Turkish Charter Schools in America
Recent developments in Loudoun County, Virginia have brought national attention once again to Imam Fethullah Glen, the Turkish cleric whose followers allegedly run at least 120 charter schools in America. The Turkish-operated schools, if taken as a combined unit, would make up the largest charter school association in the country. They are funded by U.S. tax dollars, and are run by independent boards, often made up solely of Turkish expatriates.
It has been reported that the FBI and other federal agencies are investigating various aspects of the Glen empire, said to be worth billions of dollars, but details of those investigations are scarce. Details about the operators of the schools are often equally murky.
Several states have launched investigations into the administration of Glen schools, the awarding of contracts to build and supply the schools, and the practice of hiring Turkish teachers to work in the U.S. using H-1B visas. H-1B visas are issued specifically to allow highly skilled foreign workers temporary residency in the U.S. to work for employers in "specialty occupations” requiring "highly specialized knowledge.” Turkish schools claim they can’t find Americans to fill positions teaching math and science.
Imam Gülen came to the United States in 1999, after Turkish governmental authorities accused him of promoting an Islamic state there. He was tried (in absentia) and acquitted of the charge in 2006. (continue reading...)