Feds investigate Gulen’s Turkish teachers

More than 120 charter schools in 25 states have been founded by followers of Fethullah Gullen, an Islamic leader exiled by Turkey. Federal agents are investigating whether teachers imported from Turkey have been forced to kickback money to a Muslim movement known as Hizmet. The FBI and Departments of Labor and Education investigators are involved, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Unlike in Turkey, where Gulen’s followers have been accused of pushing for an authoritarian Islamic state, there is no indication the American charter network has a religious agenda in the classroom.

Religious scholars consider the Gulen strain of Islam moderate, and the investigation has no link to terrorism. Rather, it is focused on whether hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators, and other staffers employed under the H1B visa program are misusing taxpayer money.

Gulen schools used 684 H1B visas in 2009 to bring in Turkish administrators and teachers. Many of the teachers were math and science specialists.

Ruth Hocker, former president of the parents’ group at the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania Charter School in State College, began asking questions when popular, certified American teachers were replaced by uncertified Turkish men who often spoke limited English and were paid higher salaries.

Although the school is located near Penn State, which graduates many certified teachers, school officials claimed “they couldn’t find qualified American teachers,” Hocker said.

An anti-Gulen web site also accuses the schools of hiring Turkish teachers who speak poor English, hiding ties to the Gulen movement and focusing resources on “a small group of high-performing students” who compete in math and science competitions, “while the curriculum is mundane or even deficient for the remaining students.” The site does not claim the schools teach Islam.

Here’s a pro-Gulen web site.

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  1. KazzyKaz says:
  2. My younger cousin stayed at one of gulens housing at Ohio. They woke him up in the middle of the night to pray and since he was not fasting they told him that he can no longer stay. They are the religious group spreading Islam not just to Muslim kids but American teens as well (stated by my cousin whom lived couple months with them) those graduated ones are transferred to AKP

  3. I worked at one of the Gulen charters a few years ago. 3 of 4 administrators were Turkish and having their grad work fully paid for by the school. The school had its 3rd “administrator” in 5 years… the first two served their two years, earned their degrees, and then moved on. The current administrator had just begun working 3 days a week with regular pay to focus more on his grad work.

    Only a handful of teachers were Turkish, but there definitely was some low-key discrimination going on. One physics teacher had class sizes of 5-8 students and had his own room (that fit 25) while other science teachers with 20-25 students juggled rooms through the day.

    Overall working conditions were better than public schools since the administration stayed out of everyone’s hair. As long as you didn’t raise a ruckus yourself or mention the word “union,” you could do just about anything you wanted.

    Had never seen a group of administrators that were more uncomfortable and clueless with how to supervise other adults…professional development days usually involved them hitting the play button on a DVD player and then reading scripted discussion questions afterwards.

    There was definitely rumors of quirky things occurring with school funds and the pay of Turkish faculty, but nothing that was overt enough to cause problems on a day-to-day business.

  4. We have a new charter school in Tampa operated by some Turkish people….I wonder if they are connected

  5. Frank Morton says:

    Americans you are not the only one suckered in by the Gulen Movement and promises of the best education in the world. In Turkey there are currently over 300,000 teachers who are unemployed victims of the Gulen Education system that is pushing out all non-Gulenist teachers -apparently this same thing is happening worldwide.
    The other factor is that the Gulen Movement are experts at twisting the media, public relations and marketing. Gulen’s empire (ext. $25 billion) holds media as part of his ownership: Fountain Publishing, Today’s Zaman, ERBU TV to name a few. They can and will either make someone’s career or destroy someone like a school district that refuses to expand their schools. They are politically entrenced via their many Gulen foundations/institutes that are layered around these schools that funnel and launder American Educational tax monies. There is always a Gulen Award or Honor given to some local academia, poltician or media and FREE trips to Turkey as well.
    Lastly the schools in Turkey are below standard, according to the last OCED ranking of 34 countries they are 32 just above Chile and Mexico. The winners are Finland and S. Korea. These Gulen worldwide schools have nothing to do with education but rather are the seeds for creating a new population of Gulen followers. Your money should not be spent on h1-b Visas, trips to Turkey, educating their uncredentialed teachers, and paying for the ridiculous Turkish Olympiads so American children can display their Turkish skills throughout the USA and in Turkey.
    With Gulen being mentioned on WikiLeaks and the arrest of over 60 Turkish Journalists 14 days ago who dare to speak out against Gulen, if America cannot turn the Gulenists around you will risk the same type of un-Democratic behavior.
    http://www.charterschoolwatchdog (read Teachers with Guns)

    Also please research Ex-FBI Turkish Translator Sibel Edmonds, Dr. Aland Mizell and Dr. Joshua Hendricks (who was a former paid speaker for the Gulen Movement)

    Good Luck America, take back your schools before it’s too late.

  6. KazzyKaz says:

    SuperSub’s account is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Along with its schools, the Gulen movement operates a media empire. News organizations in Turkey are either Gulenist or non-Gulenist. This division typifies most everything going on in Turkey today.

    Two main Gulenist news outlets in Turkey are Zaman (newspaper) and Samanyolu (TV). Gulenists also operate the English language Today’s Zaman newspaper and Ebru TV.

    Taraf, a Turkish non-Gulenist newspaper began releasing Wikileaks info about the Gulen community on March 16, 2011. Hurriyet, a major non-Gulenist Turkish newspaper posted this article the next day: “Turkey’s religious Gülen community subject of latest WikiLeaks”


    Though U.S. officials perceived the community as adhering to a “moderate Islam” model, they expressed concerns in the cables, the first documents released by WikiLeaks’ new Turkish partner, about its perceived infiltration into the Turkish police and accusations of “brainwashing of students” at the community’s schools around the world.
    To begin to understand the controversies about the Gulen movement’s rising power in Turkey, WNET’s Worldfocus segment, “Rising Islamist movements challenge secularism in Turkey” is a useful place to start.

    This group has opened all its charter schools in stealth.

  7. CarolineSF says:

    As I understand it, the Gulen movement has schools all around the world, but they’re private and tuition-based in every other country. Thanks to our charter laws, the U.S. is the only nation where the taxpayers are supporting dozens of Gulen schools.

    The Oakland-based Charter School Scandals blog has been posting for some time about the Gulen schools, and USA Today did a story some months ago, none of which appeared to get any traction. For some reason, there is finally some public concern.


  8. This reminded me the Chinese exclusion act in 1882 for some reason. I wonder if we would think the same way for French, or British teachers; or its just because they are Turkish. And why no one mentions about the success of the schools? If its the issue of immigrants, than Feds should go after Univ. of Wisconsin Madison, where some departments have more than %80 of international scholars; which are ranked in top 10 in the nation.
    I also took a quick look at the cited blog; it just too low, only thing I could see way outrageous bullying.

  9. American Teacher says:

    Merhaba! Nice Try! except these schools have a low performance record, but have a great record for media hype and marketing of the schools.

    Learn how they cheat on tests and change grade scores.