Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turkish charter operators under scrutiny

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 6:14 AM

TURKISH OLYMPIAD: Little Rock LISA Academy public charter school students in Turkish Olympiad photo on the schools website. Turkish influence in charter schools nationwide is the subject of a New York Times article.
  • TURKISH OLYMPIAD: Little Rock LISA Academy public charter school students in Turkish Olympiad photo on the school's website. Turkish influence in charter schools nationwide is the subject of a New York Times article.

New York Times reports extensively this morning about the establishment of dozens of charter schools nationwide by a close-knit group of Turkish business people and educators.

Some of the schools’ operators and founders, and many of their suppliers, are followers of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic Turkish preacher of a moderate brand of Islam whose devotees have built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name. Gulen followers have been involved in starting similar schools around the country — there are about 120 in all, mostly in urban centers in 25 states, one of the largest collections of charter schools in America.

But an examination by The New York Times of the Harmony Schools in Texas casts light on a different area: the way they spend public money. And it raises questions about whether, ultimately, the schools are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement — by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture.

Harmony Schools officials say they scrupulously avoid teaching about religion, and they deny any official connection to the Gulen movement. The say their goal in starting charter schools — publicly financed schools that operate independently from public school districts — has been to foster educational achievement, especially in science and math, where American students so often falter.

Local angle: At least two charter schools in Arkansas, the LISA Academy schools in Little Rock and North Little Rock, were established by leaders with Turkish backgrounds. Democratic power broker Lottie Shackelford once introduced me to a group of Turkish people she was with at a Starbucks and told me, "They even have their own school." She referred to the LISA academies. Complaints have arisen from time to time about the schools relative to treatment of staff and students based on national origin, but leaders have always defended the schools as unaffected by that and unconnected to any Turkish religious movement. Critics of the Gulen movement dispute that in websites such as these, however.

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (56)

Showing 1-50 of 56

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-50 of 56

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Q&A on moving the Arkansas Arts Center to North Little Rock

    As details emerge about the idea to move the Arkansas Arts Center to North Little Rock, some interesting points of discussion also emerge. Such as — will Little Rock elites patronize a museum in ..... North Little Rock?
    • Feb 3, 2015
  • Is Arkansas planning to withdraw from PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium?

    Rep. Mark Lowery, a Republican from Maumelle, has introduced a bill that would put the brakes on Arkansas's implementation of standardized testing based on Common Core State Standards. Lowery says the bill is motivated in part because legislators have been told by ADE officials, unofficially, that "the PARCC contract will not be renewed" beyond the current academic year.
    • Feb 3, 2015
  • Arkansas lawyers file class action against Walmart, others, over herbal products: UPDATE

    Lawyers in Little Rock and Fayetteville have filed federal suit in the Western District against Walmart, Target and Walgreens stores for selling herbal products that an investigation in New York discovered contained little or n one of the ingredients advertised on the bottle.
    • Feb 5, 2015

Most Shared

  • George H.W. Bush will vote for Hillary. Or will he?

    Politico reports that Kathleen Harrington Kennedy Townsend says former Republican President George H.W. Bush is voting for Hillary Clinton for president. The article quotes a Bush spokesman as declining to confirm or deny.
  • Who's harming women?

    Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.
  • New normal

    No two presidential candidates since polling began have run up negatives as massive as those of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who yet won their parties' nominations easily. "What gives?" may be the biggest political mystery in history.
  • Additional rape charges filed against Conway doctor

    Special Prosecutor Jason Barrett has added 11 more victims to two others alleging rape by Dr. Robert Rook of Conway.
  • Big Dam Bridge 100 brings big damn complaint about celebrity rider Hincapie

    The Big Dam Bridge 100 is this weekend and one dedicated biker isn't happy about a celebrity rider, admitted doper George Hincapie.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation