Sunday, March 31, 2013
Turkish Olympiad-A Gulen "show": Gulen Charter Schools participate in Turkish Olymp...: Charter Schools managed by Gulen followers participate in Turkish Olympiad. Nothing more ridiculous than seeing African Americans in Turk...
Saturday, March 2, 2013
A rendering of the proposed Business and Entrepreneurship Academy Charter High School in West Easton
By Adam Clark, Of The Morning Call
10:40 p.m. EST, February 27, 2013
Wilson Area School Board on Wednesday night unanimously rejected the proposed Business and Entrepreneurship Academy Charter High School in West Easton.
The school pre-enrolled only one student and failed to demonstrate sustainable support from parents and community members, according to the resolution passed by the board. It also failed to demonstrate that it would provide expanded curriculum choices and that it has partnerships with local businesses to provide the curriculum and teaching model it advertises.
Furthermore, the charter's application failed to address plans for teaching health, family and consumer sciences and music, among other "core areas," the resolution says.
Joe Lewis, former Bethlehem Area School District superintendent and a consultant for the charter's founders, said he wanted to read the resolution before responding to the board's reasons for denying the application. He said he wasn't surprised with the decision and that it was consistent with public schools' across the state being threatened both financially and on an instructional level by charter schools.
The founders will meet and discuss whether they want to appeal, look for a different location or re-submit to Wilson Area for the 2014-15 school year, Lewis said.
"Stay tuned," he said.
The charter school's founding board has 30 days to appeal the decision, Wilson Area solicitor Don Spry said.
If the school had been approved, it would have opened this fall for ninth- and 10th-grade students and eventually would have expanded into a four-year high school. It would have focused on core curriculum in the morning and featured an incubator program in the afternoon.
Students would have developed business plans and worked with mentors in the business community to cultivate their ideas. They would have had internships or externships, gone on career exploration field trips and participated in a 10th-grade career fair.
Before the vote at Wednesday's meeting, several supporters spoke in favor of the school, including developer Abe Atiyeh, who would have leased the building.
"The kids in this school are going to be motivated to be entrepreneurs, business leaders and doing the right thing," Atiyeh said. "I just can't see a real reason for you all to deny this application."
Lou DiRenzo, president and founder of Bethlehem chemical company Puritan Products, said a school focusing on entrepreneurship is "long past due."
"I've seen kids today that just, there's no entrepreneurial spirit in them," DiRenzo said. "There's no enterprising young children in the area."
School board members didn't make any comments before voting.
"I think the resolution speaks to the reasons why the board denied it," Superintendent Doug Wagner said after the meeting.
The school's financial plan was based on enrolling 175 students in its first year. Charter schools are free for parents because the districts they live in pass money along to the charter school. But aside from the one pre-enrolled student, the charter submitted only nine letters of parental support. Two were illegible, and none of the others were from Wilson Area parents.
No one who lives in the Wilson district wrote a letter of support for the school or joined the founding board.
Lewis and the school's founders have said throughout the application process that the charter is intended as a regional school, with few students coming from Wilson and the majority coming from Easton or other districts. The application included 28 letters of support, but 10 were from people involved in founding the school.
The proposed school had no formal, defined partnerships with local businesses because it said it needed its charter approved first. It was the first charter school to be proposed in the district.
Another Gulenist sponsored charter school application denied in Gulen's backyard Allentown, Pennsylvania
By Colin McEvoy | The Express-TimesThe Express-Times
on February 28, 2013 at 8:50 PM, updated March 01, 2013 at 12:37 PM
on February 28, 2013 at 8:50 PM, updated March 01, 2013 at 12:37 PM
For the fourth time in eight years, the Allentown School Board on Thursday unanimously rejected an application to establish a new engineering charter school in the city.
Board members previously expressed concerns about whether the group is associated with a controversial movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.
But Superintendent Russell Mayo recommended the charter be rejected not because of any ties to that movement, but due to concerns about its curriculum, budget and lack of community support.
Board member Julie Ambrose praised the charter applicant's desire to create a individualized and safe school setting for its students, but said the academic merits of the application fell short.
"The charter option for students is supposed to be based on academics and provide a unique alternative academic experience that's not otherwise available, but that is sustainable through community support, and unfortunately this did not meet those requirements," she said.
Nobody from the charter application group or the public spoke during the board meeting.
The Allentown Engineering Academy Charter School sought to open at 265 Lehigh St. next year starting with 180 students from grades six to eight, then later expand to all grade levels.
The school board has rejected three engineering school applications since 2005 to establish the engineering charter school, in part because of those applicants' affiliation with the Gülen movement.
The current applicants argued they were not affiliated with those past applications even though all three were also called the Allentown Engineering Academy Charter School.
While the Gülen movement was discussed during a public hearing in December, it was not mentioned at all during Thursday's board meeting.
Mayo recommended rejecting the charter because the curriculum failed to cover core academic topics, and because the proposed budget did not cover necessary teacher training.
He also cited a perceived lack of community support, noting that the district received only five letters of support from individuals or organizations from the Allentown community.
"This application was weak in the area of community support, which is one of the required areas of strength," Mayo said.
Board member Scott Armstrong said the board regrets rejecting any charter, and encouraged the group to come back with a stronger application in the future.
"I think there's a lot of good in this application that I would encourage those advocating for it to pursue further," Armstrong said.
Howard Kurtz, an education consultant who wrote the current application, previously said "very offensive" and "obscene" efforts have been made to falsely tie the application to the Gülen movement.
Kutz said of the 22 members of the current charter foundation coalition, only two were involved in the three previous applications.
The Gülen movement describes itself as a nonpolitical civic movement that preaches religious tolerance and the importance of science in schools without advocating a specific religion. But critics call it a political movement seeking to spread an Islamic dogma, according to a New York Times article.
Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.