|Triad School for Excellence (NC) and other East Coast Gulen charter Schools compete in the Washington DC Turkish Olympiad|
This same photo is found on Fethullah Gulen's web site AND the Gulen Charter School-Triad School for Excellence
The participants were the mid Atlantic areas. The school's web sites all mention that they participated in this Turkish Olympiad.
The network of publicly-funded Gulen charter schools in the United States, now estimated as numbering well over a hundred, serves the Gulen Movement's economic, political and ideological goals in several ways. This is possible because the key school administration officials and board members, the ones ultimately in control of the schools and their finances, are all Gulenists.
In the United States, examination of federal tax forms as well as school documents has shown that the Gulen charter schools tend to purchase goods and services from Gulenist businesses. One example is construction work for the Gulen charter schools (Harmony schools) run by the Cosmos Foundation in Texas. Millions of dollars in contracts were awarded to Atlas Construction and Ege Construction, both of which are based in Turkey; the CEO for the U.S. branch of Atlas (Atlas Texas Construction and Trading, Inc.) is Yunus Dogan, a Gulenist who also serves on the advisory board of ISWEEEP. Another example is the Gulen charter schools' use of a series of textbooks for Turkish classes that are sold exclusively in the U.S. by Antstores, a Gulenist business in New Jersey. Thus, while several researchers of Gulen schools have noted that Gulenist businessmen may offer financial help in the startup phase, it is likely that they receive a return once the schools are established, not only in the form of direct business custom, but also because the schools help advertise the businesses by appearing on their lists of highly satisfied customers.
Gulen charter schools also transfer money to Gulenist non-profit corporations for various services. Examples include Concept Schools and the Accord Institute for Educational Research. Concept Schools currently manages 19 charter schools in the Midwest, and receives 10% of their revenue as management fees. The Accord Institute, based on a recent article appearing in an Arizona newspaper, gets $160 per student from its member schools. While these non-profits have to file annual IRS Form 990s showing their total revenue and itemizing their expenses to some extent, generally no further reporting is required. Money could potentially be transferred from these non-profits to other Gulenist organizations (and perhaps ultimately to Fethullah Gulen's inner circle) and reported in such a way as to not arouse suspicion. This is especially so since the accounting books are entirely under the control of Gulenists. (Note: Gulenists have demonstrated an acute interest in the IRS auditing process. On March 13, 2010, Mutlu Uzgoren, who works for the IRS Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud Division, gave a seminar at the California Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce, a Gulenist organization. The topic was the IRS and audit tips, and the CATA Chamber website says that Uzgoren "shared a lot of valuable information" and that the program received "great interest." It is worthwhile contemplating why Gulenist businessmen might have such a "great interest" in listening to tips from someone knowledgeable about anti-money laundering and fraud.)
The schools also provide an effective forum for soliciting donations for Gulenist organizations. Following on the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, some schools asked for contributions destined for the Helping Hands Relief Foundation, a Gulenist charity. For example, students at the Buffalo Academy of Science students held a bake sale that raised $1000.20 for Helping Hands. Other schools have asked parents to donate to ISWEEEP. In an interesting variation on this, in April 2009, Dove Science Academy asked every family to give $30 towards improving the school playground and ISWEEEP. The contribution to ISWEEEP was said to be very important to show "appreciation" to the Cosmos Foundation for the $800,000 they were said to have contributed towards starting Dove.
Another way in which the U.S. charter schools serve the Gulen Movement is by functioning as visa factories. An April, 2010 article in an Arizona newspaper quoted University of Utah professor Hakan Yavuz as saying that the schools are the main avenue for building the Turkish community in the United States. It would have been more accurate to refer to the Gulenist community rather than the Turkish community, since the schools never sponsor visas for secular Turks or any Turks or Central Asians who are not followers of Fethullah Gulen. Because of this bias in hiring, secular Turks and other Turks who oppose Gulen have hardly any voice in the United States, even though they constitute a substantial fraction of the Turkish population. A Deseret News article from June 1, 2010 stated that Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a Gulen charter school in Utah, spent $53,000 in immigration fees over a 5-year period.
The Charter School Watchdog website has documented internal school emails as evidence of its contention that the schools provide contributions to the Gulen Movement through a system where Gulenists are employed at inflated salaries and then required to return a large portion of their earnings to a Gulenist business manager. The Watchdog website provides a copy of what it states is a document outlining how the amount of money to be returned is calculated. An examination of the 253 H-1B visa applications filed by the Cosmos Foundation (which runs the Harmony Gulen charter schools in Texas) for 2008 shows that the wage rate is in many cases substantially higher than the Department of Labor-determined prevailing wage. Summing the total excess annual wages (offered annual salary minus prevailing annual salary) for all these visas together gives an amount of $842,391. This illustrates that inflated wages indeed have the potential to be a significant source of revenue.
Gulenist administrators at the charter schools are constantly inviting government officials to school events, and their positions at the schools give them an advantage in seeking opportunities to meet with such officials. This is aimed not only at legitimizing the Movement, but also at increasing its political clout.
Finally, it should be noted that the U.S. Gulen charter schools serve the Gulen Movement's ideological and strategic goals by indoctrinating students in the Turkish language and culture. At many of the schools, Turkish classes are mandatory in some grades. The schools keep the options for foreign language besides Turkish very limited. In some areas many students already know Spanish and may choose Turkish only because it is the sole alternative foreign language option. Many after-school clubs have Turkish cultural themes - Turkish dancing, Turkish cooking, Turkish water-marbling art, and so forth. Some schools field trips take students to other Gulen schools or Gulenist organizations. Students are encouraged to attend Gulenist events such as the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival in California and the Turkish Language Olympics. Some select U.S. students go to Gulen schools in Turkey for summer programs, and in at least one documented case, school academic credit is offered for a summer study program that includes Turkish language instruction as well as a trip to Turkey. Gulenist "Turkey trips," provided at discounted prices to the schools' students, parents and even staff members, and advertised through the schools, give the Movement a chance to promote itself by showcasing its works in Turkey as well as by ensuring that the travelers socialize only with Gulenists. In some schools, subsidies for these trips are offered to students as a reward for academic performance. On these trips, American students are encouraged to befriend Turkish students studying at Gulen schools. All these activities aim at the generation of future American sympathizers for the Movement.