SHOULD MASSACHUSETTS be afraid of Fethullah Gulen? That’s the question at the heart of the whispering campaign against the Pioneer Charter School of Science, a high-achieving public school in Everett whose loose connections to the influential Turkish religious figure came under heightened scrutiny when it sought state permission to expand to a second location in Saugus.
Gulen is a moderate Muslim cleric who emphasizes science and whose followers have started schools worldwide, including hundreds of charter schools in the United States. Pioneer’s director, Barish Icin, says the Everett school isn’t connected to Gulen, but some of the school’s choices suggest at least a casual link; the school has hired 16 Turkish science, math, or technology teachers with temporary visas, though only four are currently on the school’s staff. It has also contracted with a law firm tied to the Gulen movement.
But that doesn’t really matter. Public schools should be judged based on their performance, and according to state statistics, Pioneer is doing an exemplary job. The school has received state awards for its high MCAS scores, which are significantly above statewide averages; when it sought to expand, many parents attested to the education their children at the grade 7-12 school are receiving. The school offers 200 days a year of instruction, almost a full month more than district schools. Of the 34 students in the school’s first graduating class last year, more than 30 were accepted to four-year colleges. If this is foreign interference in American education, maybe we need more.
Indeed, part of the point of charter schools is to provide a testing ground for unconventional educational approaches; schools are given wide latitude to set their own policies, as long as they adhere to basic guidelines. Importing Turkish teachers is about as unconventional as it gets. But the school broke no rules, the state has received no complaints about religious influence at the school, and its academic results speak for themselves.
Source: Published on The Boston Globe
Browsing through the major news outlets, you would face with the bizarre picture of the fact that in many parts of the world, civil society suffers because of conflicts, corruption and lack of pace. It is an inevitable relativity to recognize the crucial role of education in contributing to building a culture of peace and condemning instances.
A culture of peace and non-violence goes to the substance of fundamental human rights: social justice, democracy, literacy, respect and dignity for all, international solidarity, respect for rights and moral values. And, it is well known fact that education is a key tool in combating poverty, in promoting peace, social justice, human rights, democracy, and cultural diversity.
There is no question on the fact that, providing education in the most needed sections of the world is urgently needed to prepare much needed peaceful venue. Will the international community commit the necessary economic, human, and political resources? The main challenge is not financially oriented but rather on the leadership side. The challenge is to have people to dedicate themselves on this cause which is inspiring and formidable and far more likely to enrich and improve life on earth. And, this is what Gulen inspired schools achieved so far. Fethullah Gulen emphasizes the significance of educating younger generations with the idea of peaceful coexistence and mutual understanding. The educational perspective of Gulen is the illumination of the mind to science and knowledge, and the lighting of the heart in faith and virtue. And, according to Gulen, it can be accomplished though teachers who are committed to devoting their lives, time and knowledge to teach the younger generations in these educational institutions. There are currently more than 1000 Gulen inspired schools in more than 110 countries around the world. In the European countries, there are at least a dozen Gulen inspired schools, and more than 150 smaller educational and cultural centers. Having an exceptional track of success in the different section of the world, Gulen schools have been perceived to be elite schools around the globe. Most of these outstanding schools are private schools where students have been selected on the basis of academic performance. The students in the schools tend to score high in different national and international competitions. The schools generally follow the curriculum of the host country, combined with some elements from the Turkish curriculum and the curriculum in other countries. In these schools majority of the subjects have been taught through English, and on secondary level, education is also given through Turkish. In order to bring the students’ academic skills to the international standards, the schools weekly hours is generally longer than in the state schools.
With regard to the teaching of religion, the Gulen schools generally follow the policy and curriculum of the host country. In terms of teaching of religion as a subject, the Gulen schools cannot be placed within any one of the traditional models, because they generally follow the curriculum of the host country. Therefore, in some Gulen schools religion is taught according to the multi-denominationalist model. In the Gulen schools in Albania are remarkable example of this approach, the schools follow the non-denominationalist model; religion is not taught as a separate subject at all. There is no significant difference in terms of how religion is taught as a subject in the private Gulen schools, and the state schools. Rather than teaching religion, the Gulen schools stress the transmitting of ethical and moral values. As the discourse has developed over the years, partly as a result of global developments and the movement’s own involvement in this world-wide education project, Islamic values have been reinterpreted as universal values. And these great values are the ones that Muslims, Christians and Jews have in common. There are more common points that unite the various religions of the world, than what separates them, he argued, reiterating a point often made by Fethullah Gulen himself. Rather than advocating one religion in particular, the Gulen inspired schools place value on faith in itself. Gulen regards both morality and identity as founded in religion. The students in Gulen inspired schools are therefore encouraged to hold on to their faith, of whatever denomination they may be.
Some parents may be suspicious that as these schools are run by a faith-based movement, they may have a missionary program where they actively try to convert their students to Islam. Rather than attempting to convert students to Islam, teachers and managers generally attempt to reinforce the religion of the student, whatever that religion may be. Gulen movement emphasizes the common values that different religions share, and Gulen schools’ commitment to religious tolerance is genuine. And this excellent approach can be seen as praiseworthy in the most of the countries.
This remarkable educational approach to religion in the Gulen schools can be understood partly within the concept of multi-denominationalism, with elements of what has been referred to here as the radical approach, namely the connecting value system. 
By Anne Solberg
Fethullah Gulen plays no role in the founding, running, or planning of any of the Hizmet schools. His role if anything has been in advocating, promoting and motivating people to struggle for the sake of others, to build schools and work selflessly in serving others through education and dialogue activities. If it can be stated that he has had a role, it can only be that he has been the inspiration behind such noble projects. He wouldn’t know the number of schools, where they are located, or what their names are.
Gulen has no formal, organic or official link to any schools.
The spread of the private schools in Turkey and other countries has always been encouragement to the entrepreneurs and educators for the ideal of educating young generations in high human values. Gulen has nothing to do with the ownership or board membership of these institutions or any other organizations related to the movement. His name, however, has been associated with some dialogue institutions, of which Gulen is the honorary president, such as the Journalists and Writers Foundation in Istanbul and the Rumi Forum in Washington, D.C. As Gulen himself has declared many times, he does not personally know the majority of the participants of the movement, nor does he have information about all service projects all around the world. Gulen currently lives a quite secluded life in a retreat center in Pennsylvania, where he is sometimes consulted about the service projects, especially those of intercultural and interfaith dialogue and humanitarian aid.
Although universal schooling has been adopted as a goal by international organizations, bilateral aid agencies, national governments, and non-profit organizations, little sustained international attention has been devoted to the purposes or goals of universal education. What is universal primary and secondary education intended to accomplish?
The project on Universal Basic and Secondary Education (UBASE), based at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, recognized a lack of consensus within and among countries and a lack of focused international discussion on the desired content and aims of basic and secondary education.
This book offers views from Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America on the purposes of universal education while considering diverse cultures, religions, and professions. It is the first book in which renowned authors from around the world have proposed, considered, and debated goals of basic and secondary education, engaging in a constructive dialogue on one of the most pressing issues facing education today. 
The purposes of the report are to stimulate attention to educational goals on the part of individuals, families, educational professionals, community leaders in business, religion, and politics, local governments, national governments, and international organizations, and to provide some starting points for future discussions among the different groups with different agendas that compose any society on the globe. The study is to explore the venues to come up with an Secondary Education model that can be applied in a global prospective in improve the education just in one courtly but internationally. 
In the study Joel Cohen have started the research by raising the following questions
What should be the goals of basic and secondary education of high quality?
Which, if any, of these goals should be universal? What does universal mean? What happens when educational goals conflict? What are the meanings of high quality in basic and secondary education? Who decides these questions, and by what process do they decide? How should the quality of decisions about educational goals be evaluated?
The report, Educating All Children: A Global Agenda,  by the academy, a Cambridge, Mass. based independent policy research center, outlines an ambitious plan for improving educational access that goes beyond the goals of existing international initiatives, which have long focused on primary education, to include secondary school. 
The research suggests that achieving universal primary and secondary education is both urgently needed and feasible. Will the international community commit the necessary economic, human, and political resources? The challenge, say the editors, is “as inspiring and formidable … as any extraterrestrial adventures and far more likely to enrich and improve life on earth.”
Despite the findings, the study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences said the goal of providing a high-quality education to all children could be achieved at a reasonable cost with more support and funding from governments worldwide. “There’s no question that it’s possible,” said David Bloom, one of the authors of the study. “It’s a question of financial resources and it’s a question of political will.” “We … need to pay much more attention to education access at the secondary level and we need to pay attention to educational quality,” Bloom said. “It’s not just a question of getting kids into schools, it’s also a question of what you do with them once they’re in school.” The study attempted to lay out a vision of what the world would look like, “how much better the world would be if instead of using our resources for military purposes we used them to get every kid in the world into school and provide them with quality education.” 
There is no question on the fact that, achieving universal primary and secondary education is both urgently needed and feasible. Will the international community commit the necessary economic, human, and political resources? The main challenge is not financially oriented but rather on the leadership side. It is to have people to dedicate themselves on this cause which is inspiring and formidable … as any extraterrestrial adventures and far more likely to enrich and improve life on earth.
The educational perspective of Fethullah Gulen is the illumination of the mind to science and knowledge, and the lighting of the heart in faith and virtue. This can be accomplished though teachers who are committed to devoting their lives, time and knowledge to teach the younger generations in these educational institutions.
And, the recent findings are speaking about the extraordinary achievement Gulen-inspired school demonstrated so far. There are currently more than 1000 Gulen-inspired schools in more than 110 countries around the world. In the European countries, there are at least a dozen Gulen-inspired schools, and more than 150 smaller educational and cultural centers. Generally, Gulen-inspired schools are low fee schools due to the limited wealth of supporters of these educational projects . .
To President Obama’s Muslim Advisor Mogahed, the Gulen Movement is a model and inspiration for all those working for the good of society, and is a highly admirable and impressive movement in the world
inspired by FG
 Cohen, Joel E. and Martin B. Malin, eds. International Perspectives on the Goals of Universal Basic and Secondary Education. New York: Routledge USA, December 2009.
 Cohen, Joel E., David E. Bloom, Martin B. Malin, eds. Educating All Children: A Global Agenda. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, January 2007.
 Reuters World falling behind on 2015 education goal Wed Jan 17, 2007 7:15 PM ET
By David Alexander
 Education Week Worldwide Education Achievable, Study Says Published: January 19, 2007
Vol. 26, Issue 20, Page 16 By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo
 The Key Factors behind the Success of Gulen-Inspired Schools. Ahmet Polat, Executive Officer of the Australian Intercultural Society.
Al Mikell heard the accusations about the elementary school where he sends his two young children.
He did his own research, talked to teachers and students, and decided to stay.
“I was so impressed with the administrators, who happen to be Turkish, who happen to be Muslim, that I don’t worry,” said Mikell, an associate professor of biology at Oklahoma Christian University. “I feel very comfortable. I have never had any fragment of an idea that they were trying to convert anyone to anything.”
Mikell’s children attend Dove Science Academy Elementary, an Oklahoma City charter school funded with state tax dollars, run by a nonprofit organization, and free to students admitted through a lottery.
It is one of four Oklahoma charter schools run by the nonprofit Sky Foundation, which was founded in 2000 by five graduate students at Oklahoma State University. Most were members of the Turkish Student Association. In 2009, Sky Foundation reported nearly $8 million in revenue.
More than 120 charter schools nationwide were founded by Turkish nationals, beginning in 1999. The schools have excelled academically. They also have brought thousands of workers into the country on temporary visas.
And today the schools are part of a brewing controversy that touches on religion, Middle Eastern politics, the growing school choice movement and immigration.
Mikell said none of the controversy matters when he considers the outstanding education his children are receiving, tuition-free, at the Oklahoma City school.
At the center is Fethullah Gulen, a 70-year-old Turkish Muslim philosopher who preaches peace, interfaith cooperation, democracy and an emphasis on science and math.
From his current home — described as a retreat or compound in Pennsylvania — Gulen also promotes his brand of volunteerism that has inspired countless people throughout the world.
Social scientists, who have researched the Gulen Movement, claim there are millions of followers around the world and thousands of Gulen-inspired schools.
Meanwhile, a vocal and active group of bloggers is working to prove that the charter schools in America — founded and run predominantly by Turkish men — are in fact a network of schools doing the bidding of Gulen and obscuring their true purpose of the schools: to promote the movement and to help bring Gulen followers to the U.S.
Those in the movement — who live their lives according to Gulen’s teachings — are reticent to call it a movement, let alone agree there are charter schools inspired by Gulen.
“I would like to make a very clear distinction and put a space between Gulen-inspired schools and the nonexistence of what some bloggers call Gulen Charter schools,” said Ali Candir, president of The Gulen Institute at the University of Houston. “You can find these things on some ultra right-extremist blogs ... If there’s a Turkish person there it can be imagined that some of these individuals, not all of them of course, might be inspired by the works and life of Mr. Gulen.”
International Studies professor Joshua Hendrick at the University of Oregon has published a paper on the Gulen Movement and spoke at Rice University in Houston.
“What is mind-boggling to some and infuriating to others is why do the leaders deny affiliation when affiliation is clear?” Hendrick said in his lecture. “The school choice movement here in the United States allowed ... the Gulen Movement to take advantage of public funding, to create a situation whereby the United States now hosts more Gulen-inspired schools than any country in the world outside of Turkey.”
Jill Carroll, who teaches religious studies at Rice and published a book on the movement, says that while the schools were clearly inspired by Gulen there is no central organization. She said the American public has nothing to fear.
“The tendency is for people over here who are afraid of Islam and Muslims to think that these are madrassas or they’re teaching the Quran, and this is ridiculous,” Carroll said. “It’s nothing but fear mongering ... not based on anything factual.”
Across the nation, the charter schools are known for their strong math and science curriculums, as well as a heavy use of temporary nonimmigrant visas — H-1B visas — to bring foreign teachers to the United States.
The superintendent of the four Sky Foundation schools in Oklahoma, Kaan Camuz, said of 35 teachers at Dove Science Academy, 11 are from Turkey, Russia, Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan.
Those teachers, along with many others on the school’s four campuses, came to America on H-1B visas. Federal law allows employers unable to find qualified American employees to fill positions with foreign labor through a visa application process.
Last year, according to U.S. Department of Labor records, Sky and its charter schools had 53 H-1B visa applications, of which eight were withdrawn or denied and 45 were certified. The certified applications were sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State for further approval. Some were approved, others not.
“There are a lot of Turkish people in administration. There also are a lot of non-Turkish people in administration,” said Maureen Brown, principal of the Discovery School of Tulsa, an elementary school founded by Sky in 2009.
“I’m one of those people, and I’m not Turkish. I really like working in a multicultural environment.”
Getting in The Oklahoma charter schools serve a high percentage of minority and low-income students and perform solidly on mandatory state exams. Dove Science Academy — a sixth- through 12th-grade school that just celebrated its 10-year anniversary — was named the state’s top high school in 2009 by Business Week.
Last month more than 100 parents filled the cafeteria at Dove Science Academy, hoping their children would be selected to attend the school next August.
“I’m just really hoping that she gets in,” Ivonne Simental said of her daughter, wanting to fill one of the few slots open for seventh grade.
But her eyes filled with tears when her daughter wasn’t drawn in the lottery for automatic admission.
“I’ll probably work two jobs to try to send her to a private school,” she said.
Camuz said every year they have to turn away more students. He tells parents, students and teachers about the accusations against his school, but most often they aren’t concerned.
“They give their most valuable thing to us, their children,” Camuz said.
By Megan Rolland
News Article from newsOK.com
We moved to State College last September and enrolled our daughter in Young Scholars of Central PA charter school. We made our decision based on the reputation of the school and the curriculum it offered: Singapore math; daily classes in Spanish and Chinese and weekly class instruction in Turkish; Turkish dance and cultural classes after school; and a host of other extracurricular activities.
Most of all, we were impressed with the professionalism of the teachers and administrators. We paid particular attention to the quality of the teachers, because everyone knows that teachers make the school.
At the time we registered our daughter, we heard about the alleged cabal surrounding Fethullah Gulen (CDT, March 22). The school was open about Gulen, and we read about his educational philosophy. We dismissed concern about Gulen as a distraction perpetuated by people opposed to or dissatisfied with the school.
As far as we can tell, our daughter has not been taught or influenced by Islamic precepts or any other religious doctrine. She is learning fact-based educational material in a positive school setting. We would hate to think that the Gulen issue has been revived out of fear or suspicion over the Turkish and Islamic character of some of the teachers and administrators at Young Scholars.
We remain strongly committed to and supportive of Young Scholars and urge parents and readers to ignore the Gulen bugaboo.
Dennis McIntosh and Caroline Wagner State College
Paul Williams: – “Dear children, my name is Paul Williams. Because your teacher is sick, I will be here with you today. The administration of the school couldn’t find anyone to substitute her and I decided to fill the gap by instructing today’s class. I have to confess that it might be not a field of my expertise, but I assure you, I have a great deal of experience to improvise and talk about any topic, even if such is beyond my understanding… Ok, let us start. Can anyone help me by telling the subject of today’s class?”
Jim Aware: “We have been studying the educational system of the US and we have to study charter schools this week.”
Paul Williams: “Ouch! It is going to be tough! ” he thought to himself but after a short pause he addressed the class, “Oh, it is a piece of cake! I know about this type of schools… charters. Basically they are privately owned educational outlets to promote a certain ideology. In other words, they brainwash our children. They say that their goal is to provide a better education, but they fill children’s heads with poisonous and contagious ideas”
Kate Straightforward: “But, aren’t these schools - public schools? Our teacher taught us that they are supported and controlled by the government.”
Paul Williams: “Yes they are…” he mumbled, disappointed that he had to correct himself. “Moreover!” he added with the sudden inspiration in his voice, “It is even worse! Since they are public charter schools they must be using taxpayers’ money to do their work! We are paying our own money to help them to spoil our next generation, our future! For example, I know about Gulen Charter Schools. Fethullah Gulen is an Islamic preacher from Turkey. And he has established schools which are trying to promote a radical Islamic ideology! “
Justin Curious: “I have a question. Our teacher told us that charter schools are monitored by the government. Likewise the curriculum and books used in charter schools are approved and supervised by the representatives of the Department of Education. Additionally, charters schools operate under the state and federal laws and they are periodically monitored. Taking into account these facts, how can charter schools have classes where radical Islam is being taught? Who would give permission to operate such school?”
Paul Williams: “Well, I don’t know…”
Justin Curious: “And also” continued student, “You mentioned the Gulen Charter Schools. Do they have curriculum based on Islamic teaching? Do they teach his ideas? ”
Paul Williams: “No, they don’t…”
Justin Curious: “Do they identify themselves as Gulen Charter Schools?”
Paul Williams: “No, they don’t…”
Justin Curious: “Than how did you find them? And how do you identify them?”
Paul Williams: “Hmm… It wasn’t easy for me to find Gulen Charters Schools. Actually I couldn’t find any official institution which is named Gulen Charter School. But it didn’t stop me; I had to use some creativity and imagination to succeed.” And he proudly added “Remember children! Creativity and imagination are two tools that will give you desired outcome if only you try hard enough!” After he had enjoyed the moment when at the first time class seemed to be interested instead of being doubtful, he continued, “What I did is that I searched for a person who is somehow interested in ideas of Gulen and who is working at a charter school. And when I find one who meets those criteria, I can rightfully claim such institution as a Gulen Charter School.”
Jack Promiscuous: “Teacher, teacher!” screamed one of the students, “I guess I got it! So, in general… if we find somebody who is inspired by a certain idea or belief, we can claim that in institution where he works, in community where he lives, in the gym where he works out, and at the grocery where he buys products everyone is having the same inspiration, same belief and similar social identity.”
Paul Williams: “Yes, you are right…” he confirmed by default still digesting the information.
Jack Promiscuous: “To be more specific” the student continued by momentum of arrived ideas, “I read that a number of academics in many leading universities are supporting Gulen’s ideas. They are even hosting conferences, seminars and workshops! Stemming from your teachings we can name all of them Gulen Charter Universities! Or at least public ones… For private universities, we can call them simply Gulen Universities.”
Paul Williams: “Exactly...” the word silently soared of his chest full of satisfaction from what he just heard.
Paola Justice: “How can you say this?” asked a young girl sitting in the middle of the class, “In fact, one trait of a person can’t comprehensively describe his or her character, and more so it can’t represent a diverse community where he or she exists. It is not only inaccurate identification and misleading information, but also a discrimination!
Common Sense: “What is going on here?!” spoke a man who has appeared at the doorstep of the classroom.
Paul Williams: “Who are you? And why are you interrupting our class?
Jim Aware: “This is our President Mr. Common Sense.”
Common Sense: “I remember that I rejected your application for a substitute teacher position. I don’t tolerate unauthorized and unqualified teaching in these walls, and frankly I don’t think that any other school will. You can try out virtual classrooms, on the internet, where Mr. Sense has no administrative powers.”
There are two major allegations that are currently employed in the United States by Gülen opponents in order to discredit and cause fear mongering about him: One that the charter schools opened in various states by Turkish-Americans are connected to Gülen, and that they are spreading “Islamic fundamentalism;” and the other that Gülen is behind the ongoing Ergenekon investigation in Turkey, which has led to the detainment of many active duty and retired army officers as well as journalists. The first allegation begs the following question: Would the US authorities that have authorized and overseen these schools, not be aware of any such wrongdoing, if any? The second allegation is a mere distortion of the facts on the ground. Currently there are 26 journalists being detained in relation to the Ergenekon investigation, and none of them are being held because they exercised their freedom of expression, but rather because of their suspected involvement in verified coup plans that aimed to overthrow Turkey’s democratically elected government. In fact, it is similar to the case of The New York Times’ Judith Miller, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail in 2005 due to her involvement in the leaking of an active CIA officer’s identity. One wonders if anybody then opposed the court decision by arguing that she was exercising her freedom of expression as a journalist. Similarly, was a Hutu radio host exercising his freedom of expression when he incited his fellow Hutus to massacre Tutsis ahead of what eventually amounted to the Rwanda genocide? Furthermore, even if a prosecutor or a police officer who happens to admire Gülen and is involved in the Ergenekon investigation went rogue and broke the law, what does it have to do with Gülen himself or the millions of others who admire his ideals?
read full article at Today's Zaman
I assume those, who can read this article, are familiar with the new way of living; a life-changing and dominating new type of doing business, communication, shopping and etc. This new paradigm is composed of three letters that have never been used this much before: w, w and w. The new reality has its own rules, own rights and own wrongs. The most important point here, which has the potential to cause far bigger ones in near future is that to what extent this new, virtual reality matches the real reality of real life.
If you are locked in front of a 17 inch screen most of your weekdays or addicted to surfing the web while driving back home, then you're most probably used to receiving complaints from your loved ones like: "You still did not comment on the latest amazing photo i've uploaded" or "I am so desperate. I have only 223 friends on my FB account" or "I can't believe you've seen the King's Speech and still did not tweet about it. You're a goddamn old fashioned." Sounds familiar? For now, it's only interesting but if you've not heard any complaints from the same friends about not going out together for a long time, or if you do not remember when was the last time you've played basketball together or at least you've done something real together, if these were all way too long ago, now it is time to call Houston, because you have a real problem.
Day by day, we're getting lost in our virtual reality and loose the significant connection with our real world. Unfortunately, our understanding of reality is about to change. We've almost forgotton what 'double checking' is. 'Fact-finding'? Forget about that. 'Citation', 'Source', 'Quote'? Has anyone heard these freakish words since college? Incredible developments in technology has come with is own pros and cons. And i believe the shift in our understanding of the 'truth' is its biggest disadvantage. We are inclined to belive anyting on some bogus blogs referring to another bogus blog, the source of which is another bogus blog and etc. Relying on these groundless claims of the blogosphere, we are all moving ourselves to an island of confusion where we are fed by conspiracy and breath fear. Being online for 14 hours a day makes easier for us to believe that President Obama is an Indonesian; the world is under the threat of being occupied by the friends of E.T, Islamists are about to force all beautiful women in the United States to be covered before the end of the year 2011, or indeed, Bill Gates is the biggest Islamist on earth cause he has been supporting the some Gulenist organizations. Yes, all are unbelivable but which seems 'the most ridiculous blogger claim' to you? Last one? Agreed.
If you got confused at this point, it means you have not heard about M. Fethullah Gulen and the worldwide civic movement he inspired yet. Being a Turkish-Muslim scholar, Gulen has always emphesized the significant role of education for peoples of all religions, cultures and ethnicities to achieve world peace and so, by his inspirations, hundreds of schools have been founded all around the world and educates the children of different backgrounds. Through intercultural dialogue centers, those who aprreciate Mr. Gulen's ideals brought together people from all walks of life and believers of all faiths systems even in the most conflicted regions of this planet. As, the success stories of the Gulen Movement in contributing to wider global communities is not the main theme of this article, please click here if you need further information about the movement.
Let's get back to our topic. Yes, there are some blogs that claim Bill Gates is the biggest Islamist on earth. Yes, there are some bogus blogs that claim this because according to them Gates has supported some so-called Gulenist insitutions. (Here you can find a wonderful article about the so called Gulen Charter Schools issue) Yes, there are some bogus blogs that repeatedly mention the word 'Gulenist'.. Yes there, really, are some blogs that keep saying that Gulen, along with Bill Gates, is the biggest Islamist threat to us. They, at least, did not include, Marthin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and John F. Kennedy to the list; this is something..
So why do they keep telling us that there are some Gulenist institutions. Why are they trying to convince us that there are some Gulenist people around us? Why do they insist on using the word Gulenist? One, indeed, referred to the movement as 'Marksist, Leninist and Kemalist Gulen Movement'.. I'm serious. I know it sounds very much like your 4 year-old trying to convince you that he has seen an alien playing soccer, baseball and basketball at the same time in a swimming pool but this is what they've really written down. Yes, I know there is no way that someone can be Marxist, Leninist and Islamist at the same time but given the ridicolousity of their claims, our question still remains unanswered. Why do they do this?
Here is the answer. Read carefully:
The Sandwich Theory
Let I be an interval having the point a as a limit point. Let f, g, and h be functions defined on I, except possibly at a itself. Suppose that for every x in I not equal to a, we have:
and also suppose that:
Got it? No? Be patient. It's not more confusing then trying to understand the mindset of those who are behind these smear campaigns..
Mathematicians call this the Sandwich Theorem (or Squeeze Theorem). To simply put it we can say when a<b<c and both a and c are bigger than zero, b must be bigger than zero too. (You, math geeks who are now preparing to send me a long e-mail describing these two has minor differences in between, slow down guys, this is not Calculus.101, i am trying to make things easier) The idea is that when you take a bite from a sandwich, if both breads are in your mouth, the meat in between should also be in the same mouth. Another example; the socks you are wearing now are flying on a plane, similarly the t-shirt on you is aboard on the same plane.. So, where are you now? There is no way you are on the ground, you absolutely must be flying on the same plane where your socks and your t-shirt are. I hope the examples helped you understand the idea. This theory helps us solve very complicated limit equations in a minute. And it also, unfortunately, helps some dudes to think that they can play with our mindsets easily.
Here we have the equation: 'Marxist, Leninist, Kemalist, Gulenist Movement'. If you are breathing on this planet you obviously should know what Marxism is. Add Leninism to it. Not so long after the cold war, what is your perception about these two ideologies? 'Oh, boy, they are bad.' You may have very little knowledge about the Gulen Movement but, frankly speaking, what would you think after your brain unintentionaly apply the Sandwich theorem to the equation. It must be something bad and threatful. 'Marxism is bad, Leninism is threatful, so Gulen Movement should be something similar'
This is the mindset. Actually it is not so complicated and very difficult to buy but having tens of different bogus blogs refering to each other - most of them registered under same names - and supporting themselves via circulating links, can make them think, one day their smear campaign will be successful and everyone will believe their groundless claims. After a certain point, it is not so easy to convince them that common sense will never buy their slanders. So the best way is to leave them alone in their fearful, tiny world of conspiracies and take the first exit to the real world.
Let Fethullah Gulen himself say the final word about him and the movement he inspired: "I can have no direct influence on any person or activity. It is inconceivable that i can exert pressure on anybody. But some people may regard my views weel and show respect to me, and I hope they have not deceived themselves in doing so. Some people think that I am a leader of a movement. Some think that there is a central organization responsible for all the institutions they mistakenly affiliated with me. They ignore the zeal of many to serve humanity and to gain God's goof pleasure in doing so. They ignore people's generosity."
So, at the end of the day we know that Mr. President is not Indonesian, ET's alter egos will not occupy our planet, no beautiful girls around you will be forced to wear headscarf and no, Bill Gates, is not an Islamist. He is not supporting terrorists and you do not need to burn your Microsoft Office CD.
To do list:
- Stay away from any blogs that lacks citations for their groundless claims.
- If possible choose more reliable sources. Nope; The Last Crusade is absolutely not one of them.
- If you receive an e-mail claiming that we are under 'something-ist' threat, do whatever you want but do not forward it to your contact list.
- Turn the computer off for a while.
- Go to the next room and tell your loved one you love her/him more than everything else. No, do not send her/him an e-mail. Go and tell that in person. Indeed, give her/him a hug.
- Get out with your real friends. Do something real. Have a pet, live the real life and get rid of those shady conspiracies poured into your brain by some unnamed bloggers.
article from getthefact.com
May be they will get it if it is said in Latin: Illic Est Haud Talis Res Ut Gulen Pactum Schola! There is no such thing as a Gulen Charter School! Fethullah Gulen said it himself in several settings1. The so called Gulen Charter School administrators explained it many times. But they still don’t get it, and probably won’t get it no matter how many different languages it is translated into or how many different contexts it is articulated in. But let’s give it another shot.
Quid est Carta Schola? What’s a charter school anyway?
US Department of Education defines a charter school as “a publicly funded school that is typically governed by a group or organization under a legislative contract or charter with the state; the charter exempts the school from selected state or local rules and regulations. In return for funding and autonomy, the charter school must meet the accountability standards articulated in its charter.”2
Reiterating the definition, a charter school is a public school run by an independent entity. In order to run a charter, one needs to draft and sign a contract with the state or district board of education. In the contract, the authorizer could grant some level of autonomy and freedom from several rules and regulations. Per the agreement, a charter school may develop its own curriculum, or set its own educational program, or hire its own staff, of course all under the oversight of the authorizing agent. Another aspect of charter schools is that they are schools of choice. The voluntary enrollment makes a charter school more accountable before the board of education, and more importantly before the parents and students.
US Charter Schools, a site supported by US Department of Education and National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, add the following to the definition “The charter establishing each such school is a performance contract detailing the school's mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success.”3 So unlike traditional public schools, charter schools cannot stay open unless they deliver high quality education.
EdReform has a short list of frequently asked questions4, clarifying several other aspects of charters schools. The following fast facts that can be derived from similar FAQ sites.
- Charter schools are public schools that operate under the federal and state laws. There are very specific education articles that each and every charter school has to comply with.
- Charter schools are mostly founded by non-profit organizations which are required to report not only their financials but also their operations to keep their non-profit status.
- Charter school authorizers monitor and oversee the charter schools in their district. They audit charter school financials, operations and academic performance at least annually with a very fine-toothed comb. Depending on the severity of findings, schools are required to fix those issues within a cure period, and if due diligence is not followed, their charter can be revoked.
Qui est Gulen? And what’s Gulen got to do with charter schools?
How about the other part of the clause? Who is Fethullah Gulen and how is related to charter schools? A little research shows that Fethullah Gulen is a Turkish preacher, educator, author and a Muslim scholar currently living in the US.
Gulen Institute, a Houston based non-profit organization, introduce Fethullah Gulen as “the initiator and inspirer of the worldwide social movement of human values known as the Hizmet (Service) Movement or Gulen Movement. Focused on education where secular curricula are taught by teachers who aspire to represent high values of humanity, this social phenomenon defeats easy categorization.”5
It is not only the sociologists that have difficulty in categorizing Gulen Movement, but also the educators in analyzing the movement’s contribution to education. Dr. Muhammed Cetin, the author of “Gulen Movement: Civic Service without Borders”6, the most extensive study so far on the movement, explains the misunderstanding as follows: “The use of terms like ‘Gulen schools’ can arise from ignorance or disinformation. If the term ‘Gulen schools’ is equated with, for example, Montessori schools (where a particular training and qualifications are required for personnel and a specific methodology is used), it leads to misunderstanding.”
Dr. Cetin suggests Gulen-Inspired Schools as the correct term, “Because of its brevity, outsiders tend to use ‘Gulen schools’ rather than ‘Gulen-inspired schools’, but the shorter term seems to imply some sort of central control of activities and even an ideology, while the second makes it clearer that there is no centralization in the movement. Gulen movement participants tend to use the Turkish term hizmet (volunteer services) for the projects and services they provide. This is a solution for the inconsistency in naming the Gulen movement and the institutions it inspires and in clarifying their identity for outside observers.”
The Non Sequitur of the so called Gulen Charter Schools
EdReform reports that there are more than 5,000 charter schools serving more than 1.5 million schools in 40 states.7 So how many of these five thousand schools are Gulen Charter Schools? Nemo prorsus! Not one at all! Because there is no school in the United States named as ‘Gulen Charter School’. You could say, that’s a no brainer, but how about the rumors on the Web?
Well according to some internet spies within the blog circles there are more than a hundred. There are even a few charter school networks that had been named as Gulen Charter Schools. So far the winners are: Concept schools, Harmony Schools, Magnolia Schools, etc.
So how do these bloggers categorize these schools? What do they consider to decide whether a school is Gulen Charter School or not? Let’s look at the components of a charter school, see which one could be the common factor. If we look at the listed charter schools and where they operate, we see they are all chartered under different states: some are in Ohio, some other in Texas, some else are in California. If we look at the specific locations, some reside in suburbia whereas others are located in the urban districts. If we look at the student demographics, they vary a lot again. Some have African-Americans and some others have Latino-Americans as the majority of the population whereas some have very diverse demographics including various percentages of whites, blacks, and Hispanics.
Is it the curriculum or educational program then? Gulen is an Islamic scholar, so these schools might be using an Islamic curriculum? That cannot be the case, as all charter schools are public schools, and the education is and has to be secular in all. Even the Catholic private schools converting to charter schools have to revise their curriculum to comply with that. In some states, charter schools don’t get any public funding for facilities, and if they need to lease space in a church, then they have to clean up or cover all religious signs in the school facilities too.
Some bloggers mention that the so called Gulen Charter Schools emphasize mathematics or science or technology as their focus of educational program. But so does several other hundred or thousand. Does that make Kennesaw Charter in Cobb County, or Washington Math Science Technology Charter School in DC, or Harbor Science and Arts Charter School in New York, Gulen Charter Schools as well? If not, esse quam videri!
For some it is inevitable to be labeled as a Gulen Charter School even if the school theme is different. One blogger notes that the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania charter school appears (?) to emphasize languages instead of the usual math and science emphasis. This specific blogger (on weebly) also lists several characteristics of Gulen Charter Schools as free after school tutoring, robotics clubs, online student information systems for assignments and grades, character education, high scores on standardized tests even with very challenging student demographics. High achievements not only in state tests but national science fairs and international competitions as well. Well I don’t care what the school theme is then; just sign me up. I am serious. If you could locate such a school in my neighborhood let me know.
The question in hand was, why and how were these charter schools connected to Gulen? The blogger on Weebly lists several quotes from academia loosely referring to charter or Gulen schools which actually proves the misunderstanding on how these schools are related to Gulen. In other entries in the same blog, a bunch of names that seem to be cherry picked from staff of the so called Gulen Charter Schools are listed. Some of these staff happen to be previously employed by a Gulen affiliated institution, whereas some other published a note in an affiliated magazine, and some other participated in an interfaith event. So if you happen to pass by any of these and then contribute to public education as a teacher or an activist or even as a parent or student in one of the listed schools, and that school is somehow, and God knows how, remotely related to Gulen, then you are probably marked too. What is this if not McCarthyism?
The cavil about foreign employees of these charter schools is also significant. Harmony Schools is reported to hiring 15% of their teaching staff of 1,200 from other countries8. For Concept schools that figure is close to 25%9. Those numbers may seem high, but large public school districts are doing that as well. In 2008, Baltimore City schools had 593 foreign teachers out of 7000 and Prince George’s County had 556 out of 10,00010. This has not only taken place in Maryland; Los Angeles Unified District imported around 300 Filipino teachers since 200711. It is a common practice that school districts in need hire teachers from overseas. A recent article concludes that we have to do that more as “They can help solve the teacher shortage while exposing our kids to new ways of looking at the world, says Professor Jonathan Zimmerman”.12 Unless you are xenophobe, why would you object to that?
The irony is that the foreign teachers in the so called Gulen Schools are accused of being the CIA-front in other parts of the world, and at the same time trying to infiltrate here in the United States. Jeff Stein of Washington Post13 quotes Graham Fuller, former CIA station chief in Kabul and author of ‘The Future of Political Islam’, responding “I think the story of 130 CIA agents in Gulen Schools in Central Asia is pretty wild”. Fuller adds “I cannot even imagine trying to credibly sell such a scheme with a straight face within the agency. As for Nuri Gundes, I am not aware of who he is or what he has written. But there is a lot of wild stuff floating around in Turkey on these issues and Gulen is a real hot button issue.” Mustafa Akyol, deputy editor of Turkish Daily News indentifies the conspiracy theories around Gulen a bit like The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the notorious anti-Semitic forgery.14
See where you will end up with if you follow the same defective logic on other charter schools. KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a nationwide network of charter schools, running 99 schools in twenty states serving more than 27,000 students.15 KIPP has recently opened a branch in Israel.16 Before that the highest contributor of KIPP was Don and Doris Fisher who have Jewish heritage. Moreover, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, the cofounders of KIPP schools, both Jewish as well, respond to the question “How have your Jewish values informed your work?” by telling that “We were taught that, "The world itself rests upon the breath of the children in our schools" (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5). For us, this is summed up in our philosophy that to be successful children need to "word hard and be nice."” 17 So are they cultivating the Hebrew tradition in KIPP schools? Is KIPP is a Judaic charter school network then? They may even be a Zionist network? I am sure you are laughing out loud to these paranoid conspiracies, but then how is that any different than labeling Concept Schools as Gulen Charter Schools?
If you have the same tunnel vision syndrome, you can repeat the same drill with Imagine Schools,18 largest commercial manager of charter schools in the US operating 73 schools serving more than 40,000 students, or with National Heritage Academies, another for-profit charter school management group running 67 schools in eight states. I am sure you could come up with enough material to fill up several blogs of rants and raves.
Who is playing this name and blame game?
A group of anonymous bloggers are playing around the so called Gulen Charter Schools with such endless rants and raves. All referring to each other in order to create a circle of Big Lie19: If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
The rules of the game are really easy: Find a charter school with a theme focusing on science or math. Check out their staff and founders, and if you come up with an oriental name anywhere label the school as a Gulen Charter School. Circulate it within a ring of bloggers. Next step is to find out news about sponsors and supporters of the school. If you can’t locate any wrongdoing or anything illegitimate then make it up. For sure they will get some sort of grants and public funding. In case the auditors don’t report any findings, do a little photoshopping in order to manipulate the news: Buy the sponsor a kefiyyeh and make Bill Gates look like Bin Laden20. If that is too complicated for you, then copy a piece from these hate blogs, and submit comments to any articles that mentions a bit about education. The article does not need to be related to charter schools. Who cares about schools and education anyway? Just cast some aspersions.
Who are the players in this Big Lie name and blame game? You name it: ultra-right extremists, supremacists, xenophobes, grudged employees, disgruntled parents, and charter opponents. Among these ghost-fighters, a few are worth to mention to show the gravity of the situation:
Dr. Williams, who needs an immediate appointment with Dr. Phil, is running a hate website ranting on anything Islamic. It looks like the Don Quixote is running the last crusade against education jihad in his hallucinations. With every flow of rumors on the so called Gulen Charter Schools, Sir Odium Generis Islami dons his armors and sets out on his trusty steed tilting at windmills again. His orders to squiring Sanchos: Don’t let the bastards grind you down. One of his Sanchos should probably order their lionhearted knight couple of boxes of antipsychotics.
On another stage, the greatest actress of freedom is acting for America. Rising in defense of our liberty Brigitte Gabriel is calling all conscious patriots for action: They must be stopped! “They” obviously refer to Muslims. Casus belli! Are “they” extremists or fundamentalists? Who cares? Gulen appears to be innocuous, but he is a Muslim too, let’s throw mud at him, maybe this time it will stick. Gabriel is also founder of the American Congress for Truth, but which truth? In her paranoid schizophrenia there is no truth other than what she hallucinates.
In the world of such xenophobia and paranoia, you cannot possibly be a good citizen if you come from a different walk of life. Therefore you should not dare to contribute to community at all. How could you possibly help in education without a sinister intension or hidden agenda? If you were a Latino-American, African-American, or perish the thought a Muslim-American, then your existence is the very problem. Could there be any good in such an alien? No way! But one should ask then, where does Brigitte Gabriel come from? And don’t get your hopes high for Paul Williams either; unless his grandparents were one of the last Mohicans, he is an immigrant too. After all that might be the very reason for their hatred, as one cannot hate others so much without hating oneself. Odio ergo sum! As Descartes puts it, “It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”
What can be done to correct the misconceptions?
Should Gulen post ads in the daily papers telling that he has nothing to do with charter schools, or a infiltration, if any, or stealth jihad or whatever dark scenarios or conspiracies that loons are hallucinating that day? Should he report to these watch sites every day pledging his allegiance? As a matter of fact, Gulen has been preaching peace, tolerance, and mutual respect, interfaith and intercultural dialog every day of his life since he has known himself. His teachings have been recorded and transcribed for decades. He has got no fights with anything but ignorance. He has been acquitted of all allegations in many courts. In what jurisdiction does promoting love and tolerance, peace and harmony, education and dialog constitutes a crime anyway?
In a recent conversation, Gulen asks "Why don't they believe? Why do they, inside and outside, enter a process that can only be explained with reference to the psychological disease called paranoia? Why can't they get rid of their doubts and qualms? What has been said and done is evident, and despite there being nothing adding substance to their suspicions, why do they still look suspiciously at us?"
Answering, he says: "They do not look at the world from the same window as we do. They don't believe in the hereafter as we do. The values that are dear to us mean nothing to them. We seek the hereafter, paradise, the divine beauty, and we say, 'We do it to please God without any other motive,' but they focus on this world, seeing everything other than that. We say we are not motivated by fame, glory, position or money, while they put them at the center of their lives. While we say, 'One should not be deceived by this transient world, and we should do whatever we do in this ephemeral world with the hereafter in mind and to please God,' they think and believe exactly the opposite. Knowing that 'the tastes of this world are like a poisonous honey and pleasures are always accompanied by woes,' we believe that all pleasures, legitimate or illegitimate, are means for being tested in this world, but they do not have such criteria in their hands."
He then comes back to the beginning: "Even if they do not believe, and continue to be suspicious, you will not change your way. You will go on with your plans and projects for revival and the strengthening of universal values. Your attitude and behavior will continue to show that you are unfazed by worldly wants or goals. Without giving rise to paranoia, and by using various means, you will say strongly that you do not have motives other than achieving peace and the salvation of humanity. You will use everything from painting to music, from novels to poetry, from cinema to sports as a means. Some may raise objections. So be it. Some may have doubts if this is the right thing today. Let them. Why should we not use these means for revival and repair when they have been used for destruction up until now? I am a child of my time. I don't think anyone who is sane and who can make sense of the world properly will object to them. Even if they do, it means nothing. And you will be patient. You cannot treat chronic and gangrenous wounds all at once and magically."21
Wait till a blogger gets that!
Article from getthefact.com
- Gulen Charter Schools Myth Flourishes
- Gulen Inspired Schools / Gulen Charter Schools
- Gulen Inspired Schools
- Obama meets Gulen inspired school’s award-winning students
- NYT Article by Sabrina Tavernise about Gulen Schools
- CHARTER SCHOOL OPPOSITIONS
- An Easy Way of Aspersion on Best Charter Schools: Label Them as “Gulen Charter Schools”