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On March 19, 2013, the Illinois State Charter School Commission approved two new Chicago charter schools to be operated by Concept Schools. The decision reversed a ruling by Chicago Public Schools. Concept Schools is a charter management organization associated with the Gulen movement, a religious group with a global reach that originated in Turkey forty years ago. The movement is involved with business, media, interfaith dialogue, and Turkish culture promotional activities – but it is especially known for its focus on establishing schools. People in Turkey are familiar with the movement and aware of its connection to certain Turkish schools. People in other countries who are not familiar with the movement may only notice that a local school is “Turkish-run.” To date, members of the Gulen movement have opened hundreds of private schools in over 100 countries around the world, as well as 135 charter schools in the United States. The creation of charter school law presented the Gulen movement with the opportunity to establish schools in the US that would be fully funded by American taxpayers. The founders of Concept Schools opened the movement’s first charter schools in 1999, two Horizon Science Academy schools in Ohio. Today, Concept is a regional organization that operates 27 charter schools in seven Midwestern states, two of which are Illinois: the Chicago Math and Science Academy and Quest Charter Academy in Peoria. This report will provide readers with a basic understanding about the Gulen movement, its structure in the US, and some of the activities in which it is engaged, especially as they relate to the movement’s charter schools in Illinois. It contains the following sections:
Page 2: A brief overview of the Gulen movement Page 3: The secretive and controversial and nature of the Gulen movement Page 4: The structure of the Gulen movement’s “web of organizations” within the US Page 6: Gulen movement organizations in Illinois Page 7: Concept Schools and the Gulenist Turkish American Society of Chicago Page 9: The case of Quest Charter Academy and Caterpillar ex-CEO Glen Barton Page 10: The Gulen movement’s subsidized, guided trips to Turkey Page 10: Illinois public officials, VIPs, and the Gulen movement Page 15: Conclusion Page 16: References
The real motivation of the Gulen movement -- charter schools and all -- is to accumulate political and financial resources to further the transformation of Turkey itself, according to Joshua Hendrick, assistant professor of sociology and global studies at Loyola University in Maryland and perhaps the leading U.S. scholar of Gulen. – Portland Press Herald (1)
A brief overview of the Gulen movement
“Gulen movement” is the most commonly used term for the group of individuals who follow the teachings of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic and controversial Turkish Muslim preacher. Members refer to themselves as Hizmet (“service”). This group is widely known in Turkey as the cemaat (“The Community”). Historically, new members have been recruited at the movement’s tutoring centers, dormitories, and schools. It is estimated that there are between three and six million members of the Gulen movement. The total population of Turkey is approximately 80 million, 99% of who are classified as Muslim (mostly Sunni). As with all religions, beliefs and degree of practice vary.
The precise number of [Fethullah Gulen Community] members is difficult to estimate since some publicly deny affinity or membership with the movement. They do not mention his name openly, but may refer to him as ‘hocaefendi’ (master hodja) or ‘he’. Although the movement emerged from Turkey, today it has a global reach. – Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst (2)
The RAND National Defense Research Institute issued a report in 2008 which provides this overview of the efforts of the Gulen movement. (3) “... A web of organizations propagates Gulen’s vision of Islam. These include Fatih University in Istanbul and an extensive network of schools, hospitals, and charitable and media organizations, including the mass-circulation newspaper Zaman, television stations Samanyolu (Milky Way) and Mehtap (Full Moon), and the English-language Ebru satellite television station in the United States... “The Gulen movement has also developed a very effective international network beyond Eurasia, with many adherents in the United States (where the movement’s founder lives)... “Gulen himself moved to the United States in 1999 after he was indicted for allegedly plotting to subvert Turkey’s secular state. He was acquitted in 2006 but has remained in the United States because his return to Turkey could become a political issue... “... Also worth noting is TUSKON (Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey), a recently established organization that explicitly represents the interests of conservative Anatolian entrepreneurs in Turkey and abroad... (TUSKON is considered to be the “fourth leg” of the movement, the other three being its education, media, and interfaith dialogue activities.)...” The Gulen movement is highly nationalistic and heavily involved with promoting Turkish language and culture. The Gulen movement’s media often reports the activities of organization within the movement’s “web.” Note: Chicago Math and Science Academy’s student involvement in Turkish competitions has been reported by both Ebru TV and Zaman newspaper.
The secretive and controversial nature of the Gulen movement
The Gulen movement’s secretive nature and use of strategic ambiguity has caused repeated concern in Turkey and elsewhere. Hakin Altinay, current chairman of the Open Society Foundation in Turkey and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, told The New Republic, “No society would tolerate this big of an organization being this untransparent.” (4) Organizations within the movement’s web, as well as the individuals who are involved, are extremely reluctant to disclose their affiliation to outsiders. Bill Park, a Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London and a British expert on Turkish politics has stated, “Fethullahci are often loath to declare themselves openly as such.” And, “Gulen institutions do not publicize their Gulen affiliation anywhere they operate.” (5, 6) Sometimes members are willing to say that they are “inspired by” Gulen. Sometimes organizations will say that Fethullah Gulen is their “Honorary President,” as does the Niagara Foundation in Chicago.
Responses from Gulen charter school leaders
● Some teachers "might be influenced" by Gülen, but, [Murat Biyik, acting principal at Beehive Academy] said, "In Turkey almost everyone knows him and gets acquainted with his ideas via mass media and such." – Deseret News (UT), 2009 ● “... Mehmet Argin, principal of Tucson's Sonoran Science Academy, says his school's parent corporation, Daisy Education Corp., "has no legal or organic ties" with other schools. He cautions against linking charter schools founded by Turkish-Americans directly to the Gulen Movement "just because Turkish-Americans may be inspired by Mr. Gulen." – USA Today, 2010 ● [Nihat Guvercin, CEO of Bergen Arts & Science Charter School] said he admires Gulen — just as he admires Gandhi — but his teachers never talk in class about Gulen's philosophy. – The Record
● "Our schools are public charter schools. They're not Turkish schools, they're not Islamic schools. They provide a high quality education," said Salim Ucan, Vice President of Concept Schools. –
WEWS TV/NewsNet5 (OH), 2011
● [Alpaslan Ozdogan, chief executive officer of Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania] said his only connection to Gulen is that he has read Gulen's books and became inspired by him. – South
Hills Record (PA), 2011
● "There may be people inspired by Gülen who are here. That doesn't make it a Gülen school."... "Being inspired by Gülen, or Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi is not a crime," [Triad Math and Science Academy Principal Hakan Orak] told the Indy. – Independent Weekly (NC), 2012 ● In an interview at the Pioneer school, [Baris Icin, the school’s executive director] denied any connection to other Turkish-led schools in the United States or to Gulen. “There is no Gulen influence in the school whatsoever,” said Icin. – Boston Globe (MA), 2013
The Gulen movement is highly controversial in Turkey and even feared, as reflected in this CBS 60 Minutes interview with Andrew Finkel, an American journalist who has been reporting from Turkey for 25 years. (7) Lesley Stahl: So I guess one of the big questions is what kind of an Islamic leader is Gulen? Andrew Finkel: He leads by his own charismatic personality. Lesley Stahl: Would you call it a personality cult? Andrew Finkel: Yes... Lesley Stahl: You know we have confronted real fear about this movement, particularly when we've tried to get critics to give us an interview. What are they afraid of? Andrew Finkel: There's a fear of reprisal...
"They claim that these charter schools are independent and have no connection to the Gulen movement, and I said to them: 'That's baloney,' " said William Martin, senior fellow in religion and public policy at Baker Institute of Rice University in Texas, where Gulen followers have set up dozens of charter schools. Martin has followed the movement for years, traveled to Turkey at their expense, and counts its leaders there as friends. “I say to them: ‘Look, there’s nothing wrong with your saying that you are admirers and followers of Mr. Gulen, and to say this is what he stands for and this is what you stand for, “but they say that their lawyers have said that they shouldn’t be open about it.” –
Portland Press Herald (8)
The Gulen movement’s “web of organizations” within the US
The 2008 RAND report explained that a “web of organizations propagates Gulen’s vision of Islam.” This web is an enormous and expanding global network which includes over 300 organizations in the United States. It takes an informed eye to detect their connection to the Gulen movement. Gulen’s followers began to establish their organizations in the US around the time Fethullah Gulen arrived in Pennsylvania. Now fourteen years later, approximately 180 Gulenist Turkish cultural, interfaith dialogue, and business organizations are operating in nearly every state and 135 charter schools are operating in 26 states. While the American public’s taxes support the Gulen movement’s charter schools, its other organizations are financially supported by members. Very specific types of activities are conducted: promote Turkish culture via classes, festivals, etc.; sponsor Turkish language and science competitions (primarily for students attending the Gulen movement’s schools); seek access to public officials, academics, and other influential people and VIPs, usually to offer a gift, an invitation to a special event or honorary dinner, a trip to Turkey, etc.; 4
provide greatly subsidized, guided trips to Turkey to groups (sometimes also awarded to students as contest prizes); engage in interfaith dialogue outreach and activities; host lectures, luncheons and dinners, e.g. “friendship and dialogue” dinners; promote other Gulenist efforts, for instance, by featuring them on their websites (e.g. Ebru TV, Today’s Zaman, Helping Hands Relief Foundation, Turkish Review, “sister” and umbrella organizations, etc.). The movement’s most recent expansion occurred in 2012 into Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in 2012. Turkish cultural centers were established which immediately organized receptions at state capitols and took groups of legislators on guided trips through Turkey. A charter school was attempted in Maine where a new charter school law had just been passed. The Turkic American Alliance (TAA) is the Gulen movement’s national umbrella organization for six regional organizations. It was originally called the “Assembly of Turkic American Federations” (ATAF). ATAF changed its name to TAA soon after its public launch in May 2010. The launch was reported by Hurriyet Daily News, a Turkish newspaper not associated with the Gulen movement, in an article titled “The Gulen movement plays big in Washington.” (9) “Six federations, having close proximity to Mr. Fethullah Gülen, joined to form the Assembly of Turkic American Federations, or ATAF, a non-profit organization... “I had a chance to talk with some of the congressmen and senators who participated at the reception. I asked Ms. Gabrielle Giffords, representative from Arizona’s 8th. District, why she chose to come to a Turkic community gathering, considering that there is a very tiny Turkic community in her district. Gifford turned and pointed out a young Turkish man who was standing next to her. According to the congresswoman, that young Turkish man had visited Gifford's district office several times recently and finally persuaded her to show up for the reception "even though I do not like to go such events," Gifford said, before responding my question and telling me that she never heard of Fethullah Gülen. “The Gülen movement accelerated its activities in US, especially since the leader of the movement, Fethullah Gülen settled in Pennsylvania about a decade ago. During the mid ’90s, after almost three decades in the making, it was still operating very much under the radar in Turkey. “The unexpected and sudden decision to combine all of their 180 organizations under one umbrella assembly was a surprising move, at any rate, for those who follow the Gülen movement closely and are aware about its cautious strategies and steps... “This decision of “combining all Gülen-related Turkic or Turkish associations and federations under one assembly,” was decided by Fethullah Gülen, another active member of the movement who came to the reception from a long distance said...”
TAA Member Organizations Council of Turkic American Associations (CTAA, New York) Mid-Atlantic Federation of Turkic American Associations (MAFTAA, Washington DC) Turkish American Federation of Midwest (TAFM, Chicago) Turkish American Federation of Southeast (TAFS, Atlanta) Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (TCAE, Houston) West American Turkic Council (WATC, Los Angeles)
It is important to note that there are a number of Turkish-American organizations which are not at all affiliated with the Gulen movement, the majority of which were founded before Fethullah Gulen arrived in the US. Because of the highly organized and steady manner in which the Gulen movement has been pressing on its mission, Gulenist-run organizations have surpassed other Turkish-American organizations in number and influence.
“Secular Turks in mainstream Turkish-American organizations and in the Turkish Foreign Service often note that the secular Turkish diaspora is disorganized, fragmented, and inactive by comparison.” – RAND Corporation
Gulen movement organizations in Illinois
As previously stated, the Turkic American Alliance is the Gulen movement’s national umbrella organization for six regional organizations. The Turkish American Federation of Midwest (TAFM) is the regional umbrella organization for local Gulen movement organizations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin. TAFM member organizations in Illinois: Turkish American Society of Chicago (TASC) Niagara Foundation Islamic Society of Chicago Chicago Turkish American Chamber of Commerce (CTACC) Ahiska Turks Cultural Center Science Academy of Chicago (SAC) Kyrgyz American Association Turkmen American Student Organization Turkish American Academics of Midwest
Students of schools operated by Concept Schools participate in activities sponsored by TAFM member organizations.
Concept Schools and the Turkish American Society of Chicago
Whether incorporated into the formal curriculum or offered in a student club, students who attend the Gulen movement’s schools around the world receive Turkish language and cultural instruction. Some students are encouraged to participate in regional annual Turkish language and cultural competitions sponsored by organizations that are also associated with the movement. Winners of those events qualify for the annual International Turkish Olympics (Uluslararası Türkçe Olimpiyatları), an extravagant pageant held in Turkey. This year marks its 11th year. Chicago Math and Science Academy students have participated in such a regional event for the past five years. In 2013, the sponsor was the Turkish American Society of Chicago (TASC), a TAFM member organization which is described on its website as “a subsidiary of Niagara Educational Services.” From a Concept Schools newsletter: Many Concept-managed schools sent contestants to the pre-eliminations of the Intercultural Art and Language Contest in mid-February. They contested to be qualified for the final contest, which will be held in Chicago on March 24, 2013. Contestants sang songs, recited poems in English, Turkish and Spanish, and performed Turkish and Hispanic folk dances. Students from CMSA, IMSA North, IMSA West, GSA, HSA Cincinnati, HSA Dayton Downtown, HSA Dayton High, HSA Columbus High, MMSA, HSA Lorain, and HSA Toledo High are qualified for the final. Folk dance groups from HSA Cleveland, HSA Springfield, HSA Cleveland Middle, HSA Columbus Middle and HSA Toledo are also qualified for the final.* TASC’s webpage for this Gulen movement-sponsored student competition for Concept students features letters of support from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza, and Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan. More details about the Gulen movement’s outreach to these and other public officials to follow.
* IMSA is Indianapolis Math and Science Academy, HSA is Horizon Science Academy, and MMSA is Michigan Math and Science Academy. Non-Turkish performances, a category added in 2011 and classified as “foreign,” make up a distinct minority of all performances. Result archive @ http://turkishlanguage.conceptschools.org/?page_id=19
Image 1: This 2008 article is about a “Turkish song and poetry contest” for students attending schools in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Red-underlined schools are charter schools operated by Concept Schools. The purple-underlined school, Science Academy of Chicago, is a private school opened in 2000 by Niagara Educational Services, the original name of the Niagara Foundation. SAC students are the only non-Concept students who have competed in this event. The competition has been held in Columbus (2008, 2009), Cleveland (2010, 2011), and Chicago (2012, 2013). Recall that Zaman is a Gulen movement-operated news agency. (10)
The case of Quest Charter Academy and Caterpillar ex-CEO Glen Barton
Quest Charter Academy (QCA) in Peoria, Illinois, opened in the fall of 2010. Members of the Peoria community visited the Chicago Math and Science Academy in 2009, looking to use it as their charter school model. QCA was founded by a non-profit called the Peoria Charter School Initiative (PCSI) which contracted with Concept Schools for management. The unusual feature of PCSI in comparison to other school organizations associated with Concept Schools is that no Turkish or Turkic individuals sit on its board. However, QCA has many of the same characteristics as other Gulen charter schools. Two principals, provided by Concept, have both been Turkish men. Local teachers are the majority, but Turkish teachers have been hired for computer, physics, and physical science classes. QCA takes annual Turkey trips. Glen Barton has been the board president of PCSI. He is the retired CEO of Caterpillar Inc. (based in Peoria) and also a member of the Illinois State Charter School Commission, the authorizer that just approved the two new Concept Schools for Chicago. Immediately after the 60 Minutes broadcast in May 2011, (“U.S. charter schools tied to powerful Turkish imam”), a local TV station (WMBD-TV) probed into a possible connection between QCA and the Gulen movement. Both Glen Barton and the school’s principal, a longtime Concept Schools employee, denied any connection. (11) “Principal Engin Blackstone says Quest Charter Academy, in no way, has any connection with controversial Turkish imam, Fethullah Gulen... “Glen Barton, board president of Peoria Charter Schools, says the board conducted an investigation into the allegations, twice. The board of directors feels confident there is no connection between Concept Schools and Gulen.”
Image 2: “Concept SW Superintendent” Engin Blackstone (original name is Engin Karatas) and Glen Barton at a Quest Charter Academy event in November 2012. Photo from QCA website.
Of special note is that Caterpillar, Inc. currently has strong interests in Turkey. From “U.S. Caterpillar firm eyes production line in Turkey.” (World Tribune, September 2012): ANKARA — A U.S. defense firm has been preparing to invest in Turkey. The U.S. company Caterpillar has been discussing opening a production line in Turkey. Caterpillar provides construction and mining equipment to both militaries and the private sector... In a briefing on June 21, [Turkish Industry Minister Nihat Ergun] said he met the president of the U.S. company to discuss massive investment in Turkey. The minister said Caterpillar, which supplies the Israeli and other militaries with bulldozers used in counter-insurgency operations, could invest up to $1 billion in production as well as research and development... When Barton was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame in 2012, Caterpillar’s press release stated, “During his tenure as Chairman and CEO from 1999 to 2004, Barton paved the way for Caterpillar's leadership in the global mining industry with his strategic vision.”
7. The Gulen Movement’s subsidized, guided trips to Turkey
The Gulen movement has given hundreds of subsidized, guided trips to Turkey to groups of Americans over the past decade. Trips are offered to public officials, academics, journalists, religious leaders, and other influential people, as well as to students, parents, and teachers of its charter schools. Chicago Math and Science Academy, Quest Charter Academy, and the Niagara Foundation regularly organize such trips. Itineraries are adjusted according to the type of group. Along with visits to popular tourist and historical destinations are stops at Gulen movement-associated institutions (e.g. Zaman headquarters, Samanyolu TV headquarters, Journalists and Writers Foundation, Fatih University, certain schools, etc.). Another common stop is to meet with local Turkish people who travelers are told are their trip sponsors. Sometimes travelers are taken into the homes of Turkish families, possibly as many as three or four different homes during the course of their trip. It is not known if all the travelers are aware that the individuals with whom they are meeting are members of the Gulen movement who have either contributed money or are volunteering to host visitors as their way to help advance the movement’s goals. It is not known if travelers are fully aware that the interactions their tour guide is facilitating is only with members and businesses associated with a religious subgroup within the whole Turkish population – a subgroup of which large numbers of Turkish people are quite wary. Clearly these sustained, highly affordable and tempting travel experiences are a mechanism by which the Gulen movement can stream its messaging to dependent groups of targeted Americans over an extended period of time. It is as important to consider what the travelers are not told during the course of their trip as it is to consider what they are told.
Illinois public officials, VIPs, and the Gulen movement
The Gulen movement uses its organizations, schools, and students to bring its members into close contact with influential and powerful leaders of Illinois. This section contains some examples of the tactics. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was visited by students from Chicago Math and Science in January 2013. In March 2013 he wrote a letter on behalf of TASC giving his support to its contest for Concept Schools’ students.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has a history of involvement with the Gulen Movement. He was the featured speaker at a Niagara Foundation event in 2007 when he was serving as Lieutenant Governor. In 2008 the Niagara Foundation gave him its “Community Service Award.” In March 2013, Quinn wrote a letter on behalf of TASC giving his support to its contest for Concept Schools’ students.
Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza is a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives. In 2008 she attended the grand opening of the Niagara Foundation’s new office. When Mendoza spoke at a 2011 Niagara Foundation event she stated, “My mother had the wonderful experience of being able to travel to Turkey with us a few years back.”(12). In March 2011 she filed the legislative bill (HR0173) which commended Fethullah Gulen. In February 2012 Mendoza visited CMSA and was interviewed for a promotional video. In March 2013 she wrote a letter on behalf of TASC giving her support to its contest for Concept Schools’ students.
Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan also has a history of involvement with the Gulen Movement. In 2008 he traveled to Turkey with other Illinois lawmakers on a tour “billed as a cultural tour of the nation” and “sponsored by Chicago-based Turkish-American business groups.”(13) A later report indicated that he may have traveled to Turkey again in 2009. It is not known if the trips are linked to a Gulen movement but the term “cultural tour” is suggestive. In May 2011 the Niagara Foundation presented Madigan with a gift at its “Intercultural Reception” for legislators in Springfield. In February 2012, Madigan, his son Andrew, and daughter Nicole, visited CMSA. Each was interviewed for a promotional video. In March 2013 Madigan wrote a letter on behalf of TASC giving his support to its contest for Concept Schools’ students.
Michael Madigan is a leading member of the “Joint Legislative Task Force on Illinois-Turkish Relations.” Although not a legislator, his son, Andrew Madigan, is also a member. The bill that created the task force (HJR0031) was filed by Representative Jack Franks in April 2011. It was sponsored in the Senate by Senator Pamela Althoff who traveled to Turkey in 2008 with Madigan, Senator Bill Brady and Representative Dan Reitz. Franks and State Senator James Meeks traveled to Turkey courtesy of the Niagara Foundation in March 2012. (14) Senator Meeks sent the following message and photo (left) to his Twitter followers (@revjamesmeeks) as his group arrived at Zaman headquarters on March 12: “We are arriving at the news paper for an official meeting” It is not known how many Illinois public officials and VIPs have been on Gulen movement-sponsored and guided Turkey trips. In addition to those previously mentioned, a number of public officials and VIPs visited CMSA during 2011-2012 or 2012-2013, most of whom were recorded for promotion videos. They include:
Alderman Joe Moore Alderman Patrick O’Connor Cook County Clerk David Orr Illinois Deputy Governor Cristal Thomas Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White Illinois State Board of Education Chair Gery Chico Representative Dan Burke Representative Linda Chapa LaVia Representative Kelly Cassidy Representative Toni Berrios US Congressman Daniel Lipinski
Alderman Moore is a known vocal supporter of CMSA. Congressman Lipinski is the recipient of campaign contributions from three individuals associated with CMSA: Concept Schools vice president Salim Ucan ($2,800); Concept Schools CEO Sedat Duman ($500), and CMSA Board Treasurer Edip Pektas ($500). Pektas also holds a position at New Plan Learning, a company formed by the founders of Concept Schools. It acquires real estate, constructs school buildings, and leases facilities to charter schools administered and managed by Concept Schools. (15) The Gulen movement’s Awards The Niagara Foundation has held annual “Peace and Dialogue Awards” ceremonial dinners at least since 2006. It gave its 2009 “Media Award” to the Chicago Tribune. The recipient of its 2012 “Media Award” was Chicago Tribune CEO Tony Hunter. The Tribune’s Senior Vice President/Editor Gerould Kern visited CMSA in April 2012 and was interviewed for a promotional video. 13
Just one week after the Illinois State Charter School Commission approved two new Chicago charter schools to be operated by Concept Schools – and in the midst of public outrage caused by Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Emanuel’s decision to close a massive and nationally unprecedented number of schools – the Chicago Tribune published an editorial urging residents to embrace Concept Schools’ expansion in Chicago. (16) The Niagara Foundation gave its “Education Award” to Arne Duncan in 2007 when he was CEO of Chicago Public Schools. As US Secretary of Education, Duncan was the recipient of another award in 2010, this time from the Rumi Forum, a DC-based organization which names Fethullah Gulen as its “Honorary President.” Senior Advisor Kenneth Bedell accepted the award for Duncan and praised Fethullah Gulen during his speech. (17, 18) The Niagara Foundation gave its 2008 “Education Award” to Northwestern University President Henry Bienen. Bienen is now a member of the Chicago Board of Education. The Niagara Foundation gave Secretary of State Jessie White the “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2010. White has been a featured speaker at a Niagara Foundation event. White’s Capitol Building office was the venue for the Niagara Foundation’s 2012 reception for legislators. He was also recorded for a promotional video by CMSA when he visited the school in February 2012. Chicago Math and Science Academy took its students to the State Capitol to lobby powerful legislators for charter schools (from CMSA’s June 2012 newsletter).
Just one month earlier on March 12th, Representative Chapa LaVia, now Chairperson of the Illinois General Assembly Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, had visited CMSA and was interviewed for a promotional video.(21) 14
Gulen himself lives in the Poconos, a rural tourist hub in northeast Pennsylvania. He inspires his followers from America, making him, among other things, the most powerful figure in the world of American charter schools. – American Foreign Policy Council (19)
Since 1999, the Gulen movement has been aggressively expanding its network of taxpayerfunded charter schools. The US media – the institution most American citizens trust for keeping them well informed – have mostly neglected report the presence and dimensions of this phenomenon. Charter school authorizers have given aid to the Gulen movement by looking the other way. Without public awareness, ongoing open discussion and debate, no consensus can be reached about the Gulen movement’s involvement in so many charter schools being totally benign. The movement’s members and sympathizers may present the movement that way, but a number of examples contradict their claims. The best compilation of those contradictions is in a summary written by Citizens Against Special Interest Lobbying in Public Schools (CASILIPS) which states: “The single most distinguishing feature of the Gulen Movement is the massive effort it devotes to creating a public image of itself that is strikingly at odds with reality...” (20) The American public deserves to know much more about the Gulen movement and its leader who has been called “the most powerful figure in the world of American charter schools.” This paper provides an opportunity for Chicago residents to inform themselves about the Gulen movement, and possibly help them with bringing some of the issues into the light.
Sharon Higgins March 30, 2013 email@example.com
1. Portland Press Herald (ME), “Proposed Bangor charter school linked to Turkish imam.” 2/17/2013, http://www.pressherald.com/news/proposed-charter-school-linked-to-turkish-imam_2013-02-17.html 2. Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst, “Gulen Movement: Turkey’s Third Power.” 2/1/2009, http://tool.donation-net.net/Images/Email/1097/Gulen_movement.pdf 3. RAND National Defense Research Institute, “The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey.” 2008, http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG726.pdf 4. The New Republic, "The Global Imam." 11/10/2010, http://www.tnr.com/article/world/magazine/79062/global-turkey-imam-fethullah-gulen?page=0,0). 5. Global Politician, “The Fethullah Gulen movement.” 12/31/2008, http://www.globalpolitician.com/25355-fethullah-gulen-turkey) 6. Transitions Online (CZ), “In Albania, Madrasas Even the Secular Love.” 10/19/2012, http://www.tol.org/client/article/23425-albania-islam-turkey-education.html) 7. CBS 60 Minutes, "US charter schools tied to powerful Turkish imam." 5/13/2012, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57433131/u.s-charter-schools-tied-to-powerful-turkishimam/?tag=contentMain;cbsCarousel). 8. Portland Press Herald (ME), “Proposed Bangor charter school linked to Turkish imam.” 2/17/2013, http://www.pressherald.com/news/proposed-charter-school-linked-to-turkish-imam_2013-02-17.html 9. Hurriyet Daily News (TR), “The Gulen movement plays big in Washington.” 5/14/2010, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=the-gulen-movement-plays-big-inwashington-2010-05-14. 10. Zaman Amerika (TR), “Amerikalılar, Columbus'ta yapılan Türkçe yarışması ile coştu.” 4/14/2008, http://us.zaman.com.tr/us-tr/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=22738 11. WMBD-TV (Peoria, IL), ‘Quest Academy Principal Denies Connection to Turkish Imam.” 5/14/2011, http://centralillinoisproud.com/fulltext/?nxd_id=245962 12. User niagarafoundation, “Hon. Susana Mendoza, Clerk, City of Chicago, Niagara Morning Conversations.” 11/21/2011, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w6RYL1AMtI (@ 01:22 min.) 13. The Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL). “Illinois lawmakers on trip to Turkey.” 6/23/2008, http://www.pantagraph.com/news/illinois-lawmakers-on-trip-to-turkey/article_46e8ca5d-51eb-5bc3-a7fc78b0b2297d74.html 14. Blog entry by Civic Leadership Program intern Joseph Ruttenberg, “Turkey Trip!” 3/21/2012, http://clp2013.blogspot.com/2012/03/turkey-trip.html 15. Business Wire, “Fitch Downgrades New Plan Learning Inc. Project (OH) to 'BB-'” 3/8/2013, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130308005938/en/Fitch-Downgrades-Plan-LearningProject-BB16. Chicago Tribune (IL), “1,500 kids.” 3/27/2013, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-0327/news/ct-edit-charter-0327-jm-20130327_1_charter-expansion-charter-school-cps-officials 17. User niagarafoundation, “Niagara Peace & Dialogue Awards 2007 Ebru News.” Uploaded 2/8/2011, @ 1:20 min., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZj2VgEvpb4 18. User RumiForum, “The Honorable Arne Duncan - 2010 RUMI Peace and Dialogue Awards - Rumi Forum.” Uploaded 11/26/2010, @ 2:00 min., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOjne7Wp2EE&feature=player_embedded 19. American Foreign Policy Council, World Almanac of Islamism, “Fethullah Gulen Movement.” Last updated 3/12/2013, http://almanac.afpc.org/fetullah-g%C3%BClen-movement# 20. CASILIPS, “Image vs. Reality.” 11/12/2012, http://turkishinvitations.weebly.com/image-vsreality.html 21. CMSA interviews of public official and VIPs YouTube user CMSA7212 @ http://www.youtube.com/user/CMSA7212/videos?view=0&flow=grid YouTube user cmsavip @ http://www.youtube.com/user/cmsavip/videos?flow=grid&view=0 YouTube user Mycmsa @ http://www.youtube.com/user/Mycmsa/videos?view=0&flow=grid
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