They have quite a few politicians supporting them and the money to buy people in the short term. But what will happen in the long term? Their new schools are slowing down to a trickle, their h1-b Visas are almost non-existant, the money is drying up, Americans are educating each other about the TRUE agenda of the schools that STILL deny affiliation with the Gulen Movement even after proof without a doubt.
|Loudoun County School board member at last discussion which turned heated. Americans stand up for your rights, your children, your tax money. Make the Gulenists admitt they are part of the group and have an agenda for our children other than education.|
Concerns about Loudoun's proposed math and IT charter school's connections to a modern Islam movement came to a roar in recent days as the applicants behind the school hosted their first community outreach meeting.
Their opposition stems from reports in several news columns, including The Washington Post's “The Answer Sheet,” which have alleged that the Chesapeake Science Point, the Anne Arundel County, MD, school that the Loudoun Math and IT Academy charter application has been modeled after, has ties to Turkish clerk and modern Islam leader Fethullah Gulen. The reports have raised up a group of Loudoun residents who have offered warnings about similar ties to the Loudoun charter school applicants at every School Board meeting since August, and their comments dominated a two-hour community outreach meeting on the school last Thursday.
Access Point Public Affairs’ Mindy Williams, who serves as the spokeswoman for the charter school applicants, started her talk just as she has every other presentation about the school for more than a year: “This charter came about because of a group of Loudoun County parents, many like you in the room, after they looked at what they wanted for their children…These parents, while they were raising their children and doing their day job, took it upon themselves to look at other charter schools as a model to start one here in Loudoun.”
After highlighting the vision of a sixth- through 12th-grade academy that would offer an alternative for Loudoun’s students, Williams, standing with School Board Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Janet Clarke, was hammered with questions
“Will you present the public with all of the information you’ve received about this school’s connections?” Jo-Ann Chase, Loudoun resident and former candidate for the House of Delegates, asked.
Her question was followed by several from about a dozen others peppered throughout the small audience in the Creighton’s Corner Elementary School gym, challenging every aspect of the proposed charter school. They asked whether the initial proposal work is being funded by Gulen, why they are considering offering students Turkish as one of the language courses and will the school hire teachers from within Loudoun County, referring to concerns that Chesapeake Science Point’s teachers are brought in from Turkey.
At one point Ali Gokce, one of the parents behind the charter application, stood to say he’s a mechanical engineer who’s lived in Loudoun since 2005, and he simply wants a more rigorous education for his two children. “We started with a small group of parents and it grew from there. I think all these rumors are stereotyping, basically.”
Williams told the group she only first heard of the Gulen charter school movement when she received an email about it a couple of months ago from Chase. “We’re not getting any money from any outside source,” Williams insisted, adding that she has done much of the public relations work pro bono. “I’m just a mom, and I believe in school choice and I believe in these people.”
As the questions turned into allegations, Clarke asked the group, “Do you believe there are charter schools in the United States that are not connected to the Gulen movement?”
“Yes,” most in the room answered in unison.
“I do think it’s very important that we’re absolutely sure there is no connection,” Clarke continued, “but in all fairness, we can’t draw that connection when we don’t know quite yet.”
Turgeon assured the group that the School Board would not only vet the charter application thoroughly, but continue to oversee the operation of the school if it is approved. The application is under review by Loudoun County Public Schools’ senior staff members, who will present their comments to the School Board Oct. 23. The application will then be reviewed by a committee, which is chaired by Jeff Morse (Dulles), and includes Turgeon and Brenda Sheridan (Sterling).
“I hope you have the confidence in us that we’ll look at every aspect of this application,” she said, adding that while it is too early in the process to know whether she will support the Loudoun Math and IT Academy, she and most of the other nine School Board members have expressed their support for charter schools and other public school options within Loudoun. “Loudoun County does have an excellent education system with excellent teachers…but I am adamantly against a one-size-fits-all school system.”
The same individuals attending last Thursday’s community outreach meeting also listed their concerns at the Sept. 25 School Board meeting. Rachel Sargent pointed out that Ali Bicak is one of the founding members of Chesapeake Science Point and that Fatih Kandil, listed as an applicant for the Loudoun charter school, is a former principal of Chesapeake Science Point and was the director of the Horizon Science Academy in Ohio, which has also been accused of ties with Gulen.
“There’s a trend here I’m hoping you see,” Sargent said.
The charter application doesn’t hide the fact that both Bicak and Kandil’s have experience at the Maryland charter school, and lists Kandil as a South Riding resident with two children in Loudoun’s public schools.
School Board member Bill Fox (Leesburg) responded to Sargent’s and the others’ comments from the dais Sept. 25 saying that while he would look into concerns from those opposed to the Loudoun Math and IT Academy, he would not give weight to comments such as the fact that several of the applicants are Turkish.
“I don’t think we should be in the business of discriminating against an organization based on racial makeup, or saying that if there’s a strong Turkish influence that there will be some unconstitutional influence of religion anymore than saying because our curriculum committee has two people who graduated from BYU [Brigham Young University] there is any religious influence over our curriculum,” he said.
Williams said she doesn’t believe the small group opposing the charter school in Loudoun accurately represents the community’s interest. “We have received a lot of feedback from people who are excited about the possibility of a math and IT charter school.”
Loudoun Math and IT Academy's next community meeting is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Dulles South Multipurpose Center, 24950 Riding Center Drive, in South Riding.