Connecting the Dots in the world today to the Texas Harmony Science Centers….
Dangerous Friends: Power Struggle Splits Turkish Ruling Party 8/21/2013
Reported from Turkey –
Turkey’s prime minister has quashed opposition in the streets, but now he faces a more menacing foe: challengers within his own party and from the nebulous Gülen movement. It could spell the end of political Islam in Turkey as we know it.
Excerpts from the above article:
In the English-language edition of the pro-government daily newspaper Zaman, columnist Yavuz Baydar recently compared Turkey under Erdogan to the United States during the McCarthy era. The conservative-Islamist Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) likewise warns that these current developments inTurkey overshadow any attempts at further democratization.
Most striking about this criticism are its sources — both Zaman and the GYV belong to the movement surrounding Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is believed to have enormous influence within the government.
Gülen himself has been living in self-imposed exile in the US for years, having left Turkey after public prosecutors accused the elderly imam of working to foment an Islamist revolution. His followers have establishedschools in 140 countries, as well as a bank, media outlets and hospitals (see graphic).
Gülen’s followers present themselves outwardly as modern. Their numbers are growing in Turkey, where poorer families praise Gülen’s commitment to education, and businesspeople appreciate his business-friendly approach. But individuals who have left the fold have told SPIEGEL of brainwashing and sect-like structures within the movement.
In US State Department diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks, American diplomats described Gülen’s followers in 2004 as “Turkey’s most powerful Islamist grouping, feared by the core institutions of the Turkish State” saying the network “controls major business, trade, and publishing activities, has deeply penetrated the political scene — including AKP at high levels.”
Are we experiencing an “Education Jihad” in the United States and specifically in Texas?
Center for Security Policy sponsored a briefing to inform, most immediately, members of the Loudoun County School Board who are actively considering whether to provide taxpayer funding to a new charter school linked to Turkish Islamist Fethullah Gulen. A version of the explosive power point briefing presented by Center President Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. and a former public school teacher, Rachel Sargent, at the Loudoun County School System Administration Building in Ashburn, Virginia is available at http://youtu.be/v6wqna7AhYg.
How the Texas Harmony schools serve the Gulen Movement
C.A.S.I.L.I.P.S. – Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools
Gulen charter schools provide revenue for Gulenist businesses, and “win over” studentsin various ways that benefit the Gulen Movement, either by steering them towards a positive view of Turkey and Gulenist Turkish culture, or by recruiting them to perform various services for the Gulen Movement. Some specific examples for the Harmony Public Schools in Texas are given here.
Here is an outline:
1. Schools contracting to Gulenist businesses
2. Students used for political advocacy
3. Students taken on field trips that advertise for Gulenist businesses or orgs.
4. Graduates steered towards serving as future teachers in Harmony schools
5. Mysterious land deals between schools and Gulenist organizations
Details for each point are below.
1. SCHOOLS CONTRACTING TO GULENIST BUSINESSES
Public school dollars are diverted to the Gulen Movement through the charter schools’ purchases of goods and services. Clear conflicts of interest arise in many cases where school officials also have direct financial interests in the businesses.
Ace Test Prep/Preparation, Texas Gulf Institute
Harmony Science Academy Lubbock drafted a “Technology Plan” for the period 2008-2011.
Under the section dealing with the Objective 5.2 “Encourage collaboration with parents, higher education, businesses and community,” there are references to collaboration with Texas Gulf Institute. It is stated that “Facilities are available for ACE Preparation.” Note that Texas Gulf Institute also does business as “Ace Test Preparation.” It is further stated that “Adult Literacy technology training sessions will be held in the Texas Gulf Institute (TGI) training labs.” It is unclear how adult literacy could fall under the legitimate activities of a K-12 public school, but the reference to “training session logs” as “evidence” makes it clear that this has already occurred under the auspices of Harmony Lubbock.
The Texas Gulf Institute and Ace Test Prep are both Gulenist businesses. On one document from Ace Test Preparation, Kudbettin Aksoy, Ozgur Ozer and Jeannette Okur are named. All these individuals have many ties to the Gulen Movement. Connections for Aksoy and Ozer can be seen on this page; Okur has ties to the Gulenist Raindrop Turkish House. The Texas Gulf Foundation (Texas Gulf Institite) is also connected to the Gulen Movement through a loan from Cahit Gezgin; Gezgin is active with the Gulenist Institute for Interfaith Dialog.
Kudbettin Aksoy works for both Harmony Science Academy and Ace Test Prep – a clear conflict of interest. Public school officials should not be allowed to direct school money to businesses that they are stakeholders in.
Karadag Law Firm
The IRS Form 990 for the Cosmos Foundation shows $178,520 in legal work contracted to the Karadag Law Firm. This firm, according to its website, offers legal services in 3 areas: (1) Serious Injury and Wrongful Death; (2) Commercial Law (where the amount at issue is over one million dollars) and (3) Legal Consultation for Turkish Nationals on Behalf of the Consulate General of Turkey. We see no evidence that Cosmos had need of services in categories (1) and (2). It seems most likely that these legal expenses were for immigration, although this has not been officially confirmed.
Karadag Law Firm is Gulenist, as evidenced by the fact that Fatih Yigit, a Secretary and Board Member of the Cosmos Foundation, is also a case manager at Karadag. This dual affiliation is a conflict of interest. Another connection is that the firm’s owner, Yalcin Karadag, trademarked the term “Peaceful heroes” for the “Institute of Interfaith Dialog for the World Peace,” a major Gulenist organization.
The connection between Karadag and the Harmony schools is shown by an expired online job posting that says:
“Education Harmony Science Academy in El Paso , TX seeks Asst.
THE KARADAG LAW FIRM, P.L.L.C. | HOUSTON, TX
Work Type Full time
Job Description Education
Harmony Science Academy in El Paso, TX seeks Asst. Principal to plan, direct, and coordinate the academic, clerical, and auxiliary activities of charter middle and high school. Mail resumes to: Cosmos Foundation, Inc., 9431 W. Sam Houston Pkwy S, Suite 202, Houston, TX 77099, Attn: Mr. Almus. Refer to Ad #CH”
Nearly all Gulenist websites in Texas, including the Harmony schools sites, are produced by Helix Design, a Gulenist company.
Helix’s address is 10700 Kinghurst St.Houston, Texas 77099.
This is also the address of Nur International, with website showing email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org The first address is clearly referring to Engin Fercan Kalkan (see Kalkan construction below). The second refers to Sebahattin Ziyanak, who has connections to the Raindrop Turkish House, as well as to the Center for Turkish Studies; both are Gulenist.
A Fatma Ziyanak works at Harmony Science Academy and may possibly be related to Mr. Ziyanak.
Nur International’s website states that “We offer a range of products including wholesale and retail of personal casual attire and school uniforms.” It appears likely that Nur supplies uniforms to the Harmony schools, all of which require them.
Construction of school buildings: Turkish companies Atlas, Ege
IRS Form 990s for the Cosmos Foundation show millions of dollars in contract work granted to Atlas Construction, Ege Construction, and “Rainbow Construction.”
Ege Construction $1,154,005
Atlas Construction $1,344,671
Atlas Texas Construction 6,709,375
Ege Construction 790,364
Atlas Construction is the US branch of a Turkish company, Atlas Grup. Their website shows that their projects have included remodeling and construction of a gymnasium for Harmony Science Academy, as well as a gymnasium for Dove Science Academy. Other clients include the Kalkan Business Center and the Raindrop Foundation in Ridgeland, Mississippi, both Gulenist.
While the other projects Atlas lists on its site have dollar amounts given, the amounts for the US school projects are not shown.
Yunus Dogan is the CEO of Atlas Texas. His connections to the Gulen Movement include his appearance at the Gulenist 2010 Turkic Fest in Houston. He is also on the board of ISWEEEP, a Houston-based Gulenist competition.
The Atlas Texas website http://atlastxconstruction.com/ is now a broken link. The address given on Cosmos’ IRS Form 990, 5065 Westheimer Rd, Houston, is at the Houston Galleria (a large shopping mall).
Ege Construction is also a Turkish company; its ties to the Gulen Movement have not been documented yet.
Construction of school buildings: Rainbow Painting
On Cosmos’ IRS Form 990 for 2006, a company named “Rainbow Construction” at 12722 Ashford Meadow Drive Houston 77082 is listed as receiving $2,343,777 in contract work. There is a company at this address called Rainbow Painting:
From the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website:
RRM CO. RAINBOW PAINTING INC
1717 MADISON ST
CINNAMINSON, NJ 08077-2618
Status: NOT IN GOOD STANDING
Registered Agent: RABIYE KILIC
12722 ASHFORD MEADOW DR
HOUSTON, TX 77082
SOS Registration Date: April 13, 2009
K&K CO. RAINBOW PAINTING & REMODELING LLC
1717 MADISON ST
CINNAMINSON, NJ 08077-2618
Status: NOT IN GOOD STANDING
Registered Agent: OMER KILIC
8206 PRAIRIE WIND LANE
HOUSTON, TX 77040
SOS Registration Date: March 12, 2007
Note the New Jersey address. Several individuals with last name “Kilic” have lived at 1717 Madison St Cinnaminson NJ 08077. This is also the address of a company called “Four Seasons Painting.”
Based on their address and website photo, Rainbow Painting is located in a house in a residential neighborhood, which is surprising for a company that received 2.3 million dollars in contract work in one year. Clients listed on Rainbow’s website includeHarmony Science Academy and Dove Science Academy. It is hard to think of a convincing justification for why Dove in Oklahoma used a paint company located in Houston, Texas.
More concerning is the fact that both Rainbow companies were registered with the Texas Secretary of State after the time period covered by the Cosmos Form 990.
The Rainbow Painting website was produced By Helix Designs, and Helix owns the rainbow-painting.com domain name as well.
Construction of school buildings: Kalkan
School construction has also been done by Kalkan Development and Construction; their website shows clients including Helix Design (Gulenist), the Texas Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce (Gulenist), and Harmony Science Academy. Kalkan even includes an advertisement for Harmony Science Academy-Houston on their website, describing it as “one of best school in Texas and in the Nation as an exemplary status,” and linking to their website. Fercan Engin Kalkan, a.k.a. Engin Kalkan, Fercan Kalkan, Engin Fercan Kalkan, is owner and corporate officer of Kalkan Development and Construction, and has many connections to the Gulenist organizations Raindrop Turkish House and Institute of Interfaith Dialog, and is moreover listed as a employee of Atlas Grup (see above).
Construction of school buildings: Solidarity
More recently, a company called Solidarity has been building Gulen charter school facilities. There are two Texas companies named Solidarity, Solidarity Contracting LLCand Solidarity Construction Services, LLC. The registered agent of Solidarity Construction Services, LLC, which is currently “not in good standing” according to the State of Texas, is Gulenist Yasar Tiryakioglu, who was President of Raindrop Turkish House as well as a corporate officer of Helix Design. The former company built the Harmony School of Advancement, the Harmony School of Art andTechnology, and is currently working on the Harmony School of Political Science.
The contact person for Solidarity Contracting LLC is Levent Ulusal, who has connections to the Raindrop Turkish House (Gulenist) and TTACC – Texas Turkish American Chamber of Commerce (Gulenist).
Solidarity’s website shows:
Recent Projects Completed – Solidarity Contracting LLC
- Harmony Science Academy – School Remodel / Houston, Texas
Dollar Value: $1,500,000 Completion: 10/15/09
- San Antonio School of Science & Technology / Corpus Christi, Texas
Dollar Value: $1,150,000 Completion: 08/20/09
Solidarity also built the Harmony School of Art and Technology, and is currently working on the Harmony School of Political Science in Austin.
Levent Ulusal’s business expanded into New Mexico where it has the exact same street address as the Albuquerque School of Excellence (a Gulen charter school).
Solidarity Investments LLC
13201 Lomas Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112-7001
The magazine “Construction Leaders Today” featured Levent Ulusal in its Spring 2011 edition. The following line from the article is an admission that this business is driven primarily by Gulenist education enterprises:
“Located in Houston, Texas, Solidarity Contracting handles general contracting, architectural and engineering consulting, and structural design mostly in the area of educational facilities, including college buildings, k-12 schools and daycare centers.”
Ulusal’s experience in construction dates only back to around 2009:
“Ulusal earned his civil engineering bachelor’s degree in his homeland of Turkey and came to the United States in 2000 earning an MBA in corporate finance. He worked in investment banking and accounting for eight years but has always been interested in construction.”
The article refers to the expansion of the company into New Mexico:
“The company will also work in surrounding states, with plans to broaden into New Mexico in the near future.”
This line raises the question of whether Solidarity’s main function is to collect overhead:
“Solidarity does not employ a lot of laborers and instead subcontracts out on most jobs.”
North American College is a Gulenist institution; Yuksel Alp Aslandogan is its president:
“A newly-completed building for North American College in Houston was a word-of-mouth job and is located prominently next to a major highway.”
A news article said the opening of the school was delayed because the construction was behind schedule:
“One school on a tight schedule, an arts building for the Harmony School of Art and Technology in Houston, Texas, was a design/ build job completed in about one year with a four-month design process and eight-month construction schedule.”
“A current project for the Harmony School in Austin is an 81,000 sq. ft. political science building that is powerful and regal in nature with a front facade styled after the White House.”
2. STUDENTS USED FOR POLITICAL ADVOCACY
The following description of a “field trip” found on a Harmony Public Schools websiteshows that students were used to advertise the Harmony schools to state elected officials, and to attend a political rally.
“Harmony Science Academy (HSA) Bryan/College Station took a field trip to Austin, Texas on February 9th in order to attend a charter school rally and meet with state leaders. HSA students, staff and parents met with Governor Rick Perry and Representative Fred Brown at the state Capitol. Governor Perry spoke about the importance of parental involvement in education as well as the university choices in the state of Texas. Principal Harun Karan and Cluster Superintendent Bilgehan Yasar informed Governor Perry about the mission and goals of the Harmony School System. After meeting with state leaders, HSA students and staff attended a Texas Charter Schools Association rally on the South entrance of the Capitol. Hosted by the Governer, students had an unforgettable opportunity to tell about their Harmony experience to Governor Perry.”
3. STUDENTS TAKEN ON FIELD TRIPS THAT ADVERTISE GULENIST BUSINESSES
Harmony Science Academy Lubbock students were taken on a trip to visit colleges that included North American College in addition to several other Texas universities.
The other universities included on the trip, Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, Baylor University, and Rice University, are far more well-established, and it seems the main reason North American College was included is because it is a Gulenist institution.
The description of the visit states that “At North American College, students learned that having their college education funded is not a hard feat. For students who graduate from Harmony Schools and choose teaching, they will receive a full scholarship to North American College.” Thus, the trip also involved advertising the “Grow Your Own Teachers” program, described below.
Coskun Cetinkaya, who is high-level administrator in the Harmony Public Schools system, is also Vice President for Academic Affairs at North American College, and Placement and Externship Coordinator for the associated Texas Gulf Institute. Yuksel Alp Aslandogan, who acted as a spokesman for the Gulen Movement in a PBS article that clearly connected the Harmony schools to the Movement, is President of North American College. Aslandogan also attempted to found a Gulen charter school in Illinois. This shows a major conflict of interest in Harmony schools advertising North American College, a private institution, to students.
Field trips to a business in which school administrators are stakeholders creates a conflict of interest.
4. GRADUATES STEERED TOWARDS SERVING AS FUTURE TEACHERS IN HARMONY SCHOOLS
The Cosmos Foundation has started a “Grow Your Own Teachers Program,” which aims to recruit future teachers for the Harmony schools out of the pool of Harmony students.
The program makes forgivable loans to Harmony students if they promise to “begin teaching full‐time with Harmony Public Schools the first semester immediately following graduation or in the Fall of the following school year, and continuing for a period of years as agreed upon in the initial contract.” Thus, these students are making a multi-year job commitment before they are even out of high school, and they are making it to the same private company that is running their high school.
This program follows the methodology that the Gulen Movement has already used with great success in Turkey, where students are recruited into serving the Movement through the promise of future career opportunities. As noted by researchers Dr. Joshua Hendrick and Aydin Ozipek, such opportunities are the main factor driving most people to participate in the Gulen Movement.
The following line from the information document “Participants will be selected based upon selection criteria, application review, references from high school teachers, coaches and/or sponsors and interviews with the GYOT committee and the principal,” shows that Gulenists will have complete control over which students are selected into this program.
Since the Cosmos Foundation handles the funds for all the Harmony Public Schools, it is impossible to say to what extent their revenue, much of which comes from either the state or federal government, will be used to fund this program, which is not clearly beneficial to the taxpayer.
This program is highly advantageous to the Harmony schools in several ways. Harmony graduates have already been conditioned to the way the schools operate and are likely to regard the school network favorably since they are alumni. Also, it is a psychological fact that students, even after they become adults, never completely break out of the student-teacher relationship with their former teachers. Thus, the Gulenist teachers and administration have a psychological advantage in dealing with former Harmony students, who are more likely to be compliant and to follow their guidance. There is much evidence that teachers in Gulenist schools are abused and subject to excessive pressures. We suspect that Harmony graduates would be far less likely to show resistance than teachers recruited through normal channels.
5. MYSTERIOUS LAND DEALS BETWEEN SCHOOLS AND GULENIST ORGANIZATIONS
It is not clear how following land deal benefited the Gulen Movement, but there is something strange about it:
May 28, 2008: Sky Foundation buys commercial property at 4444 N CLASSEN BLVD, Oklahoma City, for $780,000. (Sky Foundation is the charter holder for Dove Science Academy, a Gulen charter school. But it doesn’t seem that this 10,700-square-foot building was ever used by Sky for a school.)
August 27, 2010: Yuksel Alp Aslandogan (Gulenist) buys the property from Sky for $1,025,000.
Dec 27, 2010: Rain Drop Foundation Inc (based in Houston; Gulenist) which runs Raindrop Turkish House buys the property from Yuksel Alp Aslandogan for $650,000.In just 4 months, the fair market value could not have dropped by $350,000.
“Dilemma for Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools Under SB 2 and HB 462”
by Donna Garner
Texas SB 2 (Sen. Dan Patrick, author) was passed during the 83rd Legislative Session and goes into effect on 9.1.13. The Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools as well as all other charter schools in Texas will be required to follow the many new SB 2 mandates.
One of the negative aspects about SB 2 is that it takes away the authority over charter schools from the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education and shifts that authority over to the unelected Texas Commissioner of Education who is appointed by the Governor.
Please read today’s Texas Tribune article (8.15.13) — “SBOE Will No Longer Approve Charter Applicants” –
GOOD PROVISIONS OF SB 2
- However, there are several really good provisions in SB 2. To summarize a few of them:
- Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools and other charters will have to make sure the principal and teachers have attained at least a baccalaureate degree.
- A majority of the school board members must be qualified to vote (i.e., U. S. citizens).
- The names of school board members must be listed on the school’s website.
- The Texas Attorney General can sue for fiduciary misapplication of public funds.
- The school superintendent’s salary must be posted on the school’s website.
SECTION 32. Section 12.120, Education Code, is amended by adding Subsection (a-1) to read as follows:
(a-1) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), subject to Section 12.1059, an open-enrollment charter school may employ a person:
(1) as a teacher or educational aide if:
(A) a school district could employ the person as a teacher or educational aide; or
(B) a school district could employ the person as a teacher or educational aide if the person held the appropriate certificate issued under Subchapter B, Chapter 21, and the person has never held a certificate issued under Subchapter B, Chapter 21; or
(2) in a position other than a position described by Subdivision (1) if a school district could employ the person in that position.
SECTION 33. Subchapter D, Chapter 12, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 12.1202 to read as follows:
Sec. 12.1202. REQUIREMENT FOR MAJORITY OF MEMBERS OF GOVERNING BODY. A majority of the members of the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school or the governing body of a charter holder must be qualified voters.
SECTION 34. Subchapter D, Chapter 12, Education Code, is amended by adding Section 12.1211 to read as follows:
Sec. 12.1211. NAMES OF MEMBERS OF GOVERNING BODY LISTED ON WEBSITE. An open-enrollment charter school shall list the names of the members of the governing body on the home page of the school’s Internet website.
SECTION 35. Subsection (a), Section 12.122, Education Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a) Notwithstanding the applicable provisions of the Business Organizations Code [Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act (Article 1396-1.01 et seq., Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes)] or other law, on request of the commissioner, the attorney general may bring suit against a member of the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school for breach of a fiduciary duty by the member, including misapplication of public funds.
Sec. 12.129. MINIMUM [TEACHER] QUALIFICATIONS FOR PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS. A person employed as a principal or a teacher by an open-enrollment charter school must hold a baccalaureate degree [high school diploma].
Sec. 12.136. POSTING OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER SALARY. An open-enrollment charter school shall post on the school’s Internet website the salary of the school’s superintendent or, as applicable, of the administrator serving as educational leader and chief executive officer.
DILEMMA FOR HARMONY AND IDEA CHARTER SCHOOLS – TOOK RACE TO THE TOP FEDERAL FUNDS
Here is the reason that thinking parents should not put their children into the Harmony or Idea Charter Schools.
What will the Turkish Gulen Harmony Charters and the Idea Charters do? They each received almost $30 Million of federal funds when they were chosen by the U. S. Department of Education to receive the RTTT-D grant funds — Texas Tribune, 12.11.12 –
The RTTT–D grant funds were sent directly from the U. S. Dept. of Ed. to the Harmony/Idea Charters without the purview of the state education agency. These RTTT-D requirements basically mean that Harmony/Idea Charters are compelled to follow the Common Core Standards Initiative (i.e., national standards, national curriculum, national assessments, national teacher evaluation system tied to individual student scores, and national database).
DILEMMA FOR HARMONY AND IDEA CHARTER SCHOOLS
The 83rd Legislative Session passed HB 462 – .
HB 462 became effective on 6.14.13 and bans local public school districts (and the Texas State Board of Education) from utilizing Common Core Standards (CCS) and national CCS assessments.
How are Harmony and Idea Charters (considered to be public schools because they take public dollars) going to live up to the RTTT-D that requires schools to follow the Common Core Standards Initiative (Type #2) while at the same time Harmony and Idea Charters must follow Texas law in HB 462 that bans the Common Core Standards Initiative in Texas public schools? All public schools in Texas, including charters, are mandated to teach the SBOE-adopted curriculum standards (TEKS) which are Type #1. (Type #1 vs. Type #2 — http://educationviews.org/2-types-of-education-philosophies-chart/ ).
How can children effectively learn Type #1 curriculum that emphasizes correct, fact-based answers while at the same time they are learning subjective, opinion-based, project-driven, group-think, Type #2 curriculum that emphasizes the process over right answers and seeks to indoctrinate children into the social justice agenda?
Bottom line: No thinking, caring parent should put his/her children into the Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools or the Idea Schools because the students in those schools will be indoctrinated into the Common Core Standards.
Race to the Top District Competition (RTTT-D)
U.S. Department of Education Announces 61 Applications as Finalists for $400 Million Race to the Top – District Competition
NOVEMBER 26, 2012 ”Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 61 applications have been selected as finalists for the Race to the Top-District (RTTT-D) competition. The 2012 RTTT-D program will provide close to $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student for success in college and careers.”
Race to the Top District Competition Draft
1. Eligible applicants include only individual local educational agencies (LEAs) (as defined in this document) and consortia of LEAs.
2. Applicant(s) must annually serve a minimum of 2,500 participating students (as defined in this document). (For a consortium, this minimum number may be met by annually calculating all participating students across all participating LEAs.)
3. At least forty percent of participating students across all participating schools (as defined in this document) must be students from low-income families, based on eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch subsidies under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, or other poverty measures that LEAs use to make awards under section 1113(a) of the ESEA. If an applicant has not identified all participating schools at the time of application, it must provide an assurance that within 100 days of the grant that its participating schools (as defined in this document) will meet this standard.
4. Applicants must demonstrate a track record of commitment to the core education assurance areas (as defined in this document), including, for each LEA included in an application, an assurance signed by the LEA’s authorized legal representative that–
a. The LEA has, at a minimum, designed and committed to implement no later than the 2014-15 school year–
i. a teacher evaluation system (as defined in this document);
ii. a principal evaluation system (as defined in this document);
iii. a LEA superintendent evaluation (as defined in this document); and
iv. a LEA school board evaluation (as defined in this document).
b. The LEA has a robust data system that has, at a minimum,–
i. An individual teacher identifier with a teacher-student match; and
ii. The ability to match student level P-12 and higher education data.
c. The LEA has policy and regulatory protections in place that ensure Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) compliant privacy and information protection while enabling access and use by stakeholders.
The Race to the Top District competition (RTT-D) will build on the lessons learned from the State-level competitions and support bold, locally directed improvements in teaching and learning that will directly improve student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
As importantly, they will create opportunities for students to identify and pursue areas of personal passion– all of this occurring in the context of ensuring that each student demonstrates mastery in critical areas identified in college- and career ready standards.
College- and career-ready standards:
Content standards for kindergarten through 12th grade that build towards college- and career-ready graduation requirements (as defined in this document) by the time of high school graduation. A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network of institutions of higher education, which must certify that students who meet the standards will not need remedial course work at the postsecondary level.
Core educational assurance areas:
• Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
• Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
• Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
• Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
Why should Texans be very concerned about the 38 (now 43) Gulen Charter Schools now operating throughout Texas? The information provided below will make you seriously question why Texas Senator Dan Patrick introduced SB2 during the 2013 session with out major safeguards. As currently written it opens the door to more Harmony Math and Science Charter Schools with less oversight to the troubling and dangerous Gulen Schools.
Texas (43) Charter holder/Management Organization: Cosmos Foundation/Harmony Public SchoolsAustin area
- Harmony School of Science – Austin http://hssaustin.org/
- Harmony Science Academy – North Austin http://hsana.org/
- Harmony School of Excellence – Austin http://hseaustin.org/
- Harmony Science Academy – Austin http://hsaaustin.org/
- Harmony School of Political Science and Communication http://hspaustin.org
Troubling TX SB2 – Sen. Dan Patrick (2013 Session)
- Senate bill 2 is a comprehensive overhaul of the laws that govern charter schools. Changes are made on the authorizing, governing, and establishing of charter schools in Texas.Looking at the bill, there were a lot of areas of concern, given the recent experience on CScope in Texas.
- The current laws cap the number of charter schools in Texas at 215. The cap is entirely removed.
- A new governing board of 7 appointees will be the only oversight of these schools. The State Board of Education will have no authority to grant or revoke charter school privileges in this state. This puts us back in the position of non-elected officials in charge of the education.
- If there are any vacant or underutilized facilities in a school district, the ISD “shall” lease that taxpayer funded facility to any approved charter school that wants it. Note the word in the bill is shall (a mandate) rather than the word “may” (which is a choice).
- First time charter schools will be granted a license to operate for a term of 5 years. It will automatically renew at that point for 20 years. Most of the Harmony/ Gulen charter schools (currently under question) will fall in the 20 year category.
- The TEA will be required to post all vacant or underutilized facilities for all to see. For organized charter efforts underway, it will be easy to snap up these facilities all over the state.
- No new charter will have to pay rent or purchase the facility. They pay $1.
- The license of a charter school can be revoked by the newly formed commission only under the following circumstance:
a. The school performs badly in 3 out of 5 years
- b. The school is not fiscally satisfactory on multiple reviews
- Questions to ask…..1. Why are non- elected officials being put in charge without public accountability?
2. Why a 20 year renewal?
3. Shouldn’t we worry about enormous expansion of schools of any type without input?
4. What if the curriculum is found to be offensive?
5. Why is our state funding for-profit enterprises? The Education Committee on SB 2 (Senator Dan Patrick) concerning Charter Schools is considering what to do. They must hear from you. ASAP The committee members are:
Below are charter school safeguards that have been proposed by various experts.
1. That a financial audit conducted under generally accepted accounting practices by an independent, reputable auditor be required – and publicly available – from any charter school operator applying for bond guarantees or other financial incentives;
2. That the name, address, and citizenship of all board members and key administrators applying for said guarantee(s) or other financial incentives issued by the state be recorded and made available to the public;
3. That the funds in the underlying bonds or other financial incentives to privately owned, publicly financed schools are to be used solely for schools within Texas;
4. Severe criminal penalties for fraudulent activities involving bond guarantees or other financial incentives issued by states – such as a Class 2 Felony for criminal or securities fraud violations.
“Behind the Doors of Turkish Gulen Charter Schools”
Mary Addi is a former Gulen charter school teacher who tells in a YouTube what goes on behind the doors of the Gulen Schools. Mrs. Addi is married to a Muslim man who is from Turkey himself, but she and her husband have traveled around the country telling the public of their great concerns about the Gulen charter schools.
In Texas, there are 38 Gulen charters; they are called the Harmony Schools and are run by the Cosmos Foundation. Different states have different names for these Turkish schools, but they are all tied together with H1-B temporary visa male teachers and administrators from Turkey who constantly switch schools.
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.
You Tube Video – Published on Feb 20, 2013
Remarks by Mary Addi, A Former Gulen Charter School Teacher & Frank Gaffney of Secure America Now
The Applicants, Their Associations and Other Reasons Why the Loudoun Math and IT Academy (LMITA) Application Should be Rejected
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