And they are speaking out!
Here’s a sampling of emails that have been sent to us through our website. We have not included the names of the senders because many of them fear retaliation by the Turkish “brothers.” It concerns us deeply that so many Americans (teachers and parents) have to actually hide their concerns and feelings because they are fearful of the people that are running their schools and teaching our children.
We encourage our readers to continue to send us information that we will in turn, send to the “appropriate” people.
And by the way, some of the teachers have already sought out legal counsel, and we strongly suggest that others follow their lead.
Below is a quote taken from the comments section from a story in the USA Today, written by Greg Toppo (see, "Deny, Deny, Deny, ...). The comments are made by a New York teacher:
I am reading many back and forth comments between negative (mostly parents) and positive (mostly people with Turkish sounding names). I would know, because I worked for a Turkish charter school in New York State for the past five years. I tried to get out many times, but if they find out you interviewed elsewhere, you got terminated. I was hired at a public school and no longer work there but even still the threat of speaking out remains unspoken. Here are some facts. At a charter school in NYS, a percentage of the faculty can be uncertified. That entire percentage was made up of Turkish teachers. Everyone in the school had to teach 6 periods out of 8 per day. But the Turkish teachers? Most only had five periods a day. They all had first period off to eat breakfast together each day and the classes that they did teach were mostly composed of between five -twelve of the best students, while the rest of us had an average of twenty-five. Every five years ago, the Turkish charter schools seem to change administration to other Turkish-Americans. So yes, I know they are all connected. We had teachers come in from the Academy in Ohio, Rochester and Syracuse to name a few. A former secretary saw two sets of books in terms of financial records and she was terminated.
What is wrong with this? Everything. Get over that the philosophy of Gulen is peaceful. That's great and I'm glad. But that's not the point. The point is that jobs in America should go to Americans first. Labor Bureau anyone? How do they get past this loophole?? If you are a teacher at one of these schools do not feel secure if you teach Science, Math or Technology. They will get a Turkish person to replace you as soon as customs lets them. They are not highly qualified for the educational demands in this country because the students cannot understand them, they do not follow state educational standards, and they will bully around and create a sense of fear in the American employees they hire.
I am one of the few people at the school who was around for five years. I am a woman and the male Turkish teachers followed Islam (most were seen praying during the day, which is fine, but simply that is how we know) and it is a culture that does not respect women. I was not let go because I kept my mouth shut. I kept my mouth shut when we were told to keep certain student applications at the bottom of the pile, because they were students with special needs or low report cards. I kept my mouth shut as they planned trips to Turkey (everyone KNOWS where the money is coming from) and I kept my mouth shut when a Turkish teacher took a pile of state exams into his classroom alone and grades were changed. The incident was covered up and that teacher was sent to another Turkish charter school the following year.
These schools need to change. We have American teachers with administration degrees, but administrative jobs are created and given to Turkish employees without even being posted. I live in a competitive part of the country for education. The job I have now over 400 teachers applied for. Yet, Turkish teachers are automatically given hiring preferences in these schools. An uncertified Chemistry teacher was brought over midyear from Turkey who barely spoke English and had the students just sit at their desks. I was the Grade Chair coordinator for that level and know for a fact he made up grades. A student who always got nineties but was a bit of a behavior problem got a fifty. He never received back a paper. His grades were based on a quiz (which he was absent for) a test that was on material they were never taught and "Homework #1" which was never actually assigned, corrected, or graded. We already had a certified Chemistry teacher who was an American as a long term sub in the school. Yet, he was let go.
This is not about race, religion or creed. This is about unfair labor hiring practices, unfair student retention and uncertified teachers who cannot provide a high quality education to our youth
Comments: I am a former teacher at a Sky Foundation school in Oklahoma. I was 'let go' after reporting the school to the State Dept. of Education for state testing violations (no monitors on state tests/ unqualified persons administrating state tests) and discrimination of special education students (multiple I.D.E.A. violations). From the minute I walked in the door there were red flags:
*no books, supplies
*turkish teachers who spoke little or no english
*non-certified turkish teachers who had 1-3 classes per day while certified american teachers had full schedules and were paid less
*separate and private bathroom and lounge for turkish men
*overnighter hotel stays with turkish teachers and boys
*turkish teachers leaving for months and then being replaced by even more turkish teachers while American teachers receive 8 days total annual/sick leave a year
*parents paying for special ed evals
*parents being asked by admin to backdate special education paperwork
*students on IEPs that did not qualify for svcs.
*academic evals for IEPs done without parental consent
*no special education classes when required by IEP
*refusal to accommodate or modify IEP students
*changes made in IEP placement w/out parent consent or knowledge
*coercion of parents/guardians to agree to removal of their child from regular ed. setting
*falsifying attendance records
*screening school applications for students with disabilities
*refusing to provide special education evals or services to a student with physician/psychiatrist documentation of a disability and telling the parent that if they didn't like it, they could go to a "public school"!
*not notifying the special education teacher of a student with a disability and then suspending said student for more than 2 months
*soliciting and receiving donations for playground equipment that was donated
*refusing to allow a mental health therapist access to students unless she agreed to "not make eye contact" with the principal
These schools are an absolute nightmare of epic proportions! I have documentation....anyone want to take a look?
** Our note : Oh! Yes, we definately have people that want to look at your information!
From an Ohio Teacher:
Comments: Horizon Columbus and Concept Schools are trying to get a $93 million tax-emempt bond issue! See the Columbus Dispatch, Monday 8/16, Metro and State section. I taught at Horizon and Noble Academy for 8 years. My contract was not renewed via email this year. If I had known what was going to happen, I would have reported Mr. Yildiz to the Ohio Dept of Ed. for testing violations on the Ohio Achievement Assessment! I had 6 administrators during those 8 years and he was definitely the worst. His long-term sub license expired in June and has not been renewed. I have observed nearly everything you have written about on this site which was blocked from our computers last spring.
A Chicago, Illinois Teacher:
How much time will it take to round people up? We have been in contact with Jesse Jackson Jr. and Operation Push wants to help us out. We had a delegation go to the school today of about 50 people. The principal did come out and answer some questions with the typical rhetoric. They pulled the fire alarm so that we would have to leave the building. COWARDS!!! The teachers at our school are prepared to pull out all the stops. We don't care what they do...we won't back down. He told a parent that it was a school of choice and that if she didn't like what they are doing she can put her kids somewhere else. So arrogant. They are not above the law!!!!
Another Ohio Teacher:
I was hired in 2000 as Athletic Director and Phys Ed teacher. I petitioned the OHSHA and started all the sports that are currently at HSA cleveland. The past year I was evaluated twice and both times had marks of 4.8 out of 5. (excellent). They gave me a 10 year Meritorious Service Award in Sept 2009 at the Concepts Schools Conference. I was nominated as a teacher of the year for 2009. It seems Mr. Karatas (Blakestone) as you put it, did not like me and he wrote letters of reference for each teacher both good and bad. He mysteriously left Horizon Cleveland in March never to be seen again. Mr. Karatas was not at Graduation although his name was in the booklet and talking to other teachers, when they went for contract negotiations the interim director and asst director took all of Mr. Karatas comments at face value and hired those teachers back he liked and parted ways with those teachers he did not like. AT this point nobody knows where Mr. Karatas is located now. Some say St. Louis I can only guess.
And Yet Another Ohio Teacher:
Thank you for this website. I was just laid off after 2 years of teaching at HSA Cleveland High School.
I always heard people talking about suspected illegal activity, but wanted to believe the best.
I am sad to see this overwhelming body of evidence.
Do you think I should file with the EEOC? I can't point to anything other than being over 40 and bisexual. Whereas, colleagues with 6 or 10 years of experience were laid off, also.
Let me know what you think and if there's anything I can do to help your truth-telling!
A New York Teacher:
I am not sure that it would do any good. They seem able to circumvent the immigration and education laws. ….has its own issues and the bottom line is that whether or not I am there I don't want to rock the boat for the children or the teachers who work so hard and are so disheartened right now. I work at another charter school in the city and don't want to start tilting at windmills and then jeopardize the hard work that I am doing. I do need to be employed. I left a public position because I believed in the promise of the charter school movement to promote change, I just believe that the oversight should be real and not just verbal. I am in no way anti-charter I still believe there is great potential but I find the Gulan movement frightening and we are so blind to its danger.
I am at Horizon Cincinnati under the direction of Ugur Zengince the missing one. As I was reading I was amazed at what I learned but sadly not a lot surprised me. This year I had a baby in December whe I went to Mr. Zen and said I needed the Family Medical Leave paperwork he informed me we did not need to fill anything out. I disagreed and found my own turned it in upon doing so was informed that this would not protect me he could fire me whenever he wanted to.
We are in violation or should I say out of compliance for many things including fire drills, tornado drills, and lock down drills.
As it is the end of the year and contracts are going on many Americans are being let go with no real reason. All the Turks are retaining their jobs with raises. The staff has a high turnover rate when they discover what is really going on they leave. The directors never spend time visiting classrooms but will cite poor teaching as a reason to get not renew contrat, really how would you know. Or they will say it is low enrollment and look to blame the teachers as if we have control over their marketing.
The school has cameras in each classroom
Again from Ohio:
Comments: I currently work for HSA Cincinnati, we are going through contract negotiations, I have never seen anything so unbelievable. Zengince, is threatening teachers that if they don't sign right there that they would be replaced. Low ball offers and negotiations that generally do not take place in a professional atmosphere. Do you know if this is typical of all concept schools?
And from Georgia:
Do you have information on the teachers at Fulton Science Academy? Like you have for the Toledo school & Colorado schools showing the licensed teachers?
People are starting to ask questions at our school. I am waiting until school is out (end of the week) before I bring my concerns to the Board of Education.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions.
I'm trying to talk to the board members that have had concerns about the charter schools in the past.
From An Arizona Teacher:
I am an ex teacher at SSA-Phoenix in AZ. I resigned after many promises of our sick pay being relinquished well (3 months) into the new signed contract. They have inappropriate teachers working there. Touching kids, talking inappropriately and allowing students to play outside on a regular basis. Students are not learning what they need to. Language barrier with students and teachers is an issue. They are bringing more Turkish people on Work Visa's and firing American teachers. Any way I can help to alert the local Charter Board where I will be taken seriously!
From a Georgia Parent:
I have a child at Fulton Science Academy in Georgia. I've spent the last month learning about our school's connection to all the schools over the country & Gulen.
The administration tells me there is no connection.
Could you point me to the source for "The Map of Gulen"?
And have you ever spoke to Dean Kern at the Department of Education, in charge of Charter Schools?
I'm trying to put together some information for a meeting.
Do you have a child at one of the schools?
From an Arkansas Parent:
I prefer to use initials as I have been reading about this movement for four hours, and if I can do so, no doubt they are reading this site. I've also read about intimidation of whistle-blowers.
The short story is that my daughter was going into 6th grade, and I took a tour of LISA Academy here in Arkansas, and was impressed by what I saw. Yes, I noted that 99% of the teachers and all of the bigwigs are Turkish, but it didn't register. I was impressed by the test scores and the experiences of a friend who sends her children there, and so my very blond, very blue-eyed daughter started last fall.
While I know they are good at math and science, it has overall been a frustrating and now a frightening experience. Here we go:
1. I can never talk to the principal. The front desk receptionist calls him, but he never comes out nor can I go back there.
2. As soon as you have issues with a teacher-especially a Turkish one-they clam up. My daughter is taking something called "character education". Each week there is a short essay or a worksheet to do in class. She was getting an A until she was out of class for a week following surgery. She missed one or two assignments, and her grade dropped to a D. It has since come back up, but there was no call, no note of concern about daughter's excused absense.
At the beginning of the spring semester, daughter and her class started Turkish. At the very beginning, they were given a Turkish test "from Houston". Of course, nobody knew any Turkish, but the teacher told them to "guess" (apparently it was multiple-choice). After the test, the students found out that those who scored over a certain mark could go on a summer camp trip to Turkey for $780. Regular price of this non-advertised trip was $1900. Only three students got the discount. When I went to the office to find out more information and to see the test itself, no one would tell me anything except about the parents' trip (which was advertised). How would the front office not know about something so ambitious as a trip to Turkey for the students? The son of a friend of mine who "earned" the discount has never seen his score or the test.
For a lot of other, small things going on since September, my "hinkey" meter has been off the charts. I passed it off as a culture clash; now I know I was correct. Thank you for your site.
An Oklahoma teacher:
The schools in Tulsa are no longer affiliated with Tulsa Public Schools. Tulsa voted to deny their charter last year. However, the schools were picked up by a sponsorship from Langston University. Also, after the rape incident at Dove Science Academy- Tulsa, the two Tulsa schools have now merged as Discovery Schools of Tulsa. Discovery opend during the academic year 2009/2010. These schools boast to be, like all the others, leaders in Math, Science, and Technology.....and so I find it interesting that Sky Foundation which these schools operate under does not even have a website. Seriously....WTH is up with that. Also, the president of Sky Foundation is Dr. Bilal Erturk, assistant professor of FINANCE at Oklahoma State Universtiy. None of these guys have a background in Education, or a seeming interest in children, families, or education!!!!! They are Turkish business men!!!!!!! They care about $$$$$ and #s!!!!! Discovery has the same generic website as all the other "Gulen" schools....It is interesting that the school website advertises the infamous "cameras" as do all the schools...These cameras do not exist!!!! The school does not even have a working library as of 8/26/2010, and did not have one last year, or a librarian.....yet the website advertises one!!!!! I would love to send you some pictures of that place!!!!! How in the hell do these guys get away with this crap??????????? The technology teacher isn't even in the United States....His VISA expired and he was unable to make it back for the 2010/2011 school year!!!!! Instead of offering the job to one of the many qualified...certified....teachers in Tulsa, One of the many highly qualified teachers in Oklahoma that lost a job due to school deficits....., these guys put one of the Turkish employees....(the assistant principal in to sub for the tech teacher until he can get a new Visa!!!!
My list goes on and on and on...... The sad truth is that none of this is new information....just another Turkish Charter.....same unbelievable circumstances!!!!!!!
Comments: I was formerly a teacher at Lotus in Colorado and I am interested in helping with the mission to educate the world of the ethical, moral and legal wrong doings taking place. Please contact me if you would like my support.
Comments: Just wanted to say "Thanks" for posting this information. We entered our daughter in the Harmony school in Bryan, Tx three years ago and have always had questions about their operations. My husband and I consider ourselves very involved parents. We are both members of Harmony's "so-called" PTO and regular fixture at the school. Our early thoughts were that they were new and still getting their bearings, but after 3 years, nothing has really gotten better and a change is needed. It seems that they are growing quickly throughout the state.
Before registering our daughter, I did as much research I could on the school without find anything out of sorts. Wow even Bill Gates contributed money. Can't be that bad. NO clue why I decided to google the school last week, but am glad that I did.
After reading this, as well as other blogs, so many things make sense now....high teacher turnover, lack of interest of PTO fundraisers, bad communication with parents, almost no community envolvement. Texas A&M University is a few miles from the school. It is what keeps our two cities alive. The university is always helpful to the community and schools. But our administration would rather drive the kids to Houston or Austin for Turkish festivals. I personally tried to suggest trips to the physics department and observatory, but was ignored.
The fundraising is unreal. Bribing the kids with free dress days for selling chocolate. They would frequently hold fundraising events the PTO scheduled first. Inside joke was that the meeting room was "bugged" because our ideas were often executed by the school first. Didn't think too much of it before, but now I question, where did all that money actually went.
As for her teachers, I think we actually lucked out. Her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade teachers were great. Though they were first year teachers, they were all certified/licensed. The class sizes were smaller, as promised, the first and second years, but last year, they crammed 30-32 kids in each elementary classroom. Bless those teachers who stuck it out and tried to give them all educations.
One think I don't think I saw mentioned on your site is their execution of the school lunches. Don't know how it is done at other Harmony schools, but our breakfast and lunches is driven in daily from some place in Houston. Turkish owned of coarse. I had the caterers name, but can't locate it at this moment. Not sure if you know about my location, but that is about a 100 mile trip one way and takes about 1.5-2 hours in good traffic. My child always brings her lunch to school, so I am not too familar with what was actually served.
Guess to sum it up, we are moving our child back to the public school. Not that I am particularly happy about that school. We moved her to Harmony for a reason. But it is our only choice until some other opportunity opens up. I certainly will not miss those awful red shirts, ban of skirts and the unending struggles for little things like letting the little ones wear light sweaters inside on cold days. Fought for that last thing all last year before finally giving up.
Sorry for being so wordy, but I barely touched the surface of little things I am now realizing. I will be sending links to your website as well as others to other parents in the school as well as a local reporter for our newspaper.
Comments: A new " Harmony Science Academy" has popped up in Garland, TX. The sign has been up for a few weeks and so many of my friends has been asking what it is. Thank you for watching these guys. I recvd a eamil this morning explaining what this place was. SCARY !!!!! Please add this location to your list to watch. People of America need to take watch and be warned !
Comments: I work at a charter school run by Turkish men...I see many similarities between these stories and what I face on a daily basis. I want to quit and speak up and out against this, but I also want to keep my job. I spent 2 summers looking for teaching job until I found the school where I am at now. I have already signed a contract for the 10-11 school year, but I still worry! I should haven't to worry. I keep thinking to myself, that as long as I'm getting paid decently (35k) then I can just turn my head away and teach my students to the best of my ability. But as it stands, I am one of 3 Professional Certified teachers at the school out of 17 teachers. Isn't there something wrong with the picture? I am also the most certified, with 2 certifications and Reading Endorsement..and yet I catch the most flack from the director because I am very much an alpha female. I don't like walking on eggshells around people, but I feel like I sometimes have to in order to keep my job. But like I said, I signed my contract already for this coming year... I'm hoping I have nothing to worry about...
Just thought I'd pass along some information.
Ohio -- once again
I was hired in 2000 as Athletic Director and Phys Ed teacher. I petitioned the ohsaa and started all the sports that are currently at hsa cleveland. The past year I was evaluated twice and both times had marks of 4.8 out of 5. (excellent). They gave me a 10 year Meritorious Service Award in Sept 2009 at the Concepts Schools Conference. I was nominated as a teacher of the year for 2009. It seems Mr. Karatas (blakestone) as you put it, did not like me and he wrote letters of reference for each teacher both good and bad. He mysteriously left Horizon in March never to be seen again. Mr. Karatas was not at Graduation although his name was in the booklet and talking to other teachers, when they went for contract negotiations the interim director and asst director took all of Mr. Karatas comments at face value and hired those teachers back he liked and parted ways with those teachers he did not like. AT this point nobody knows where Mr. Karatas is located now. Some say St. Louis I can only guess.
They took the names of the teachers off the websites because of the Gulen email we received last year. It caused a big stink so in order to avoid things like that from happening again, they took the names off. Yet somehow I got a link to your web blog . . . HUM??? Thank goodness I did!
Comments: I worked at (Cosmos Foundation) in Austin TX for 5 years. Have seen more than I can express in words....Finally, I was let go because I expressed my opinion that they discriminate against Americans and women. Every single American that works at our schools in Austin knows all too well how corrupt these guys are. When is there going to be enough proof to have something done about it? When will our government kick these guys out????
From New York
I am not sure that it would do any good. They seem able to circumvent the immigration and education laws. Buffalo Academy has its own issues and the bottom line is that whether or not I am there I don't want to rock the boat for the children or the teachers who work so hard and are so disheartened right now. I work at another charter school in the city and don't want to start tilting at windmills and then jeopardize the hard work that I am doing. I do need to be employed. I left a public position because I believed in the promise of the charter school movement to promote change, I just believe that the oversight should be real and not just verbal. I am in no way anti-charter I still believe there is great potential but I find the Gulan movement frightening and we are so blind to its danger.
Comments: I currently work for HSA Cincinnati, we are going through contract negotiations, I have never seen anything so unbelievable. Zengince, is threatening teachers that if they don't sign right there that they would be replaced. Low ball offers and negotiations that generally do not take place in a professional atmosphere. Do you know if this is typical of all ?