by Bill Korach www.thereportcard.org
The 135 charter schools associated with the Gulen Movement (GM) enroll more than 45,000 students and comprise the largest charter school network in the United States — all of which are fully funded by American taxpayers. Fethullah Gulen has been under investigation by the government since 2011. Although the GM and the Muslim Brotherhood ( MB) are not known to be linked, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a known terrorist front group that has succeeded in influencing public education in America.
That investigation, carried out by FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education, is centered around charter school employees who are allegedly engaged in kicking back part of their salaries to the Muslim movement also known as Hizmet (service to others), founded by Gulen. Gulen initiated his movement in Izmir, a city on Turkey’s Aegean coast, more than 40 years ago, preaching impassioned sermons to his followers, who may now number as many as six million. In Turkey, the Gulen Movement has been accused of pushing for a hardline Islamic state. In recent years, Turkey has moved for more towards an Islamic State that is a sharp departure from the secular government in charge for nearly 90 years. Despite this reality, government officials investigating the kickback scheme are apparently satisfied that there is no religious agenda being disseminated in America. Their investigation is centered around the hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators, and other staffers employed under the H1B visa program, who may or may not be misusing taxpayer money.
Gulen fled Turkey under charges that he was trying to overthrow the secular government and relocated to the United States where he lives on a 28 acre estate in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.
The Gulen Movement (GM) and Gulen schools are cloaked in secrecy. The three major concerns about the Gulen Schools are that they are operated and staffed by overwhelmingly Turkish emigrants, they may be misusing taxpayer money and that they are illegally promoting Islam to Public School students.
According to Sharon Higgins in a March 27 story Washington Post
The concerns raised about the charter schools in the GM network have related to questionable admissions practices; the channeling of school funds to close associates; abuse of contractors; participation in biased, GM-created competitions; incidents of bribing; using the schools to generate political connections; science fair projects being done by teachers; unfair hiring and termination practices; and more. Still, authorizers continue to approve charter applications, ill-informed parents continue to use them, and taxpayers keep funding the schools – all without much discussion.
The Gulen Movement originated in Turkey in the late 1960s and has become increasingly powerful. Its members are followers of Fethullah Gulen (b. 1941) a self-exiled Turkish preacher who has been living on a secluded compound in rural Pennsylvania since 1998. Members call themselves hizmet, meaning “volunteer services” movement. The GM conducts four primary activities around the world: a media empire, business organizations, an enormous number of Turkish culture-promoting and interfaith dialog organizations, and a network of schools in over 100 countries, a large portion of which are U.S. charter schools.
Higgens goes on to say that Gulen Schools try to obscure their origins and goals:
The movement’s secretive nature has been troubling to outsiders, and even “mindboggling” to some who know them well. As one expert stated, “… [the Gulen Movement’s] structure, ambitions, and size remain opaque, making assessment of its impact and power difficult…,” and added, “Fethullahci are often loath to declare themselves openly as such.” Another noted, “…some [Fethullah Gulen Community] members publicly deny affinity or membership with the movement.” And a Turkish observer remarked, “No society would tolerate this big of an organization being this untransparent.” When the GM has been exposed involuntarily or criticized, it has been known to respond with evasive measures or defensive attacks.
Because of our charter school system, the United States is the only country where the Gulen Movement has been able to establish schools which are fully funded with public money. In other countries the movement’s schools are private, supported with tuition and himmet. A researcher explained that himmet is a religious donation collected from members who are assured “…that it goes to a ‘faithful’ cause (e.g., 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, to sponsor an ‘academic’ conference devoted to Fethullah Gulen, etc).”
A June 6, 2011 investigation by the New York Times also questions the goals and the use of public money by the Gulen Schools.
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.
Harmony Schools officials say they scrupulously avoid teaching about religion, and they deny any official connection to the Gulen movement. The say their goal in starting charter schools — publicly financed schools that operate independently from public school districts — has been to foster educational achievement, especially in science and math, where American students so often falter.
According to Front Page Mag there have been reports of mandatory Islamic studies at the Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove, MN even though school officials deny this.
Operators of Gülen-based charter schools stress over and over that their charters hew to state-mandated curriculums. Yet in Inver Grove Heights, MN, a substitute teacher named Amanda Getz claims the Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) maintained no separation between academics studied during school and Islamic studies afterward. She also claims she was instructed to take students in fours to the bathroom for “ritual washing” before lunch on Fridays (the Muslim holy day), after which, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap” led the students in Muslim prayers. She further revealed that while religious instruction is not part of the “school day,” most students stay after — perhaps because school buses don’t leave until the Islamic studies are over.
With $100 Million spent in taxpayer dollars on Gulen Schools, many questions need to be answered