US Gulen Charter Schools Taxpayer Funded – Turkish Islamic Schools in US Under Audit While Imam Fethullah Gülen Exiles in Pennsylvania

Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish imam, considered one of the most influential imams in the world, no doubt due to his brilliant creation of taxpayer funded chartered schools with more than a whiff of Islam in the curricula – in the United States. The experiment started with full U.S. taxpayer funding. Gülen Charters is the largest charter school network in the U.S. There were 134 U.S. Gülen charter schools in 2010, in 26 states with 45,000 students. They continue to receive taxpayer dollars and have the distinction of being the nation’s largest users of H1B visas. Teachers with poor English skills flood into the country on the visas to service Gülen Charter Schools, which churn out students with good aptitude to pass school administered state tests, but less than admirable SATs and ACTs. So many parts of this story are astonishing – that it is happening right under our noses and we are funding Islamic schools, that I don’t want to forget to tell you that Gülen charters in the U.S. are under audit, have defaulted on bonds and misused millions of dollars of grant monies. The Washington Post article below lays out their goals inside the U.S.

Fethullah Gulen, Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania

The schools of the Gülen Movement are scattered across the globe in 140 countries and has millions of followers. Of all places, Uzbekistan says Gülen students end up in Uzbek government offices and

…key institutions to weaken the secular government. They charge that graduates of Turkish schools promote and aggressive form of Islam and even a role for Islam in political life. Source: Radio Free Europe

Fethullah Gülen is described as a “reclusive imam living in the United States, and the Gülen a “secretive movement.”

Fethullah Gülen

New York Times:

But the movement’s stealthy expansion of power — as well as its tactics and lack of transparency — is now drawing accusations that Mr. Gülen’s supporters are using their influence in Turkey’s courts and police and intelligence services to engage in witch hunts against opponents with the aim of creating a more conservative Islamic Turkey. Critics say the agenda is threatening the government’s democratic credentials just as Turkey steps forward as a regional power.

“We are troubled by the secretive nature of the Gülen movement, all the smoke and mirrors,” said a senior American official, who requested anonymity to avoid breaching diplomatic protocol. “It is clear they want influence and power. We are concerned there is a hidden agenda to challenge secular Turkey and guide the country in a more Islamic direction.”

…the Gülen movement has provided indispensable support to the conservative, Islam-inspired government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some officials and analysts suspect that some elements within the Gülen movement have served as a stalking-horse for the government, which has benefited, too, as the Gülen-affiliated media have attacked common opponents and backed trials that Mr. Erdogan has publicly supported.

The West has warily watched as Turkey has moved away from it’s secular past, and with good reason. When Turkey was referred to as a “moderate” Islamis state, Erdogan replied:

These descriptions are ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” On democracy, Erdoğan has said, “Democracy is like a street car; you ride it as far as you need, and then you get off.” About the function of mosques, he said, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.

And so we have Fethullah Gülen living in Pennsylvania in what The New York Times refers to as a “compound.” Four Gülen charters are in my state of Oklahoma, two in my city of Tulsa and two in Oklahoma City. By contrast, Texas has 42 in the state, most of them Chartered by Cosmos/Harmony Academy, as they are in Oklahoma. Most of the schools have the words “Science Academy” “Math and Science Academy,” and “Dove Academy” in their names. See the list here dated June 2010, so there are undoubtedly additions today.

According to Janet Levy at American Thinker, many parents haven’t a clue about the connection of the Gülen Movement to Islam. Here are some telling snippets of her article:

Gülen was able to establish his charter school network in America fully funded by public money.

She [Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes] reported that Turkish teachers are brought in on visas — a practice defended on camera by a Gülen spokesman who stated that the United States needs skilled teachers in math and science.  Ironically, Turkey ranks far below the United States in math and science.

The Gülen schools’ SAT average score of 1026 falls short of the 1100 considered to indicate college readiness.  Former Gülen schoolteachers have reported state testing violations, lack of test monitors, and unqualified individuals administering tests.

There have been complaints of hyped advertising that mislead prospective students and their parents about class size, graduation rates, and college acceptances, especially since most of the schools lack a 12th grade, and the majority of students graduate from other schools.

Washington Post – Valerie Strauss – How Gülen Movement serves Islam’s goals:

Readers of Milliyet were informed in 2010 that the Walton Family Foundation [WalMart, Sams Discount] had given $1 million to Gulen’s charter schools in California (translation here).

And in 2009, readers ofSabah were presented with an account of GM insiders discussing how the U.S. charter schools serve the movement’s goals:

“…through education, we can teach tens of thousands of people the Turkish language and our national anthem, introduce them to our culture and win them over.

And this is what the Gulen Movement is striving for.” GM-associated news agencies periodically feature reports about Gulen charter school students participating in movement-sponsored cultural events (e.g. herehere, and here).

Do a web search for Gülen Movement audit for details (Gulen works as well). Read more at Grumpy Opinions.

Linked at The Winds of Jihad with more information on these charter schools

First photo credit: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times