.S."

"About 100 charter schools in 25 states have been questioned for their link to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish peace advocate. The schools emphasize math and science and generally outperform their counterparts...

"The Lotus School for Excellence in Aurora was founded by a group of individuals with connections to Turkey..."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your continued excellent investigative journalism we really appreciate it.
The interesting thing about this Colorado Charter Blog that you list is that it states that Gulen's Lotus School of Excellence was denied an expansion application in another town as the school had FAILED to meet reading and writing test requirements. It seems these Turkish ran schools are not exactly cracked up to be what they claim.

CarolineSF said...

The Gulen-run charter school in the Perimeter Primate's own hometown, Oakland, was also performing poorly last I heard. When its operators applied to open a charter school here in San Francisco, it was rather easy to point out that they were running a segregated, low-performing school in Oakland and we hardly needed a new segregated, low-performing school here in SF too. (Our board turned their school down, and they gave up and went away.) So anyway, the notion that all the Gulen schools are high-performing isn't quite accurate.

Anonymous said...

Good news the Gulen Movement admits to being involved with Harmony Science Academies, Raindrop Turkish House, and Turquoise Council in Texas.

Anonymous said...

I wish I would of researched the Special Education Teacher position I took at, Sonoran Science Academy (Daisy Corp) before I took the job. I have been spied on by Turkish employees, peering in my window, all day throughout the day. The Turk Principal is suspicious of all American teachers and we work without breaks and with minimal supplies. We are "watched over" and micromanaged by an untrusting Principal and she clearly gives her unqualified (without teaching certificates) teachers preferred treatment.
They are out of compliance with special education laws. They ibkt care about their PAC team earning them fundraising money. There interest is NOT children and it shows. American teachers who are qualified have overcrowded classrooms without anyone stepping in to help. Uncertified Turk teachers, here on Visas paid for by American tax money, have manageable classroom sizes. So manageable that one Turk math and science teacher has the time to text the entire duration he's teaching lessons! I have several students to verify this information. One time an American teacher texted during her class time and she was written up for it.
I've been asked to do other responsibilities not related to my job, and as a result our few students with special needs are neglected. All the special needs students at Sonoran came from IEP's from other districts. I've researched records and not one student has been referred through the evaluation process and been proceed through to receive special education services in two years. Really? 10% of all student population have some sort of disability that qualifies them for services. Hmmmm, but not at Sonoran.
Daisy Corporation needs to monitored and regulated. It's nothing but an education system built on fraud, lies, and non compliance issues.