Three charter schools in Georgia affiliated with followers of Turkish cleric Fetullah Gulen defaulted on bonds and were subject to public audit. The audit revealed, according to the New York Times, that “the schools improperly granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts to businesses and groups, many of them with ties to the Gulen movement.” The schools used public funds to purchase a variety of goods and services from organizations with ties to school officials and other Gulen followers. In some cases, bids were won by the organization that was not the low bidder.
This story is becoming familiar. “The New York Times reported
last year that the group’s 36 Texas schools had granted millions of dollars in construction and renovation contracts to firms run by Turkish-Americans with ties to the movement, in some cases bypassing lower bids from firms with no connections to the movement. The Texas schools also awarded deals for cafeteria food, after-school programs and teacher training to organizations affiliated with Gulen followers.”
The schools affiliated with the Gulen movement typically deny that they are connected to the Gulen movement, even though Imam Gulen has said that establishing charter schools in the United States is part of his mission. The Gulen-related or not-related schools constitute the largest charter chain in the nation. They have received hundreds of millions of dollars in public subsidy for capital costs and tuition.
The Gulen charter schools specialize in math and science, and some of the schools get high test scores.
It does seem odd that the U.S. imports science and math teachers from Turkey because Turkey is not a high-performing nation on international tests. It also seems surprising that Turkey should be exporting science and math teachers to the U.S. because Turkish students are in need of good teachers.
None of this makes much sense.