What a fabulous story!

Chicago Public Schools, known for their love of charters, turned down a proposal to open two new Concept charters. The one existing Concept charter school in Chicago had unimpressive test scores. So Concept went to the Illinois State Charter School Commission and won their charters!

What a coup! How did it happen? Well, it seems that Concept charters are affiliated with the Turkish Gulen chain, the largest in the nation. And they have a very good friend: House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Madigan is “the South Side Democrat who’s a powerful advocate of Concept and the faith-based Gulen movement to which the schools are connected.”

Better yet, the Concept charters will get 33% more funding than other charters in Chicago!

Madigan really, really likes Turkey, and he truly likes the Gulen charters, too, according to the story by investigative journalist Dan Mihalopoulos.

“Madigan, who’s also the Illinois Democratic Party chairman, visited Concept’s Chicago Math and Science Academy last year. In a video the school posted on YouTube, Madigan praised the school, founded and run by Turkish immigrants.

“The speaker’s son Andrew Madigan also visited and filmed an endorsement of the CMSA campus at 7212 N. Clark St. Andrew Madigan works for Mesirow Insurance Services Inc., whose clients include CMSA and the two new, state-approved Concept schools in McKinley Park and Austin, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The elder Madigan has ties to other Chicago Turkish immigrant groups that, like Concept, have connections to a worldwide movement led by Fethullah Gulen. He’s a politically powerful Muslim cleric from Turkey who moved to this country in 1999 shortly before being implicated in a plot to overthrow Turkey’s secular rulers and install an Islamic government — charges that were later dropped.

“Madigan has taken four trips in the past four years to Turkey as the guest of the Chicago-based Niagara Foundation — whose honorary president is Gulen — and the Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce, according to disclosure reports the speaker has filed.

“State records show Madigan’s visits were among 32 trips lawmakers took to Turkey from 2008 through 2012. The speaker and members of his House Democratic caucus took 29 of those trips, which they described as “educational missions.”

Ah, the wonders of school reform, putting kids first.