There is a story today in The New York Times profiling the Gulen movement. In Turkey they are seen as a powerful sect following an Iman in the U.S. In the U.S., they are better known as the largest charter school operator in the country.
Here’s an excerpt from today’s story:
The movement is well known for running a network of schools lauded for their academic rigor and commitment to spreading Turkish language and culture. Gulen followers have been involved in starting one of the largest collections of charter schools in the United States. With their neatly trimmed mustaches, suits and ties, and their missionary zeal, supporters here convey the earnestness of Mormon missionaries or Muslim Peace Corps volunteers. Their eyes moisten at the mention of Mr. Gulen’s name, which is invoked with utmost reverence.
Last month The Washington Post took up the subject. The Gulen schools have been accused of misusing immigration loopholes to bring over their followers to the U.S.
The largest charter school network in the United States is operated by people in and associated with the Gulen Movement (GM), a secretive and controversial Turkish religious sect. With 135 schools enrolling more than 45,000 students, this network is substantially larger than KIPP, the well-known charter management organization with only 109 schools. A lack of awareness about this situation persists despite it being addressed in a national paper and in articles about Gulen charter schools in Utah (also here), Arizona, (also here), Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania (also here), Indiana, Oklahoma (and here), Texas (also here), Arkansas, Louisiana (also here), New Jersey, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was also reported that the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education are investigating practices at these schools.
After the Washington Post story ran conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly took up the subject in a column:
Getz said almost all TIZA students stay after school for “Islamic studies” instruction provided by the Muslim American Society. The religious instruction is technically not part of the school day, but the school buses don’t leave until after Islamic studies are over. Most American taxpayers would be mighty surprised at what their money is financing.
The Gulen schools were also cited as the reason Tennessee’s legislature passed a bill limiting foreign staffers in charter schools.
Under the current Alabama charter school bill, these schools would not be prohibited. While the bill has a provision to prohibit anyone from outside of Alabama from establishing a charter, the language is meaningless since it does not prohibit outside management companies from running the schools as is the standard operating procedure for charter schools across the country.
Turkey Feels Sway of Fethullah Gulen, a Reclusive Cleric – NYTimes.com
Largest charter network in U.S.: Schools tied to Turkey – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post
Look What’s Going On in Charter Schools by Phyllis Schlafly on Creators.com – A Syndicate Of Talent
TN bill would limit number of foreign workers at charter schools | The Tennessean | tennessean.com