Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Turkish Charter Schools in America

People are beginning to ask questions about the charter schools operated by Turkish citizens. They appear to have some connection with a cleric named Imam Gulen. He is reported to run at least 120 charter schools in our country. Charter schools are, of course, financed by U.S. tax dollars. They are run by boards that are often made up of Turkish expatriates. Several states have launched investigations into the administration of these Turkish schools, the awarding of contracts to build and supply the schools, and the practice of hiring Turkish teachers brought in using H-1B visas. H-1B visas are specifically set up by Congress to allow highly skilled foreign workers temporary residency in the U.S. to work in specialty occupations requiring "highly specialized knowledge."

Administrators of these schools deny any link to Mr. Gulen. However USA Today reported that virtually all the schools operate with the aid of Gulen-inspired "dialogue" groups that promote Turkish culture. In many cases, the charter school board members serve as dialogue group leaders.

Mr. Gulen denies any connection to the schools, but when he was denied a visa by the U.S. Immigration Service several years ago, he claimed he was an "alien of extraordinary ability in education" and "had established more than 600 educational institutions" worldwide. Gulen won the immigration lawsuit and is in the U.S. courtesy of a green card. He lives in a secluded and well-guarded compound in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

We hear complaints that the Turkish schools favor Turkish-owned businesses to supply the schools' cafeteria food and other supplies needed by every school. A New York Times review of the schools found that all but three of the 35 service contracts for the schools from 2009 to 2011, worth $82 million, were awarded to Turkish-owned businesses. The whole subject of these Turkish charter schools is a matter that needs more observation and investigation.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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