|Turkish Scholars (wink-wink) open up charter schools in Texas and help to replicate the model to other states|
Although this article is 1 year old, it speaks volumes about the fact the Gulen Charter schools do have "organic" connections and many of the newer charter schools opened by known Gulenists throughout the USA have started at Harmony Science Academy or Magnolia Science Academy, Horizon Science Academy and even Sonoran Science Academy. The lying is done, time to come clean. The schools have since taken the label "Turkish Scholars" off as they were called out to quantify this. They are not "scholars" they have no teaching credentials and most have no education past an equivalent to a undergraduate degree.
A decade ago, a group of Texas university professors and graduate students from Turkey who thought American students were lagging behind in math and science decided to start their own charter school.
The professors had noticed how the college students they taught lacked understanding of the fundamental concepts in the subjects. They also knew there was a shortage of qualified teachers in those disciplines.
"We wanted to create a program to fill that gap," said Soner Tarim, now the superintendent of the Harmony School System. "Why are we falling behind other nations?"
Today there is a Harmony Science Academy in most large Texas cities. The schools enrolled about 7,520 students at 19 campuses in grades K-12 last year. This year the system expanded grades and opened six new schools, boosting enrollment to 12,000.
Individual schools have relatively low enrollments; the largest school had about 700 students last year. But the system's total enrollment surpasses that of many Texas school districts.
Tarim was studying for his doctorate in aquatic ecology at Texas A&M University when he became one of the school's original founders. Other founders included math and science educators from the University of Texas, Rice University and the University of Houston.
Many of those scholars came from outside the country to attend graduate school in the U.S.. The charter school system has also hired many foreign teachers with specialties in those fields to make up for the teacher shortage.
The school's goals are lofty. One brochure says that its mission is to lead students to be "responsible citizens and even Nobel laureates."
Last year, 17 campuses were rated exemplary or recognized, or roughly 90 percent of the schools. The system is run by the Houston-based nonprofit Cosmos Foundation. Cosmos opened its first school in Houston in 2000, followed by one in Dallas four years later.
There are also campuses in Grand Prairie and Fort Worth. Leaders are also planning to open a K-12 school called the Harmony School of Nature in southwest Dallas near Mountain Creek Park and Interstate 20 that will include hands-on outdoor classes.
"It starts with the school culture," said Fatih Ay, superintendent of Dallas-area schools. "It's a high-expectation culture."
Many of the students come from low-income families, and the schools have a high level of ethnic and racial diversity.
On a recent morning at the Grand Prairie Harmony Science Academy, a group of sixth-graders attempted to get a robot over a wall in preparation for a First Lego League competition.
"It's pretty cool because you can create different things," said Luis Brito, 11. "This might come in handy in life if you want to become an engineer."
"You get to use your imagination," said Jakob Nelms, 12. "Let it run wild."
The campus was rated exemplary in 2009. About 53 percent of children enrolled were from economically disadvantaged families, and 76 percent were Hispanic or black.
Charter schools are public schools approved by the state but are subject to fewer state laws than school districts. They are intended to offer school choice and promote innovative instructional approaches.
Many charter schools in Texas have struggled academically under the state accountability system, so the Harmony schools stand out for their ratings
The Harmony schools receive the bulk of funding from the state, based on average daily attendance like other public schools. Harmony also raises money through bond sales. The system also received a Texas High School Project grant, funded by organizations including the Gates Foundation and Dell Foundation.
Because of the shortage of qualified math and science teachers in Texas, Harmony has hired a large number of teachers from foreign countries on H-1B work visas, including many from Turkey. Most of the Harmony teachers are beginning teachers with under five years of experience.
About 20 percent of the system's teachers are international. Tarim said that the school always tries to find qualified American teachers first.
"I think just like any other company we have to look for outside resources," Tarim said.
The TEA has received a handful of complaints related to the Cosmos schools over the years, including concerns that all administrators are male and Turkish, that Turkish teachers were displacing American teachers and that the immigrant teachers were difficult to understand.
Tarim said those complaints were groundless and the system has female administrators. He said he tries to appoint administrators with math and science backgrounds.
Charter schools set up by Turkish scholars have also opened in other parts of the country, including Arizona , New Jersey and Utah. Tarim said Harmony was not affiliated with schools in those states but administrators at the Texas Harmony schools are helping new schools in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri replicate their model.
The schools push students to enter academic competitions in robotics and math. Science fair participation is mandatory. Fourth- and fifth-grade students learn from instructors trained in math or science in addition to their classroom teacher. A pre-engineering curriculum is offered at the high school level. Electives include genetics, logic and environmental science.
The Cosmos Foundation also set up an international science fair competition.
In addition, Harmony received a grant from the federal government to teach Turkish, because it is considered a high-need language.
The schools also promote trips to Turkey for students and parents. Students are also encouraged to participate in Turkish Olympiad competitions.
Melissa Bohannon teaches kindergarten at the Harmony Academy in Fort Worth and her three children attend the school. They participate in Science Olympiad competition and take Turkish folk dancing classes.
"It's small, it's personable and it's like a family," she said. "My kids have benefited from the cultural diversity. People are from everywhere here."
The school also has developed a number of policies and programs that differ from other public schools. All students' families receive home visits and there are weekend tutorials.
The school developed an academic tracking system and Web site for parents to check their children's grades in class, performance on benchmark tests and discipline problems. Discipline is based on the number of points students receive for each behavior problem.
Most of the students transfer from surrounding public school districts. Aleasia Holmes moved her daughter, who is in the ninth grade, from Duncanville schools after she started having behavior problems.
"My daughter was in trouble every day," she said. "It's like a 360-degree change." AREA HARMONY SCHOOLS
Harmony Science Academy a Gulen Charter School
Harmony Science Academy in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico are under the Cosmos Foundation. The Cosmos Foundation ran by Turkish Nationals who are known members of the Gulen Movement have abused many state and federal laws. Cosmos is the largest abuser of H1-B Visas for foreign teachers than the largest school district in America. Scratch your head and wonder why the Gulen Movement is getting away with reverse discrimination? Texas money crosses over state lines to support the other Gulen Managed charter schools, this is WRONG!! DISCLAIMER: If you find some videos are disabled this is the work of the Gulen censorship which has filed bogus copyright infringement rights to UTUBE