The charter school movement was presented to the American people as a way to have more parental control over public school education. Charter schools are public schools financed by local taxpayers and federal grants.
Charter schools are able to hire and fire teachers, administrators and staff and avoid control by education department bureaucrats and the teachers unions. No doubt there are some good charter schools, but loose controls have allowed a very different kind of school to emerge.
Charter schools have opened up a path for foreigners to run schools at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers, without much news coverage. One of the few breakthroughs in the media was a June 7, 2011, front-page article in The New York Times, which carried over to two full inside pages, about the many charter schools run by a secretive and powerful sect from Turkey called the Gulen Movement.
Headed by a Turkish preacher named Fethullah Gulen who had already founded a network of schools in 100 other countries, this movement opened its first U.S. charter school in 1999. Gulen's schools spread rapidly after he figured out how to work our system and get the U.S. taxpayers to import and finance his recruitment of followers for his worldwide religious and social movement.
The Gulen Movement now operates the largest charter school network in the United States. It has at least 135 schools, teaching more than 45,000 students in at least 26 states, financed by millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars a year.
The principals and school board members are usually Turkish men. Hundreds of Turkish teachers (referred to as "international teachers") and administrators have been admitted to the United States, often using H-1B visas, after claiming that qualified Americans cannot be found.
In addition, the Gulen Movement has nurtured a close-knit network of businesses and organizations run by Turkish immigrants. These include the big contractors who built or renovated the schools, plus a long list of vendors selling school lunches, uniforms, after-school programs, web design, teacher training, and special education materials.
Several other news sources have started to publish information about the Gulen charter schools. In Ohio, an NBC-TV station reported that Ohio taxpayers' money was used to recruit teachers for charter schools from overseas, especially from Turkey.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Turkish scientists, engineers and businessmen have opened several charter schools in Pennsylvania, plus 120 charter schools in 25 states, funded with millions of taxpayer dollars. Just one charter school, called the Truebright Science Academy, received $3 million from the Philadelphia School District.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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