“Gulen Turkish Harmony Charters – Not Superior Academically”

Nov 14, 2013 by

“Gulen Turkish Harmony Charters – Not Superior Academically”

by Donna Garner –

 

Yesterday the Washington Post contained an article (link and excerpts posted at the bottom of this page) about the Harmony Charter Schools that are trying to gain approval to open a charter school in Washington, D. C.   

 

Harmony Charters are tied to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Imam who believes in Sharia law.  Unfortunately, Texas leaders have been given free trips to Turkey where they have been “wined and dined” by Harmony.  In turn, these leaders have come back to Texas and have passed legislation allowing the Harmony Charters to proliferate around the state.

 

What these leaders claim is that Harmony Charters are academically superior schools, but are they really?  Until the 2013 Accountability Ratings were published by the Texas Education Agency, nobody really knew.  Now we do.  

 

Each of the 38 Harmony Charter campuses in Texas had the potential of receiving three Distinction awards – one in Reading/ELA, one in Math, and one in Top 25%. (Please see the information further on down this page that explains the TEA’s rating system.) 

 

Out of 38 campuses with 114 opportunities to receive Distinction awards (38 x 3), only 46 Distinction awards were given to Harmony Charters.  That means Harmony Charters did not receive 60% of the 114 possible awards.  

 

Because Harmony Charters market themselves as being “miracle schools,” the onus is on them to prove their academic superiority. Unfortunately, the STAAR/End-of-Course test results do not document this claim. 

 

Two more pieces of information:  First, because of limited funding, the TEA staff has not had the resources to monitor the Harmony Charters on STAAR/EOC test days to make sure that tight security is in place.  Second, I have been told that weak students have been told to stay home on STAAR/EOC test days or even asked to leave permanently. Therefore, the STAAR/EOC test results from the Harmony Charters may be suspect.     

 

Please notice the chart below which details these Distinction awards. It is particularly alarming to see how many of these Harmony Charters did not excel in either Reading/ELA and/or Math. This could be the direct result of a large number of Turkish teachers (many of whom are men newly arrived from Turkey on H-1B visas) who may lack sufficient English proficiency to teach in these charter schools.

 

Based upon these less than stellar results, I believe the Harmony Charters have a great marketing campaign but produce lack-luster academic achievement results in their students.     

 

I also know based upon Harmony Charter’s past track record that they are masters of deceit, knowing how to use our federal and state taxpayers’ dollars to indoctrinate students into a pro-Islam, anti-Christian/anti-Judeo belief system.

 

 

HARMONY SCHOOL DISTINCTION AWARDS

 

NAME OF DISTRICTS AND CAMPUSES

DISTINCTION IN

READING

/ELA

DISTINCTION

 IN

MATH

TOP 25%

TOTAL

“NO”

DISTINCTION

AWARDS

H. SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE — 101858        
H. SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE – 001 NO NO NO   3
H. SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE-END – 002 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – BRYAN/CO – 003 YES YES NO   1
H. SCHOOL OF ADVANCEMENT – HI – 004 YES YES YES   0
H. SCHOOL OF DISCOVERY – HOUS – 005 YES YES NO   1
H. SCIENCE ACAD-HOUSTN – 006 NO NO NO   3
H. SCHOOL OF SCIENCE – HOUSTO — 101862        
H. SCHOOL OF SCIENCE – HOUSTO – 001 YES YES YES   0
H. SCHOOL OF SCIENCE – HOUSTO – 002 YES NO YES   1
H. SCIENCE ACAD (EL PASO) — 071806        
H. SCIENCE ACAD  -EL PASO – 001 NO YES NO   2
H. SCHOOL OF INNOVATION – EL – 002 YES NO NO   2
H. SCIENCE ACAD – WEST HOUSTON – 003 YES YES YES   0
H. SCIENCE ACAD (FORT WORTH) – 220813        
H. SCIENCE ACAD – FORT WORTH – 001 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACAD-GRAND PRAIRIE – 002 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – EULESS – 004 YES YES NO   1
H. SCHOOL OF NATURE & ATHLETI – 005 NO NO NO   3
H. SCHOOL OF INNOVATION – FOR – 006 YES NO YES   1
H. SCIENCE ACAD (LUBBOCK) – 152805        
H. SCIENCE ACAD- LUBBOCK – 001 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – ODESSA – 002 YES YES NO   1
H. SCIENCE ACAD ( SAN ANTONIO) – 015828        
H. SCIENCE ACAD – SAN ANTONIO – 001 NO YES NO   2
H. SCHOOL OF INNOVATION – SAN – 002 NO NO YES   2
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – LAREDO – 003 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACAD ( WACO) – 161807        
H. SCIENCE ACAD – WACO — 001 NO NO YES   2
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – GARLAND – 002 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – DALLAS – 003 NO NO NO   3
H. SCHOOL OF INNOVATION  – DAL – 004 YES YES YES   0
H. SCHOOL OF BUSINESS – DALLA – 005 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – 101846        
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – 001 YES YES YES   0
H. SCHOOL OF INNOVATION – HOU – 002 NO NO NO   3
H. SCHOOL OF INGENUITY – 003 YES NO NO   2
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – BEAUMONT – 004 YES YES YES   0
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – HOUSTON – 005 NO NO NO   3
H. SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS AND TE – 006 YES NO YES   1
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY ( AUSTIN) – 227816        
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – AUSTIN – 001 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACAD – NORTH AUSTIN – 002  YES YES YES   0
H. SCHOOL OF SCIENCE – AUSTIN – 003 YES NO NO   2
H. SCHOOL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE – 004 NO NO YES  2
H. SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE — 101 NO NO NO   3
H. SCIENCE ACADEMY – BROWNSVI — 031803        
H. SCIENCE ACAD –BROWNSVILLE — 001 YES YES YES   0
TOTAL OF “YESDISTINCTION AWARDS   18   14   14   46
TOTAL OF “NO” DISTINCTION AWARDS   20   24   24   68

 

 

EXPLANATION OF DISTINCTIONS COLUMNS

 

I believe the three Distinctions columns are far more indicative of superior performance because they are based upon objective data that rates academic achievement (the primary goal of the public schools.)  The campuses/districts are only compared with their same like-characteristic group of 40.

 

The first column under Distinctions means outstanding academic achievement in English/Language Arts/Reading. 

 

The second column means outstanding academic achievement in Math. 

 

The third column means the campus/district was in the Top 25% of schools among the 40 like-comparison group of campuses.

 

***To see a composite screen of all of the campuses/districts in Texas along with their ratings, please go to this link:  http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/2013/statelist.pdf

 

 

To see the various links on the TEA website to the 2013 Accountability Ratings, here is the link: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/2013/index.html

 

The TEA used a massive spreadsheet to divide up every campus in Texas into groups of 40 so that comparisons can be made among campuses that have like-characteristics (e.g., enrollment, demographics, etc.).  To see the names of the Campus Comparison Groups, please go to this link and type in your search information: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/account/2013/group.srch.html

 

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11.13.13 — “Harmony charter school seeks to expand to D. C. – business practices raised questions” – by Emma Brown – Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/harmony-charter-school-seeks-to-expand-to-dc-business-practices-raised-questions/2013/11/12/df0987aa-4254-11e3-a751-f032898f2dbc_story.html

 

Excerpts from this article:

The largest charter-school operator in Texas, an organization with a solid academic record but lingering allegations of connections to a controversial Muslim cleric, is seeking to expand to the District next year…

 

But Harmony’s business practices have drawn scrutiny. A 2011 investigation published in the New York Times raised questions about whether the charter network has used taxpayer dollars to benefit a social and religious movement led by Fethullah Gulen, an influential Muslim preacher from Turkey who now lives in Pennsylvania…

 

The Texas Legislature investigated Harmony after the report by the New York Times, but legislative staff workers said the investigation ended without a written report.

 

In 2012, the Texas state education agency released an audit showing that Harmony failed to properly document its use of $186,000 in federal funds, or about one-third of the dollars auditors examined for the fiscal year ending in August 2010. “Inadequate internal controls . . . resulted in the misuse of federal funds,” the audit said…

 

Harmony’s application has drawn more attention. Critics have written letters urging the board to reject it, alleging possible ties between the school and Gulen.

 

More than 120 U.S. charter schools are operated by Turkish-born immigrants, and critics have alleged that many have connections to Gulen…

 

The 2011 New York Times report about Harmony said that nearly all Harmony contracts awarded between 2009 and 2011 went to Turkish-owned firms, even when non-Turkish firms put in lower bids…

 

The D.C. Public Charter School Board is scheduled to vote Monday on whether Harmony Public Schools should be allowed to open a science- and math-focused school in Washington in fall 2014. Harmony runs 40 Texas charter schools that enroll more than 25,000 students…

 

All but one of Harmony’s schools met Texas state performance standards in 2013, and officials say the schools have a 100 percent graduation and college-acceptance rate. Although Harmony high school students fell short of the national average on math and reading portions of the 2012 SAT college-entrance exam, they outscored the state average…

 

Founded in 2000 by a group of Turkish-born immigrants, Harmony has won acclaim for its performance in Texas, including from the Obama administration, which awarded Harmony $30 million last year through the Race to the Top grant competition.

 

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7.12.13 – “Turkey’s Inside Man” – by Jill Nelson —World Magazinehttp://www.worldmag.com/2013/07/turkeys_inside_man

 

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6.6.11 – “Charter schools tied to Turkey grow in Texas” – New York Times —  by Stephanie Saul:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/education/07charter.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

 

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This YouTube of Mary Addi telling her story is gripping; and because of her involvement in Loudoun County, Virginia, she was able to help influence the Loudoun County School Board on Feb. 26, 2013, to vote 8 to 1 against opening the Loudon Math and IT Gulen Charter School:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?list=UUPPw4A4ZmhK_e95S2Ka0Xaw&feature=player_embedded&v=DReAWz1mSZo  

 

 

 

 

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Michael Scott

    “I also know based upon Harmony Charter’s past track record that they are masters of deceit, knowing how to use our federal and state taxpayers’ dollars to indoctrinate students into a pro-Islam, anti-Christian/anti-Judeo belief system.”

    Where are you facts to back up your allegations? I have taught in their schools for the past 3 years and have NEVER seen any of these things.

    “Harmony Charters market themselves as being miracle schools.”

    Once again I have never seen any marketing by Harmony that would imply miracle status?

    Sorry Donna, your complaints sound like you have a bone to pick on a personal level. I wonder what they are?

    • Staff

      I am a special ed advocate in Houston. Should I share some of the horror stories with Harmony and the violations. Or, how they forced the after school employees to doctor their time cards.

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