Every Student Succeeds Act To Fund Turkish Islamist’s Charter Schools

Carole Hornsby Haynes Education Analyst
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Recently the U.S. Congress, aided by the GOP, replaced the despised No Child Left Behind law with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Rather than reducing federal control, the legislation embeds Common Core and intertwines federal tentacles even further.   

Under the guise of school choice, ESSA provides federal funding to expand the number of charter schools.  

Charter schools are publicly funded and operated privately, sometimes by for-profit companies yet have no local elected boards. They can hire and fire teachers, staff, and administrators while avoiding control by education department bureaucrats and unions.

A master plan was laid out in 2008 by Thomas Fordham Institute Fellow, Andy Smarick, who called for a transformation in education with charters replacing every urban public school. Since 2008 there has been unprecedented growth in charter schools.

Charter schools also attract wealthy foreign nationals who can run American schools at the expense of taxpayers. These include Turkish investors affiliated with Fethullah Gulen, the Turkish Islamist who is at the helm of the largest chain of charter schools in the U.S.

From its first U.S. charter in 1999 the Gulen Movement, a secretive and politically powerful religious group from Turkey headed by Gulen, now has a network of around 150 publicly funded charter schools in 26 states with over 60,000 students. Principals and school board members are usually Turkish males while Turkish teachers and employees are brought to the U.S., generally with H-1B guest worker visas.

As of October, 2015 there were 19 Gulen schools in seven states being investigated for a myriad of issues including hiring practices, financial mismanagement, curriculum, irregularities in charter applications, cash kickbacks from Turkish teachers to the Gulen movement, and improper visa practices.

The GM has a closely knit network of organizations run by Turkish people that provide contractors for building and renovating schools and numerous vendors for most all aspects of school business.  

Hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being siphoned off each year. In Texas the Cosmos Foundation under the name of Harmony Schools receives more than $100 million annually in taxpayer funds.

The U.S. Gulen schools were openly discussed in 2009 on a Turkish-language website (‘Sabah’). The goal for Gulen’s schools is to “teach tens of thousands of people the Turkish language and our national anthem, introduce them to our culture and win them over.” Gulen schools regularly sponsor student trips to Turkey. An investigation by USA Today revealed that the GM has secretly and illegally funded as many as 200 trips to Turkey for members of Congress since 2008.

Even though outwardly Gulen schools do not appear to teach Islamic ideology, teachers and parents have complained that the main goal of the schools is to promote love for everything Turkish and for Islam.

In the Syracuse Academy of Science is a prayer room with a library of Fethullah Gulen’s books. Prayer rugs are shelved nearby for Muslim teachers and administrators to pray at least twice a day on school property funded by the American taxpayer.

In Inver Grove Heights, Minn., a substitute teacher named Amanda Getz reported the activities at Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), a K-8th grade charter school funded by U.S. taxpayers.   

The teacher said there is no clear separation of academics studied during the school day and Islamic studies after school. Assignments for both are written on the board next to each other.

She said she was instructed to take students in groups of four to the bathroom for “ritual washing” before lunch on Fridays (the Muslim holy day). Afterward, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap” led the students in Muslim prayers.

Fethullah Gulen and his Gulen Movement have had enormous influence in the regression of Turkey from a secular democracy to a jihadist state. Much of this is because of GM’s vast network of financial institutions, banks and business organizations, and media entities. The most critical component of the empire is educational institutions in Turkey, where 75 percent of prep school students are enrolled in Gulen institutions.

The Gulen educational movement has spread to America and is being funded by the American people.  

According to national security expert Frank J. Gaffney, president of Center for Security Policy, “Fethullah Gulen’s movement is just one more manifestation of what the Muslim Brotherhood has called civilization jihad.”

With ESSA providing federal funding to expand the charter school program, new Gulen schools will be opened – and new opportunities for civilization jihad.