Turkish Schools in Texas Being Investigated by Texas Education Agency

Jan 2, 2012 by

Fethullah Gulen

by Donna Garner

Yesterday the reporters at the San Antonio Express-News published an investigative article about the Turkish Gulen-Cosmos Foundation-Harmony Charter Schools. The article states, “…the TEA [Texas Education Agency] has spent the past several months conducting an audit of roughly $540,000 in ‘inadequately documented’ federal grant funds received by the Cosmos Foundation, TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said.”

The point that the public needs to remember is that these Turkish schools operate on our public money; they are not private schools that have the right to set their own policies.

Underneath the excerpts from the San Antonio Express-News article, I have posted my piece (12.9.11 – “Gulen-Inspired Schools Under Fire”) in which I have included numerous links that tie this whole network of Turkish charter schools together under Fethullah Gulen, an Islamist imam.

On 7.29.11, the Gulenists overthrew Turkey’s previous military leaders and are now instigating Sharia law in that country. This same pattern of step-by-step indoctrination by the Turkish Gulenists is undoubtedly occurring in our own country under the guise of these Turkish charter schools that ironically are using our taxpayers’ dollars to do it.

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/Harmony-schools-causing-discord-2435402.php

Harmony schools causing discord

By Lindsay Kastner, lkastner@express-news.net

Updated 12:17 a.m., Sunday, January 1, 2012

 

Excerpts from this article:

 

The 36 schools that make up the Harmony charter school network are among the highest-rated in Texas.

 

But despite its glowing academic record, Harmony has received a flurry of criticism for its business practices.

 

In particular, the charter network’s reliance on visas for Turkish-born staff and use of Turkish-owned businesses for construction and other contracts has raised questions about how it spends taxpayer money and whether it is too insular.


In just more than a decade, Harmony Public Schools, operated by the Cosmos Foundation of Houston, has grown to become one of the largest charter school networks in Texas, serving about 16,700 students last school year. Two schools, with about 900 students last year, are in San Antonio.

 

Some Harmony critics point to a burgeoning number of Turkish-American-led charter networks in the United States, more than 120 in 25 states, that they say are tied to Islamic political leader Fethullah Gulen

 

From 2008 to 2010, the Labor Department certified 1,197 H-1B visa requests from the Cosmos Foundation — more than double the number of visas certified nationwide for Texas-based computer company Dell USA and about 70 percent as many as were certified for tech giant Apple Inc.


…The visas are intended to attract foreign workers with skills that are in short supply among American workers.

 

Harmony has about 290 employees working on H-1B visas, or 16 percent of its workforce, according to Superintendent Soner Tarim. Most are Turkish, said Tarim, who is also from Turkey.

 

Few other Texas school districts hire significant numbers of workers on H-1B visas.

 

“Staffing Northside schools has never really been a problem,” said Pascual Gonzalez, spokesman for Bexar County’s largest school district with 97,000 students, where Labor Department records show no H-1B visa certifications in recent years. “In the past there have been thousands of people applying for hundreds of jobs.”


At Harmony, Tarim said the charter network finds a shortage of qualified teachers in math, science and English as a second language sometimes prompts them to hire foreign workers.

 

He noted that Harmony’s focus on science and math means particularly high recruiting standards in those areas.

…Nearly a third of the H-1B certifications received by Cosmos actually were for jobs outside those fields, however.


…Some students say they have trouble understanding foreign-born teachers.

 

“One of our teachers … is Turkish,” sixth-grader Noah Nabers volunteered. “And it’s kind of hard to understand him.”

 

…Like most charter school operators, Harmony’s first schools opened in former stores and spaces leased from churches. Harmony still operates some storefront campuses, but over time began to build its own schools using money from the sale of public bonds.

 

Tarim bristled at the implication that the charter network was giving much of its work to a closed circle of Turkish-owned businesses.

 

…eight of the charter network’s 10 largest contracts have gone to just two companies, both of which have close ties to Cosmos: the Houston-based contracting firms Solidarity Contracting and TDM Contracting.

 

Solidarity is run by a former Harmony school business manager, according to a report by the New York Times. TDM was formed a couple of years ago by a former Solidarity employee.

 

Together, the two young companies have received more than $66 million in Cosmos contracts since 2009, records show. The total doesn’t include cost overruns or smaller jobs they might have been awarded.

 

…In response to an open records request, Cosmos provided no criteria used to rank the five firms or information about how such criteria was weighted, saying simply that the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder.


Gulen’s influence

 

Some of Harmony’s harshest critics point to somewhat opaque connections between the charter operator and Gulen, a charismatic religious leader from Turkey who espouses religious tolerance and a moderate brand of Islam from his self-imposed Pennsylvania exile.

 

Tarim laughed a little when asked about the relationship between Harmony and Gulen, which he said is nonexistent.

 

“We get asked this question many, many times,” he said, waving off any connection. “We continue to tell people (there is no tie).”

 

But some former Harmony board members have been involved with the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue, a Houston-based organization with branches in San Antonio and other cities that takes its inspiration from Gulen.

 

One of those men, Harmony founder Yetkin Yildirim, told the New York Times earlier this year that he has been influenced by Gulen. Yildirim helped Tarim start the charter schools after recognizing a laxity in America’s math and science education…

 

Two networks

 

Harmony opened three new campuses in Texas this school year and is on track to enroll 24,000 children by the end of 2012, according to Tarim.

 

The Cosmos Foundation also provides management services to other charter networks.

 

Tarim said Cosmos consults with the School of Science and Technology, a small San Antonio-based charter network run by a nonprofit called the Riverwalk Education Foundation.

 

“We provided help as to how to establish a program,” Tarim explained.

 

Though Cosmos and Riverwalk have separate boards, others referenced a closer tie between the two organizations, referring to their campuses as “sister” schools.

 

The charter networks contract with several of the same businesses, and students and staff seem to frequently move from one organization to another.


Opposition to Harmony, mostly from the conservative, grass-roots Eagle Forum, nearly plunged the state Legislature into a second special session earlier this year after a small group of Republicans voted down a must-pass bill.

 

The legislation included a provision to use money for state public schools to guarantee charter school bonds, potentially saving the Cosmos Foundation tens of millions thanks to lower interest rates.

 

The conservative legislators switched their votes only after striking a compromise that included a resolution to conduct a House investigation of all of the state’s charter schools.

 

Not part of that probe, the TEA has spent the past several months conducting an audit of roughly $540,000 in “inadequately documented” federal grant funds received by the Cosmos Foundation, TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said


Database Editor Kelly Guckian and News Researchers Kevin Frazzini and Julie Domel contributed to this report.

 

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“Gulen-Inspired Schools Under Fire”

by Donna Garner

12.9.11

 

On 12.8.11 reporter Jacqueline Crea of Channel 9, KTSM-TV, El Paso, interviewed me about the Turkish-Gulen-Cosmos Foundation-Harmony Charter Schools:

 

YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vODBdoRzdcU

 

Excerpts from this YouTube:

 

EL PASO- The Harmony Schools in Texas have been accused of indoctrinating Muslim religious beliefs in their curriculum…

Not everyone in the school system is happy with Harmony. Donna Garner, a former teacher in Texas, has been studying these schools for years. She says the schools are a front for an Islamic movement. “They have brought in all these teachers from Turkey, how are they going to teach students about being a good solid American patriot, to learn about the U.S. Constitution, to honor our forefathers, to study the declaration of independence.”

…Garner also recalled a situation at a Harmony School performance in Texas, when students stomped on an American Flag. Whether this is true or not, Harmony Schools insist that they do not teach any Anti-American beliefs.

 

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FBI AND OTHERS INVESTIGATING GULEN SCHOOLS

3.21.11: “FBI Investigating Gulen Schools in U. S.” — http://web.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=american-media-has-discovered-gulen-charity-schools-2011-03-21

 

3.22.11: YouTube – “Gulen Charter School Investigated by FBI – Pt. 2” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZtg9jfVZbo

 

5.9.11: You Tube – “Federal Investigation of Ohio Charter School Gulen Movement – News 10” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEO1Dmykt2k

 

6.6.11 – New York Times: “Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas” — http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/education/07charter.html?pagewanted=all

 

8.12.11 – “FBI Probe of Gulen May Include Abramson, Kenilworth” — http://louisianavoice.com/2011/08/12/does-fbi-investigation-of-gulen-include-louisiana-rsd/

 

6.9.11 – “Texas Legislature To Launch Investigation of Harmony Schools” —

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/06/29/texas-legislature-to-launch-investigation-of-charter-schools/#.TguYfORvED4.twitter

 

10.4.11 — “Safeguards Badly Needed for Gulen Charter Schools” — by Donna Garner —

http://educationviews.org/2011/10/05/safeguards-badly-needed-for-gulen-charter-schools/

 

HOMEGROWN TERRORISM

 

In Texas and in other states, the Cosmos Foundation is the “mother” organization with its individual sites in Texas called “Harmony” charter schools.

It is certainly possible that an effort is being made by these Turkish/Islamic schools to indoctrinate our American children and “prep” them to become homegrown terrorists. The irony is that these Gulen charter schools are using our taxpayers’ dollars to do it.

On 12.7.11 Congress held a Joint Hearing on Homegrown Terrorism:

http://homeland.house.gov/hearing/joint-hearing-homegrown-terrorism-threat-military-communities-inside-united-states

 

CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT BY FORMER TEACHERS/EMPLOYEES OF GULEN-INSPIRED SCHOOLS

 

12.8.11 — Former teachers and employees of Gulen-inspired schools – class action lawsuit: http://www.charterschoolwatchdog.com/

 

CONTRACTOR SUES GULEN SCHOOLS

 

Another website – Gulen Charter Schools — has joined Harmony Parent, The Truth to expose the Turkish/Islamic organization that is behind the Gulen-inspired schools: http://gulencharterschools.weebly.com/lawsuit-jr-johnson-v-cosmos-foundation-and-solidarity.html

 

The importance of the article published on Harmony Parent, the Truth (12.4.11) is that it ties Turkish contractors and Turkish organizations back to the Turkish-Gulen-Cosmos Foundation which is behind the Harmony Charter Schools in Texas:

http://harmonyparenttruth.blogspot.com/2011/12/gulen-charter-school-lawsuit-jr-johnson.html

 

On 11.21.11, Texas Foreclosures and Public Notices carried a proposal from Cosmos Foundation, Inc. to build its new Harmony School of Business in Dallas:

http://www.txheadlines.com/index.php/public_notices/article/Cosmos-Foundation-Inc.-dba-Harmony-Public-Schools-will-receive-sealed-propo/Texas

 

The following statement particularly caught my eye: “The Owner [Cosmos Foundation, Inc.] reserves the right to reject any or all bids, to waive any informality in a bid, and to make awards in the best interest of the Owner.”

 

To me this looks as if Cosmos Foundation, Inc., which is using our taxpayers’ funds to build these Harmony Charter Schools, does not have to follow the normal bid process and can freely award contracts to Turkish businesses.

By doing this, the Gulen Movement is controlling great amounts of U. S. taxpayers’ dollars which are being used to support Turkish Islamist businesses and groups.

 

This is particularly serious since Turkey on 7.29.11 fell into the hands of the Islamists who practice Sharia law: http://libertylinked.com/posts/8711/gulen—-man-behind-harmony/View.aspx

 

Turkey is no longer a friend of the United States. On 12.3.11, Turkish Prime Minister Receb Tayyip Erdogan announced a donation of $300 Million to Hamas:

 

http://bigpeace.com/dreaboi/2011/12/05/obamas-friend-erdogan-to-give-hamas-300-million/

 

I do not believe that we taxpayers should be footing Turkish businesses/groups in the United States and for all we know, in Turkey itself.

 

 

 

OTHER DISTURBING ARTICLES ON THE GULEN CHARTER SCHOOLS

12.30.11 – “Company Behind Lake County Charter School Proposal Had Problems in Ohio” — http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20111230/news/712309774/

 

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10.24.11 – “Are Texas Turkish Charter Schools Really Public Schools?” by MerryLynn Gerstenschlager: http://libertylinked.com/posts/8709/are-tex-turkish-charter/View.aspx

 

12.1.11 – “The Crescent Moon Arises” — http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/dispatch/article/the-crescent-moon-rises-turkeys-ascension-in-the-new-middle-east/

 

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Winter 2009, pp. 55 – 66 — The Middle East Quarterly — “Fethullah Gülen’s Grand Ambition: Turkey’s Islamist Danger” by Rachel Sharon Krespin, director of the Turkish Media Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Washington D.C.

 

http://www.meforum.org/2045/fethullah-gulens-grand-ambition

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7.22.11 — “Wrong Person Takes the Fall — Another Gulen Situation” — by Donna Garner

http://educationviews.org/2011/07/22/wrong-person-takes-the-fall-another-gulen-situation/

 

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List of Gulen Charter Schools in the United States:

 

http://turkishinvitations.weebly.com/list-of-us-schools.html

 

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7.17.11 — “Another Turkish Charter School in Trouble” by Donna Garner —

http://educationviews.org/2011/07/17/5358/

 

 

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7.14.11 — “How Blind Can People Be?” by Donna Garner —

 

 

http://libertylinked.com/posts/7745/how-blind-can-people-be—/View.aspx

 

 

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7.10.11 — “Are Taxpayers Paying for Free Trips to Turkey?” by Donna Garner —

http://libertylinked.com/posts/7714/are-taxpayers-paying-for-free/View.aspx

 

 

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6.19.11 — Austin American-Statesman article by Laylan Copelin and Mike Ward, “Some Texas Lawmakers Have Second Thoughts about Turkey Trips” —

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas-politics/some-lawmakers-have-second-thoughts-about-turkey-trips-1548440.html

 

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6.30.11 — “Personal Accounts: Gulen Harmony Schools” by Donna Garner

 

http://educationviews.org/2011/06/30/personal-accounts-gulen-harmony-schools/

 

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7.14.11 — “Harmony Science Academies Tied to Gulen Charter Schools” by Donna Garner –http://libertylinked.com/posts/7744/harmony-science-academies/View.aspx

 

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“The Gulen Movement — How It Operates in Turkey and in the U. S.” — Parts 1, 2, 3 — YouTube

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izjnSb0owbI&feature=related

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eD19xG-7rM&feature=related

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72Vwt_LIrAc&feature=related

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