|Harmony Science class researching a hovercraft: Note, many high schools do this in America|
|Obvious Turkish design to the buildings|
The free trips to Turkey and the campaign contributions given to our Texas Legislators by the Gulenists are highly troubling and leave taxpayers wondering how objective can our Legislators actually be about their votes on these charter school bills that financially enable the spread of Gulen charter schools. Is this yet another example of “pay for votes”? -- Donna Garner
6.7.11 -- BREAKING NEWS:
MAJOR INVESTIGATION OF GULEN CHARTER SCHOOLS BY NEW YORK TIMES
When the New York Times decides to do investigative journalism, they have the resources and staff to find things out that few others can discover. I am sure you will want to go to this NYT link to view the photos and other graphics which will give you more of an understanding about the Gulen charter schools:
The NYT, however, also has shortcomings because of its left-leaning political bias that has kept their reporters from including very important aspects of the dangers of Fethullah Gulen and his Gulen charter schools.
Below the NYT article, I have posted links to other articles that explain the many dangers of Fethullah Gulen and his indoctrination of our nation’s youth into Islam, Sharia law, and anti-Americanism.
Fethullah Gulen is an Islamist imam who has been behind the successful efforts in Turkey to turn that country into an armed camp that is now anti-American. Its security police force has been almost totally infiltrated by Gulenists, and Turkey is on the verge of joining up with the rest of the Muslim world against the United States and Israel.
As we speak, our Texas Legislature is in Special Session and is moving toward providing even more funding for Gulen charter schools. A faithful few, such as Peyton Wolcott, are trying to convince Legislators to look more deeply into the financial “payoffs” that Gulen has given to elected officials.
Please go to this link to see who has taken free trips to Turkey and/or reaped huge campaign contributions from Gulen-controlled entities. Is it any wonder that these Texas Legislators are promoting the establishment of more Gulen schools in our state?
Peyton Wolcott is presently leading an effort to force the Texas Legislature to include in its pro-charter-school bills three safeguards to protect the Permanent School Fund which by law in Texas is supposed to be used for students’ textbooks. The Legislature is trying to take some of the PSF funds and make those dollars available for charter school bonds, including more Gulen charter schools.
Wolcott has made the case that all charter schools should (1) have to show proof of U. S. citizenship for board members (e.g., ISD trustees) and top administrators; (2) post online the names, titles, and bios of board and top administrators, and (3) post their checkbook registers online so that taxpayers will know how their tax dollars are being spent.
ACTION STEP: If you are a fellow Texan, you must contact your legislators and alert them to the alarming content of this NYT article, to the links posted under the article, and to the safeguards that Wolcott and others are trying to get the Legislators to include in the charter school bills.
Please go to this link to read the entire article in the New York Times:
6.6.11 - “Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas” by Stephanie Saul --
Here are important excerpts from the article. I have placed my own comments within the article in brackets:
The secret lay in the meteoric rise and financial clout of the Cosmos Foundation, a charter school operator founded a decade ago by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. Operating under the name Harmony Schools, Cosmos has moved quickly to become the largest charter school operator in Texas, with 33 schools receiving more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds…
[Fethullah Gulen is actually an Islam imam who believes in Sharia law and wants to establish a universal caliphate. -- Donna Garner]
…But an examination by The New York Times of the Harmony Schools in Texas casts light on a different area: the way they spend public money. And it raises questions about whether, ultimately, the schools are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement — by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture…
“It’s basically a mission of our organization,” said Soner Tarim, the superintendent of the 33 Texas schools.
…Even so, records show that virtually all recent construction and renovation work has been done by Turkish-owned contractors. Several established local companies said they had lost out even after bidding several hundred thousand dollars lower.
…Harmony’s history underscores the vast latitude that many charter school systems have been granted to spend public funds.
…Last year, the inspector general’s office in the federal Education Department cited these complaints in a memo alerting the agency of “our concern about vulnerabilities in the oversight of charter schools.”
The Texas Education Agency has a total of nine people overseeing more than 500 charter school campuses. “They don’t have the capacity at the state level to do the job,” said Greg Richmond, president of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Even so, the state’s education commissioner, Robert Scott, last year took the unusual step of granting Harmony permission to open new schools outside the normal approval process.
Officials at the education agency said staffing was sufficient to oversee charter schools. They would not discuss Harmony’s contracts, but a check of the agency’s past audits — largely desk reviews of financial statements submitted by the schools — did not find any alarms raised about Harmony contracting.
In April, however, the agency notified Harmony of an unreleased preliminary audit questioning more than $540,000 in inadequately documented expenses, the vast majority involving federal grant money. Neither the agency nor Harmony would disclose details of the findings.
…David Bradley, a member of the Texas Board of Education, served on the panel that reviewed the early charter proposals. “The only requirement was that you expressed an interest,” he said, adding, “The first time Harmony came forth, they had a great application, and they were great people.”
One of those people was Yetkin Yildirim, who had arrived from Turkey in 1996 to attend the University of Texas in Austin. He also worked as a volunteer tutor in local high schools. The idea for the Harmony schools was born, he said, when he and friends — including Dr. Tarim — saw how much less rigorous the American high schools were in teaching science and math.
…The schools represented the expansion of a mission that had already created hundreds of schools — and a number of universities — in Turkey and around the world. According to social scientists who have studied them, these schools have been the primary vehicle for the aspirations of the Gulen movement, a loose network of several million followers of Mr. Gulen, who preaches the need to embrace modernity in a peace-loving, ecumenical version of Islam. At the center of his philosophy is the concept of “hizmet” — public service.
…Mr. Gulen, 70, considers his teachings a bulwark against Islamic extremism. Yet he and the movement that bears his name have been surrounded by controversy in Turkey. He came to this country in 1999 while under pressure from secular Turkish authorities who accused him of promoting an Islamic state. He was charged, though the case was thrown out. More recently, the arrests of Turkish journalists critical of the Gulen movement have led to accusations of retaliation by followers in the current government, which has a more religious leaning.
Mr. Gulen now lives in a Pennsylvania retreat owned by a foundation.
…The creation story has been enacted across the country — Turkish immigrants, often scientists or professors, founding charter schools run by boards of mostly Turkish-born men. Today the United States has more Gulen-inspired schools than any country but Turkey, according to a presentation by Joshua Hendrick, a professor at Loyola University Maryland whose 2009 dissertation explored the movement.
In Texas, Harmony now educates more than 16,000 children. Eight schools have opened in the last year alone.
…At first, Harmony Schools used a mix of local American and Turkish immigrant contractors. But as it has grown, especially in the rush of new schools, Harmony has increasingly relied on its Turkish network.
…But a review of contracts since January 2009 — 35 contracts and $82 million worth of work — found that all but 3 jobs totaling about $1.5 million went to Turkish-owned businesses.
…Since Texas charter schools do not get separate public money for facilities, Harmony’s construction program is financed by bonds that will be paid off over time using regular public payments to the schools, bond documents show. The group has issued more than $200 million in bonds since 2007, making it the state’s largest charter school bond issuer.
[The Texas Legislature is presently considering charter school legislation that would allow the Permanent School Funds to be used to pay for charter school bonds, including Gulen charter schools. -- Donna Garner]
…The job went to Atlas Texas Construction and Trading, even though its bid was several hundred thousand dollars higher. Atlas, with offices in Texas and Turkey, shows up on a list of Gulen-affiliated companies in a 2006 cable from the American Consul General in Istanbul, Deborah K. Jones, that was released by WikiLeaks.
…Harmony Schools asked two architects to analyze the disputed Austin jobs. Both architects had previously worked for Harmony Schools; both concluded that the jobs should have been awarded to Atlas.
Atlas has an eclectic business portfolio: for several years, it has also supplied breakfast and lunch at many Harmony schools. The contract is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
…And while the schools’ combined math and English SAT scores — an average of 1026 — were 37 points above the statewide average last year, they fell short of the 1100 on those two parts that the state regards as predicting “college readiness.”
[In other words, Harmony students do well at mastering how to “play the game” on the state-mandated TAKS tests but fall short on actual college readiness. Other troubling aspects to consider regarding Harmony students’ supposed academic “success” is
(1) nobody monitors these Harmony Schools during the administration of tests. What is to prevent these H-1 visa teachers who are from Turkey and who have no commitment to the American value system to give their students the answers?
(2) The Wikileaks cable from the U. S. Ambassador several years ago revealed that the Gulenists are taking over the Turkish Security Forces by giving applicants the answers to the tests. If this is their mode of operation in Turkey, it very well could be the way they operate here.
(3) Dr. Ed Fuller’s research showed that over half of the students who start at Harmony leave. This would certainly be a major factor in raising their TAKS scores -- weed out the weak students. -- Donna Garner]
…but most of its foreign teachers are Turkish men, and all but a handful of the 33 principals are men from Turkey. In addition to the standard foreign languages, the schools offer instruction in Turkish. They encourage students and teachers, even parents, to join subsidized trips to Turkey.
… “I’m not a follower of anybody,” Dr. Tarim said in an interview. Records show, however, that when applying to the State of Texas to form Harmony schools, he was a consultant to Virginia International University in Fairfax, one of the private universities that lawyers for Mr. Gulen say were originally inspired by his teachings.
…“The main purpose right now is to show the positive side of Islam and to make Americans sympathize with Islam,” Dr. Yavuz said.
Teachers and Visas
Around the country, the most persistent controversy involving the schools — and the one most covered in the news — centers on the hundreds of Turkish teachers and administrators working on special visas.
The schools say they bring in foreign teachers because of a shortage of Americans qualified to teach math and science. Of the 1,500 employees at the Texas Harmony schools this year, Dr. Tarim said, 292 were on the special “H-1B” visas, meant for highly skilled foreign workers who fill a need unmet by the American workforce.
…The American jobs, often offered to educators at Gulen schools around the world or graduates of Gulen universities, also provide a way for the movement to expand its ranks in this country, Dr. Yavuz said.
American consular employees reviewing visas have questioned the credentials of some teachers as they sought to enter the country. “Most applicants had no prior teaching experience, and the schools were listed as related to” Mr. Gulen, a consular employee wrote in a 2009 cable. It did not say which schools had hired the teachers. Some with dubious credentials were denied visas.
…The heart of the movement’s Texas operations is the Turquoise Center, a Houston complex that houses several foundations established by Gulen followers. Their activities show how the movement has integrated itself into life in Texas, often by dint of the foundations’ connections to the Harmony Schools.
The Turquoise Center opened in 2008, financed partly through donations from Gulen followers, who on average tithe 10 percent of their income, experts say. The money, Dr. Hendrick wrote in his dissertation, goes “to pay for a student’s scholarship, to provide start-up capital for a new school, to send a group of influential Americans on a two-week trip to Turkey or to sponsor an academic conference devoted to Fethullah Gulen.”
Dozens of Texans — from state lawmakers to congressional staff members to university professors — have taken trips to Turkey partly financed by the foundations.
One group, the Raindrop Foundation, helped pay for State Senator Leticia Van de Putte’s travel to Istanbul last year, according to a recent campaign report. In January, she co-sponsored a Senate resolution commending Mr. Gulen for “his ongoing and inspirational contributions to promoting global peace and understanding.”
…Another group at the Turquoise Center, the Institute of Interfaith Dialog, sponsors lectures on interfaith relations and finances the Gulen Institute at the University of Houston, which sponsors graduate scholarships in social work and pays for graduate students to study in Turkey.
The Institute of Interfaith Dialog — founded by Mr. Gulen himself, according to court documents — does not appear to have business dealings with Harmony. But its president, Yuksel Alp Aslandogan, does. Indeed, in 2002, he purchased the former Austin church that became Harmony’s second school.
SUBSTANTIVE RESOURCES ON GULEN SCHOOLS
5.28.11 -- “Return of Islamic College Raises New Questions” by David Lepeska --
5.20.11 -- “Feds Question Schools' Visa Use: Federal Funds Used To Pay for Teachers' Families” by Jennifer Smith Richards --
5.2011 - “Harmony Science Academy, Cosmos Foundation: Evidence of Affiliation with the Gulen Movement” --
5.1.11 “Frog in the Water” by Donna Garner --
4.19.11 -- “Flood of Turkish Teachers Prompts Investigation: Witness Says Feds Looking into Islam-Influenced Network” World Net Daily --
4.11.11 -- “H-1B + K-12 = ? A First Look at the Implications of Foreign Teacher Recruitment” by David North --
4.9.11 -- “Harmony Charter” by Dr. Ed Fuller --
4.5.11 - “Turkish Authorities Launch Raids To Censor Book before Publication”
4.5.11 -- “Texas: Land of Charters and Economic Opportunity” by Peyton Wolcott --
3.30.11 -- “Is Fethullah Gulen Working for the CIA?” by Dr. Aland Mizell --
3.26.11 -- “Gulen Is Indeed a Dangerous Man” by Donna Garner --
3.24.11 -- “Re: FBI Investigation of Gulen Schools (a.k.a., Harmony Science Academies in Texas) by Donna Garner, EducationNews.org --
Here is a YouTube (Parts 1 and 2) by a TV news station in Pennsylvania that tells of the FBI investigation of the Gulen schools in Pennsylvania and across the country:
3.22.11 -- “Young Scholars Charter School Faces Scrutiny over Ties with Islamic Leader” --
2.10.11 -- “Texas Senate Honors Islamist Imam, Fethullah Gulen” by Donna Garner --
The Texas Senate passed SR 85 on Jan. 25, 2011. Guess who was honored: Fethullah Gulen. “WHEREAS, The Senate of the State of Texas is pleased to recognize Fethullah G?len for his ongoing and inspirational contributions to the promotion of global peace and
Here is the link:
The authors of SR 85 are Senators Lucio, Fraser, Huffman, Nelson, and Van de Putte: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/history.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=SR85
Now look at how this action by the Texas Senate was viewed by the people in Turkey http://www.todayszaman.com/news-233740-texas-senate-passes-resolution-commending-fethullah-gulen.html .
3.3.11 -- “7 More Journalists Detained in Turkey” by Sebnem Arsu --
10.17.10 -- “TIZA, an Islamic Public School, Threatens and Intimidates Witnesses in ACLU Lawsuit” --
8.16.10 -- “Fethullah Gulen: Infiltrating the U.S. Through Our Charter Schools?” by Guy Rodgers of Act! for America --
3.29.10 -- “Islamist Gülen Movement Runs U.S. Charter Schools” by Stephen Schwartz --
3.24.11 -- “FBI Launches Investigation of Gulen and His Movement” by Paul L. Williams --
Until you can stand proud and admit you are obvious followers of Fethullah Gulen and are in the Gulen Movement and have been for years--We will continue to refer to you as a Gulen Charter School with STRONG ties to the movement.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, WE SUGGEST YOU TRY AND SUE US. GO AHEAD SEE WHAT HAPPENS IN THE DISCOVERY PHASE. ALL YOUR DOCUMENTS WOULD BE UNDER SUBPEONA. WE WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO SHOW YOUR TRUE FACE.