Gulen's American Empire

Gulen's American Empire
Gulen Empire map from Turkish Newspaper. DISCLAIMER: If you find some videos are disabled this is the work of the Gulen censorship who have filed fake copyright infringement reports to UTUBE

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gulenist application to open school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Gulen's backyard) to fail SIGN PETITION

Proposed Gulenist operated school in Imam Fethullah Mohammed's backyard (Pennsylvania) to FAIL.
Fight breaks out, and 3 prior attempts to open school stopped.  Petition started on line to stop the Gulen Movement in the USA.


 


There is currently an application before the Board of School Directors for the School District of Lancaster for a new charter school: the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School (ABECS). The ABECS proposal offers an alternative education for kindergarten through fourth grade students in the District. This application is a second attempt by Mr. Sait Onal and others to establish a charter school in the School District of Lancaster. The first application, for the Lancaster Science Academy, was rejected by the school board in 2008. The hearing for the current application is Tuesday, February 19, and any interested community members are strongly encouraged to attend.

After reviewing the application for the proposed Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School, it appears that the proposed curriculum is poorly-designed and that the Academy administrators offer no clear means for the proposed school to achieve AYP as promised.

Additionally, their base of community supporters includes numerous instances of cronyism and overstatement. For example:

>A letter of support from Lutheran Refugee Services is being withdrawn. The original letter of support was issued and signed by the lead applicant's wife, Selma Onal.

> A letter of support from Economics Pennsylvania is being withdrawn

> A letter of support from Free Enterprise, Inc. is being withdrawn.

> A letter of support from Harrisburg Community College is being withdrawn "based on the ongoing public scrutiny and concerns regarding allegations of the organization"

> A letter of support from MUDI Farm Export is signed by the applicant, Sait Onal

> A letter of support from Transamerica is issued from the agency office managed by Sait Onal and is signed by an individual who is presumably Mr. Onal's subordinate.

> Additional letters of support come from Godiva Chocolate in Reading and Etimine USA in Pittsburgh. These letters promise the opportunity for "job shadow days" and "summer internships" at their respective locations for the charter school's kindergarten through fourth grade students.

> One Community Board Member, Laura Binkley, is listed as an employee of Huntington Learning Center in Lancaster. Huntington Learning Center no longer operates in Lancaster.

> One former Community Advisory Board member, when told she was listed as such on their website, responded by saying, "I'm on their website?" She subsequently advised them that she was not to be considered a member of their Community Advisory Board and ensured that her name was removed from their site.

These aspects of their application speak to our larger concern regarding the applicants' lack of transparency and honesty.

Furthermore, there is an absence of truly local community support. Of the fifteen individuals comprising their Founding Board and Advisory Board, we believe that half or more of these individuals live outside of the School District of Lancaster.

Moreover, we do not believe that this charter school application serves an otherwise unmet need in the School District of Lancaster. There is little about their curriculum that is innovative, the concerns about their ability to deliver quality education are significant, and the applicants' true motives appear questionable. We have great concern about exposing any students, especially K-4 students, to the risk of five years of substandard education.

We urge the Board of School Directors for the School District of Lancaster to reject the application for the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School.

To:
Board of School Directors, School District of Lancaster

We believe that the curriculum for the proposed Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School is poorly-designed and that the Academy administrators offer no clear means for the proposed school to achieve AYP as promised.

We do not believe that this charter school application serves an otherwise unmet need in the School District of Lancaster. There is little about their curriculum that...

We believe that the curriculum for the proposed Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School is poorly-designed and that the Academy administrators offer no clear means for the proposed school to achieve AYP as promised.

We do not believe that this charter school application serves an otherwise unmet need in the School District of Lancaster. There is little about their curriculum that is innovative, the concerns about their ability to deliver quality education are significant, and the applicants' true motives appear questionable. We have great concern about exposing any students, especially K-4 students, to the risk of five years of substandard education.

We urge you to oppose the Academy of Business and Entrepreneurship Charter School application.

Sincerely,
[Your name]



The Academy of Business & Entrepreneurship Charter School would be an attractive alternative to conventional schools, giving students the financial background and business smarts they need to succeed in a "technology-driven, globally connected" world, backers said.

Opponents attacked the caliber of the school's curriculum, saying it offers nothing new and would be inappropriate for children as young as 5 years old. They also raised concerns the school may be affiliated with a network of U.S. charter schools linked in published reports to a Turkish Muslim movement.

Read more:
http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/803790_School-District-of-Lancaster-eyes-charter-school.html#ixzz2ICQKgMhG

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Fight breaks out at Lancaster School board meeting police called!!!





http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/817232_Police-called-to-wild-school-board-hearing-on-charter-school-proposal.html

When Onal tried to respond, McGrann told him not to interrupt.

"What are you gonna do?" Onal said.

"Don't interrupt," McGrann replied.

"What are you gonna do?" Onal said, his voice rising. "How can he talk to me like this? How can he turn and talk to me like this?"

SDL solicitor Robert Frankhouser admonished Onal and ordered him to sit down.

"I apologize. I'm gonna leave right now," Onal said, walking out of the cafeteria.

A moment later he returned.

"You do yourself a disservice and a disservice to your organization," Frankhouser told Onal. "I understand you're passionate about your application, but to be this disrespectful to this board is outrageous."

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/817232_Police-called-to-wild-school-board-hearing-on-charter-school-proposal.html#ixzz2LUs3h7js

 

Maine rejects, Gulen operated Charter School Application

Despite support from state legislature who also had a FREE trip to Turkey, Gulenist operated charter schools in the USA rejected again.  Sorry, America doesn't want you.



But Maine's commission rejected the Bangor plan over financial issues, its chairwoman says.

By Colin Woodard cwoodard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

A proposed charter school to be based in Bangor is tied into an informal worldwide network of religious, cultural and education institutions operated by followers of a controversial and reclusive Turkish imam, Fethullah Gulen.

The Queen City Academy Charter School was one of four proposed taxpayer-financed charter schools whose applications were denied last month by the state charter school commission, but the school intends to reapply at a future date.

Followers of Gulen, who lives in exile on a secluded compound in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, have been involved in starting at least 120 charter schools in 26 states, according to investigations by The New York Times, "60 Minutes," USA Today and other news organizations. Their schools are often top performers and have an entirely secular curriculum, but they have drawn criticism for their lack of transparency, their hiring and financial practices, and concerns about their ultimate motivation, which experts say has as much to do with shaping the evolution of Turkey as it does with educating young Americans.

Gulen is an intriguing figure, a voice for moderate Islam, an opponent of terrorism and a champion of the impressive cultural, educational and scientific legacy of the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed in the aftermath of World War I and spawned the modern states of Turkey, the Balkans and much of Central Asia and the Middle East.

But his sprawling worldwide network of followers is also the subject of concern within the U.S. diplomatic community; a feared and powerful force in Turkey; and the target of investigations into the possible abuse of U.S. visa programs and the taxpayer money that flows into the charter schools they have founded. The movement's charter schools have been criticized in other states for their founders' evasiveness about the philosophical and institutional links they have to what is known in Turkey as Gulenism.

"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 they shouldn't be open about it."

LINKED INTO THE MOVEMENT

The central figure behind the proposed Bangor charter school, construction company owner Murat Kilic of Revere, Mass., deflects questions about ties to Gulen as unimportant.

"Individuals might be inspired by him, but what their background is and what they are inspired by, I think that's a little bit irrelevant," said Kilic, who helped found several Gulen-linked organizations in the Bay State. "Yes, I have read a few books of Mr. Gulen and met with him two times, but I have also met (former President) Clinton. At the end of the day, it's how the board carries forth the mission of the charter school that's important."

Over the past year, Gulen's followers have been active in Maine on several fronts. A key organization in the Gulen network -- the New York-based Council of Turkic American Associations -- organized a subsidized nine-day trip to Turkey for three state legislators last summer and persuaded Gov. Paul LePage to issue an executive order declaring April 3, 2012, to be the first annual Turkish Cultural Day in Maine.

State Sen. Joseph Brannigan, D-Portland, state Rep. Dennis Keschl, R-Belgrade, and their spouses took the subsidized trip, along with state Rep. Jane Knapp, R-Gorham, and Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the NAACP's Portland branch, according to Keschl, who said CTAA officials were up front about their ties to Gulen when he questioned them directly.

CTAA -- which is active in Maine as the Turkish Cultural Center of Maine -- is the regional affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based Turkic American Alliance, the umbrella organization for the Gulen movement in the United States.

Its membership has included charter schools, including the Pioneer Academy Charter School in Everett, Mass., on which the proposed Queen City Academy in Bangor is explicitly modeled.

Kilic, the lead author of the Bangor school's application, helped found Pioneer Academy and two other Gulen organizations, the Boston Dialogue Foundation and Ace It, which operates as the Turkish Cultural Center in Boston, according to federal tax filings. The proposed school's board secretary Alper Kiziltas, a doctoral student at the University of Maine, is Maine outreach coordinator for CTAA.

Another Queen City board member, Patricia Perane of Hanover, Mass., serves on the Pioneer school's board.

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. He noted the ongoing ascent of a center-right in that country, which is "pro-capitalist, democratic, socially conservative and believes a revival of faith is good for national development."

"It's unfortunate that we have this rise of Islamophobia because it takes people's eyes off the ball for a legitimate critique that has to do with teachers' concerns about suspect hiring practices or school boards' concerns about suspect financial dealings and governance issues," Hendrick said. "The real questions are: 'Where do you buy your desks and chairs? Who supplies your books? How are people hired and promoted?' ... It has nothing to do with stealth jihad."

'A CULTURE OF STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY'

One of the main criticisms of the Gulen movement is its lack of transparency, but outside of the public spotlight, followers can be quite open about their inspiration and philosophical mission.

Take Keschl's experience. The Maine legislator said all of his colleagues received an invitation from CTAA's New England regional coordinator, Eyup Sener, to take part in the subsidized trip, with participants responsible for less than half the $3,300 estimated per-person cost. The invitation made no mention of Gulen, but participants were to visit numerous Gulen-affiliated institutions in Turkey, including the Zaman newspaper, Fetih University, the Kimse Yok Mu anti-poverty organization and several Turkish charter schools run by his followers.

While considering the invitation, Keschl, who has a military intelligence background and was posted in southern Turkey in the late 1990s, did some research himself on receiving the invitation and quizzed his would-be hosts on what seemed to be an obvious connection to the Gulen movement.

"When we began exchanging emails about the issue, that all came out," Keschl said. "Gulen is the initiator of this and his belief in education and cultural exchange stems way back. They were very up front about that. They didn't say (in their invitation), 'Oh, and Gulen is the reason we're doing it,' but when we started looking into the possibility, they didn't try to hide it."

Keschl, like Martin in Texas, said he went to Turkey with open eyes, and was impressed with what the movement had accomplished in Turkey. He later submitted a letter of support for the Queen City Academy Charter School and said it would likely do a good job educating children.

But followers are not always as up front.

In a written statement, Sener, CTAA's regional coordinator, said his organization has "no relationship" with the Queen City Academy, the Pioneer school or "any other charter school."

No schools are currently listed as CTAA members on the organization's website, but an examination of older images of the Turkic American Alliance website captured by the Internet Archive in 2011 lists three Northeastern private schools as CTAA members: Connecticut's Putnam Science Academy, the Pioneer Academy of Science in New Jersey and the Amity school in Brooklyn. It also included an organization of which Queen City's Kilic was founding president: the Turkish Cultural Center in Boston.

Asked about the nature of the council's relationship to Gulen, Sener wrote: "Some of the board members and founders may or may not be inspired by his teachings. I can't measure all the people's inspirations."

Hendrick said Gulen's network has developed "a culture of strategic ambiguity" wherein it avoids answering direct questions about how its component parts relate to one another.

"If they can maintain ambiguity and leave people never really able to pinpoint who is what, it allows them flexibility to adapt and adjust to local conditions," Hendrick said. This evasiveness served Gulenists well during the 1970s and 1980s in Turkey, he said, where they were among the many targets of the country's surveillance apparatus. "The organizational strategies of the movement are the product of an environment where secrecy and non-transparency are not only perfectly rational and understandable but a neccessity."

Nonetheless, Jana LaPoint, chairwoman of the charter commission, said her group quickly became aware of the applicants' connections to Gulen and that it did some research into the imam and his network. Ultimately, however, the decision to reject the school's application last month had nothing to do with the ties to Gulen, because "the effect on education would have been speculative," she said. "For us it was the financials that were really very, very off," she said, noting that the school assumed it would receive a federal grant it had yet to apply for.

"We were absolutely aware of the ties," she said, "and we looked into Gulen as best we could."

Kilic said they planned to resubmit their application.

A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE

Born in Turkey sometime between 1938 and 1942, Gulen has been living in the United States since 1999, when he faced charges that he was plotting to overthrow the Turkish state. Although he was acquitted of all charges in 2006, he has continued to live in Pennsylvania, and has permanent resident status here.

He continues to exercise considerable influence in Turkey. Last April, The New York Times reported from Istanbul that his followers had "provided indispensable support to the conservative, Islam-inspired government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan" and were thought to be proliferating within the country's police and judiciary. "A culture of fear surrounding the so-called Gulenists, however exaggerated, is so pronounced that few here will talk openly about them on the telephone fearing that their conversations are being recorded and that there will be reprisals."

In recent years, Gulen's activities in the United States prompted concern among consular officers at U.S. diplomatic posts in Ankara and Istanbul, as large numbers of visa applicants appeared "seeking to visit a number of charter schools in the U.S. with which consular officials were unfamiliar," according to a leaked May 2006 cable sent by the Istanbul consulate and published by Wikileaks.

After further investigation and thousands of interviews, the confidential cable stated, consular officials "complied a substantial list of organizations that seem in some way affiliated with Gulen" including "over thirty science academies (set up as charter schools) in the U.S." and 22 educational consultancies and foundations in the U.S..

Visa applicants the consular staff believed to be affiliated with Gulen's movement were "generally evasive about the purpose of their travel to the United States and usually denying knowing or wanting to visit Gulen when questioned directly" though many later reversed themselves on the latter point after "very direct questioning."

Most were unable to provide a straightforward answer as to the source of their travel funds. "While on the surface a benign humanitarian movement," the cable said, "the ubiquitous evasiveness of Gulen-ist applicants -- coupled with what appears to be a deliberate management of applicant profiles over several years -- leaves Consular officers uneasy, an uneasiness echoed within Turkey by those familiar with the Gulen-ists."

More recently, Gulen-linked charter schools in other states have been the subject of media attention.

A New York Times investigation in June 2011 estimated Gulen followers had helped start 120 charter schools in 25 states, and raised "questions about whether, ultimately (its Texas charter schools) are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement -- by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture."

In 2012, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the FBI and the U.S. departments of Labor and Education were investigating Philadelphia's Truebright Science Academy over "whether some Turkish charter school employees are required to kick back part of their salaries to a Muslim movement founded by Gulen" and possible abuse of the H1-B visa program, "which has allowed hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators and other staffers to work in charter schools."

Hendrick said the movement first got involved in education by opening private schools abroad and has gotten into trouble by applying the same hiring and contracting policies it used in its private operations to charter schools, where taxpayer funding brings increased public scrutiny. For instance, the practice of recruiting teachers from Turkey has drawn fire because the average H1-B visa costs between $600 and $1,500 to sponsor, a difficult expense to justify to taxpayers.

"Over the past several years, if you look at a list of the top 10 school systems in the country in terms of applying for foreign worker visas, the majority are Gulen schools," he said. "If you do the math, this is a significant portion of their operating budget."

A 'HOPEFUL ASPECT OF ISLAM'

Martin of Rice University said the Gulen movement is a constructive force, and not just for Texas education.

"I'm in dialogue with them because I think there's a really good chance that they represent the most hopeful aspect of Islam in the world, and on the chance that that's the case, I want to encourage that," he said.

Keschl said his experiences with the Gulen-sponsored cultural trip to Turkey also boosted his confidence in the good intentions of the cleric's followers in Maine.

"You can come up with all sorts of conspiracies all over the place if you want to, but in my view there is certainly all sorts of political things bouncing back and forth between those who oppose Gulen and those who don't," Keschl said. "I appreciated the ideals that were expressed to me in setting up the charter schools and I agree that education is very important for both industrial development and good government. ... I felt them to be very open and honest and wanting to strengthen ties, both cultural and economic, to the U.S.

"Maybe I'm naive, but I don't think I can easily have the wool pulled over my eyes," he said.

Staff Writer Colin Woodard can be contacted at 791-6317 or at:

cwoodard@pressherald.com

This story was updated at 5:10 p.m. Feb. 19 to correctly identify the Gulen-linked schools listed on an archived website.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Loudoun County School board rejects Gulen Charter application

Supporters of the proposed Gulen operated charter school showed up with these pathetic signs, a lame attempt to get a school approved which had no comprehensive curriculum and obvious ties to the Gulen Cult.  Average Americans showed up to these meetings, some ex-FBI and other homeland security top officials to protest the opening. 
AMERICA WINS!!!!



 

School Board Rejects Charter School Application

Danielle Nadler | Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:30 am

Loudoun County will have to wait for a charter school.

After six months of public hearings, work sessions and heated debates, the School Board denied an application for the Loudoun Math & IT Academy public charter school at its meeting Tuesday.

Board members cited a long list of shortfalls in the proposal for the charter school, including curriculum inadequacies, a poorly thought out transportation plan, a governing board lacking educators and a budget that assumed hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants.

“As much as I wanted to support this effort, I can’t support this application,” School Board member Jeff Morse (Dulles) said. “It is lacking.”

Bill Fox (Leesburg) was the only board member to vote against the motion to deny the application. He suggested suspending the decision to give the applicants six more months to improve their proposal; however, his amendment died for lack of a second.

“I believe that the application can be fixed,” Fox said. “Not that it necessarily would be fixed if we granted it another six months, but it certainly could be fixed. It’s within the realm of possibility.”

But even he called the application, “problematic, at best.”

The application, led by Loudoun County parents Ali Gokce and Fatih Kandil, aimed to open a sixth- through 12th grade public charter school for 575 students with a focus on math and technology.

Of all of the inadequacies School Board members listed, a lack of community support was repeated most.

Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) pointed to the applicants’ less than stellar instructional plan that still remains unclear. But, she added, even if the proposed school’s curriculum was “air tight,” she would still not support the application because few parents, educators or students have backed it.

“A strong public support of a charter is imperative,” Turgeon said. “We as a system do not assign students to these schools—families have to choose to go to these schools.”

The proposal for the Loudoun Math & IT Academy was modeled after Chesapeake Science Point, a charter school both Gokce and Kandil helped open in Anne Arundel, MD. But as Gokce and Kandil repeatedly pointed to Chesapeake Science Point as an example Loudoun could follow throughout the past several months, flaws came to light about the school’s financial inadequacies and problems with its special education program.

“I think the biggest problem I had is CSP has been open for six or seven years now, and I would think that the curriculum would be completely nailed down by now, and it’s not,” Morse said. “And that to me speaks to the whole governing body, and that is the model school for this school.”

DROP CAPThe early stages of the review process for the Loudoun Math & IT Academy looked promising. The application was first made public last April, just as education and business leaders gathered for a rare pro-charter school forum in Ashburn. The event did not endorse a specific charter application, but advocated public charter schools as a means to offer Loudoun families more educational choice.

Around that same time, School Board members were bussed to Anne Arundel County’s Chesapeake Science Point to get a visual for what could be possible in Loudoun. At the dais Tuesday, Morse mentioned that trip, saying, “I can’t tell you the enthusiasm I felt when we started this process.”

Also last spring, letters of support poured in for the proposed Loudoun Math & IT Academy. Almost every state legislator representing Loudoun County, as well as several Loudoun County supervisors and a handful of business leaders, penned letters. And in June, the Virginia Board of Education approved the charter application just as the then-newly elected School Board members pushed through a new vetting policy for charter applications that is more charter school-friendly than the previous board’s policy.

However, as the application came to the local level, and school leaders thumbed through the 100-page document, they continually cited a lack of detail in the applicants’ instruction, financial and staffing plans. The school system senior staff told the School Board last fall the application was incomplete, and in December, the Charter School Select Committee, made up of three School Board members, recommended the full board deny the charter application.

“The application appears to say whatever the committee wants to hear, but not with any detail,” Morse said in December. “Are we willing to place our children in the precise environment detailed in the LMITA application with the leadership and management proposed? To this, I vote no.”

DROP CAP Amid the talks of the charter school’s hiring practices or how many buses it could provide was a community debate over the applicants’ credentials.

Since the applicants first pitched their idea for a public charter school with technology-heavy curriculum, a vocal group of about two dozen rose up to deter their efforts. The group, led by Jo-Ann Chase, Loudoun resident and former candidate for the House of Delegates, voiced concerns to School Board members almost every time the board microphone was open. Opponents claim the applicants have ties to a movement of Turkish Muslims opening a string of charter schools across the nation, under the direction of modern Islam leader Fethullah Gulen.

In that vein, Ashburn resident David Soloman during Tuesday’s public input session warned School Board members that today the nation’s enemies do not wear uniforms, but become a part of the society.

“When I served in the military I took an oath to protect our country from enemies both abroad and domestic,” Soloman said. “We have domestic enemies right here.”

At the School Board’s final work session on the application last week, Kandil addressed the allegations, saying he and his fellow applicants have no affiliation with the Gulen movement. “The only affiliation this school will have is to the Loudoun County School Board, the Virginia Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education.”

Before their votes Tuesday, board members spoke against accusations that their decisions were based on the applicants’ race or religion. Debbie Rose (Algonkian) said she’s received “insistent phone calls, emails” and certified mail accusing her and other board members of their opposition to the charter school being racially motivated. Rose said her decision was based solely on a lack of public interest.

The few community members who have voiced their support for the charter school spoke of a dire need for people trained in cyber security—a need they said the charter school could meet.

“There are multiple job openings in information security that cannot be filled,” Nicolas Frangia of South Riding told board members Tuesday. “This is a national security issue.”

Several board members noted that the several positives of the months-long process brought to light a lack of information security curriculum within the county’s public schools. Morse extended an invitation to the applicants to team with the school system’s senior staff to help “us provide world class IT and cyber security curriculum for LCPS students.”

Board members weren’t shy to show their willingness to work with future charter school applicants. The current School Board has been outspoken about their support for the possibility of opening a charter school in Loudoun.

“If any applicant wants to open a charter school in Loudoun County, then you need to impress us with what you’re offering,” Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run) said. “It has to be a better way of doing things.”

Under Virginia law, the board must identify the reasons for denying the application in writing to both the applicant and the State Board of Education. The applicants also have a right to appeal the School Board’s decision.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

As Support Fades, Gulen proposed school in Loudoun County, Virginia makes changes to application

Mustafa Sahin and Tiffany Rad, members of the founding board of the proposed Loudoun Math & IT Academy charter school, listen during a recent School Board work session. Last week, Rad presented part of the school’s IT curriculum.

As Support Fades, Charter School Introduces IT Curriculum
Posted: Monday, February 11, 2013 5:30 pm
The applicants seeking to operate the Loudoun Math & IT Academy as Loudoun’s first charter school offered the first glimpse of its academic program last week, five months after the application was first presented to the School Board.
In a work session with School Board members last Thursday, Ali Gokce, Fatih Kandil and Tiffany Rad, the Loudoun County parents behind the application, promised a middle and high school curriculum with rigorous information technology courses.
Rad, a cyber security engineer who teaches a university course on the subject, was brought onto the charter’s founding board in November to head up its academic program.
“I want to tell you what will make this school special,” Rad told School Board members. She noted Loudoun County Public Schools already has the Academy of Science, which emphasizes science, and C.S. Monroe Technology Center, which teaches computer programming. “But this is going to be different.”
She told the School Board members that the academy, if approved, would offer three tracks: information security, networks and computer engineering, or programming.
Most of the courses will be fairly accelerated, she added. “The students we anticipate coming to this school are students who have exceptional skills with computers, with networks.”
The students would graduate with certifications that can secure them high-paying jobs right out of high school, or put them ahead of many of their peers in college, she said.
Rad was one of about five people who spoke during a public hearing held by the School Board’s select charter school committee in November about the need for qualified employees in the information security field.
“It’s not that [these courses] are extremely technical or difficult,” Rad told board members last Thursday. “They’re just not taught yet at the high school level, but I think they will be soon.”
School Board Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) expressed concern that the charter’s curriculum would create a gap between advanced students and those who know little about computers, because students who attend the school would be chosen on a lottery system.
“You can’t assume anything,” she said, noting that enrollment is open to every student, including special education students. “You may have a student who knows nothing about computers. You may have students who don’t have computers in their homes.”

Waning Support
Since the review committee meetings began in October and November, there has been little public support for the charter school. Just four people spoke during a public hearing on the matter held by the School Board last Tuesday, and all of them voiced opposition to the application.
Priscilla Godfrey, former School Board member, pointed to the application’s lack of curriculum and funding details, reasons the select charter school committee cited for recommending denial of the application.
“You must think carefully before taking this risk,” Godfrey said. “What is the risk of waiting for a better, more thorough application?”
Kirsten Langhorne, founding member of the political action committee Educate Loudoun, said she was encouraged to see the School Board members, most of whom were new to the dais last year, adopt a new policy on charter schools that allowed for more time to vet applications.
But her concern is that others who wanting to start a charter school in Loudoun would be discouraged if the School Board follows its committee’s recommendation and denies the Loudoun Math & IT Academy application.
“It could discourage future applicants or the public,” she said. “I think that’s one thing they need to communicate is that they really are still open to new ideas.”
Educate Loudoun supports school choice, including charter schools, but has not backed one particular charter application. The group hosted a forum on the pros of charter schools in Ashburn last April when the Loudoun Math & IT Academy had just gone public.
Telos CEO John Wood, also a founding member of Educate Loudoun, would like to see the Loudoun Math & IT Academy as another option in the county for students who do not make it into an extremely competitive facility like the Academy of Science or Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.
And if the School Board is indeed open to charter schools, Wood added, it should task school system senior staff with establishing a plan to open a charter in Loudoun no later than 2014 or 2015.
“The School Board is falling into the trap of doing school the traditional way, and it’d be nice to see them trying to do some experiments,” he said. “I think school choice provides competition, and with competition you get innovation, and with innovation you get improved outcomes, and improved outcomes are good for our kids.”
The School Board will hold its final public hearing on the Loudoun Math & IT Academy application at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the School Administration Building, 21000 Education Ct. in Broadlands. The board is scheduled to vote on the application Feb. 26.
http://www.leesburgtoday.com/news/as-support-fades-charter-school-introduces-it-curriculum/article_97410fca-749a-11e2-98ff-001a4bcf887a.html

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gulen Charter applicant denied more time for approval

Fatih Kandil and Ali Gokce attempt to freeze their charter application for 3 months. 


The Loudoun County School Board Tuesday night denied a request from charter school applicants for more time to perfect their proposal for the Loudoun Math & IT Academy.
In a 3-6 vote, the board voted to push forward with a review timeline that has the final decision whether to approve or deny the opening of what would be the county’s first charter school scheduled for Feb. 26.
In an email sent to School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) last week, Ali Gokce, lead applicant and president of the Loudoun Math & IT Academy founding board, asked for a 90-day freeze in the review process. The delay would give the applicants “additional time to adapt the application based on the valuable feedback that has been provided thus far in the process and ensure the best application possible can be presented to the full School Board for its consideration.”
The seven applicants, most of whom are Loudoun County parents, are aiming to open a sixth- through 12th-grade charter school for 575 students, with a focus on math, science and technology.
In October, after a two-month review of the application by the county school system’s senior staff, Deputy Superintendent Ned Waterhouse told the School Board the proposal lacked a viable financial plan, offered little detail about course instruction and, at that point, did not provide students sufficient credits in the required areas to graduate from high school.
“There are a lot of details missing,” Waterhouse said.
Two months later, the School Board’s charter school select committee’s review ended on a similar note. Citing similar gaps in the proposal, the committee voted to recommend the full School Board deny the application.
School Board Vice Chairman Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), noting the state Board of Education’s similar concerns over its cursory curriculum plan, said she was “disappointed” the applicants hadn’t filled in some of those missing pieces.
“When you have a formal process like this—when you have to go to the state, then the [LCPS] staff and now the select committee, and you’ve heard the same thing time and time again—I would think they’d get right on that to improve that,” she said.
Only Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run), Bill Fox (Leesburg) and Jeff Morse (Dulles), who chaired the charter school select committee, supported freezing the review process for three months.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best possible application from this applicant,” Fox said, “and I’d like to see it,”
Chairman Eric Hornberger, who opposed the extension, said if at the end of the full board’s review there is “sufficient interest” from board members to take more time with the application, they can.
“We owe it to the applicant, and to the public, to go through the process and make a decision, and not stop the process midway,” he added.
In October, Mindy Williams, the spokeswoman for the seven Loudoun parents behind the charter school application, said that the applicants purposely left some of the details open.
“We had always anticipated a dialogue with school staff and the School Board so that we can be able to have a school that reflects their input and feedback,” she said.
In the email to Hornberger, Gokce said additional time would allow him and his fellow applicants to “improve and add details to the LMITA curriculum section, extend our parent/community outreach and to work to obtain fundraising p
ledges from the business community to help demonstrate there is support among the business community for our math and IT-focused charter model.”




Gulen Politicians - aka "Useful tools of Gulen": More Virigina legislators pull back support from p...

Gulen Politicians - aka "Useful tools of Gulen": More Virigina legislators pull back support from p...: Although the proposed Gulen operated charter school for Loudoun County has been denied.  Senator Black should be praised for being one of ...