Posts Tagged ‘Gulen schools’

PAA in the news – major charter and Broad Foundation questions

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Two major stories today feature the work of Parents Across America and, in particular, one of our brilliant Oakland  members, Sharon Higgins. Sharon writes and researches three blogs, The Perimeter Primate, Charter School Scandals, and The Broad Report. Sharon provides cutting edge information and exposes scandals in the corporate education reform movement including charter schools and the Broad Foundation (from whose leadership academy our new CEO, JC Brizard, is a graduate).

Sharon’s work is featured in an article posted in today’s Education Week about the proliferation of graduates from the controversial Broad Academy in school superintendent/CEO positions across the US. Ed Week writes,

“Sharon started a website called The Broad Report in 2009 after her school district in Oakland, Calif., had three Broad-trained superintendents in quick succession, each appointed by the state. She said she grew alarmed when she started seeing principals and teachers whom she called ‘high-quality, dedicated people’ forced out. She contends in her blog that Broad superintendents are trained to aim for ‘maximum disruption’ when they come to a district, without regard for parent and teacher concerns.”

Sound familiar, folks? For more details, read PAA’s “Parents Guide to the Broad Foundation” here.

Stealth charter schools

A second news item today comes from a PAA press release, “Stealth charter network linked to Gulen raises concerns.” PAA is concerned that most parents are unaware that the group running the largest number of charter schools in the US is a cult-like Turkish-based movement centered on their leader, Fethullah Gulen.

Clarifying that this is not about the religious or ethnic identity of the charter operators, but about transparency, the PAA release summarizes a number of recent troubling press stories about Gulen schools, including this:

The Philadelphia Inquirer published two articles in March and April revealing that the Gulen schools are under a multi-agency federal investigation (FBI, Department of Labor, and Department of Education) for possible manipulation of immigration laws and misallocation of taxpayer dollars.

Local Gulen school in Rogers Park

The web site for the Gulen school operating in Chicago, Chicago Math and Science Charter School in Rogers Park, calls itself a “Concept Charter School” and makes no mention of Gulen. The site shows a blank page under “History.”

CMSA is perhaps best known for having fired a pregnant teacher in 2010 who was involved in organizing a union at the school, then defending itself against a labor relations board action by claiming it was a private, not a public school. CMSA has been a top charter school in Chicago, according to test scores, though scores have been trending down. The school also claims a 100% graduate college acceptance rate, yet keeps an extremely low profile compared with the public relations blitz carried out by certain other charter schools with much lower school achievement data.

The school also applied for its CPS charter with a board of directors that at least sounded diverse and representative of the local neighborhood, which is international. The blog “Charter School Scandals” lists the following Board members from its first state tax form:

  • Salim Ucan, principal
  • Clarissa Cerda, president
  • Taner Ertekin, secretary
  • Faruk Guder, treasurer
  • Leticia Herrera – member
  • Donald Jones – member
  • Ji Yong Lee – member
  • William C. McGaghie – member

The most recent board list is:

  • Yavuz Burak Canbolat – board president
  • [Dzafer] Jeff Kulenovic – secretary
  • Ali Yurtsever – board member
  • Murat Surucu – board member
  • Edip Bektas – treasurer
  • Hanefi Tiryaki – board member
  • Suleman F. Dizdarevic – board member

Sharon notes that the board made a transition from 3 out of 8 Turkish/Turkic board members in 2003 to 7 out of 7 in 2010. This pattern has been observed at other Gulen charter schools.

CMSA’s student enrollment is 7.7% white, 26.2% black, 58.6% Hispanic, and 7.5% Asian.

More on CMSA here.

Sharon also tells me that Gulen operates a private school in Niles.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.