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Across town, another group of education advocates is also making a second attempt at landing state approval for a charter school. The group is led by Ismail Agirman, a senior engineer at Otis Elevators. She has been seeking to open a math and science high school for years. Agirman got approval in 2006 for one such school in Hartford, but the state legislature didn’t pass funding for new charter schools that year, according to board member Fatih Mercan, a Yale molecular biologist currently researching cancer.
Mercan said he got hooked on biology early on, in high school, when he took part in a biology Olympiad. He wants other students to catch the science fever, too, so they can enter the fast-growing field of medical, academic and industry jobs that require a math and science education.
A lot of students “don’t want to choose math because they feel unprepared and they are afraid of it,” he said.
The Connecticut Academy of Math and Science (CAMS) would be a new math and science school for grades 7 to 12 in New Haven. The proposal is similar to New Haven’s district-run Engineering Science and University Magnet School, which is in the process of expanding to serve grades 6 to 12. Mercan said he doesn’t see a problem in having two similar schools in the same town; he said there’s plenty of need for math and science education.
CAMS would feature a longer school day and a 200-day school year. It would start small and grow to serve 250 kids in four years.
ABOUT THE APPLICANTS: http://gulencharterschools.weebly.com/proposed-gulen-charter-schools.html
Connecticut Academy of Math and Science (CAMS)
State: Connecticut City: New Haven
Petitioners: Ismail Agirman (tied to private Gulen school Putnam Science Academy), Fatih Mercan, Ahmet Gunay (tied to Putnam Science Academy; attempted First State Math and Science Academy), Mehmet A Basaran
News articles: Jan 16, 2013, Jan 23, 2013
WILL CONNECTICUT BE HOME TO THE NEXT GULEN CHARTER SCHOOL?
Note: Over the next few weeks, Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Connecticut State Board of Education will be reviewing and approving applications for new charter schools in Connecticut. This is the first in a series of posts about some of the applicants for these publicly funded charter schools.
“Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish author, educator, and Muslim scholar.” (Wikipedia)
“Fethullah Gulen is a major Islamic political figure in Turkey, but he lives in self-imposed exile in a Poconos enclave and gained his green card by convincing a federal judge in Philadelphia that he was an influential educational figure in the United States.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 2011)
“Controversial Muslim preacher, feared Turkish intriguer—and “inspirer” of the largest charter school network in America.” (City Journal, fall 2012)
Date Line Connecticut;
On April 7th 2011, Nebi Demirsoy, in his capacity as President of the Connecticut chapter of the Turkish Cultural Center – presented Governor Dannel P. Malloy with the Center’s “Statesman of the Year Award.”
Last year, on March 8, 2012, Nebi Demirsoy, in his capacity as Executive Director of the Connecticut chapter of the Peace Islands Institute presented Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, with the organization’s “Educator of the Year” award.
Other guests in attendance at the March 8th gala included Congressman Chris Murphy, Governor Dannel Malloy, Speaker of the House of Representatives Christopher G. Donovan, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin Ryan and State Board of Education Chairman Allan B. Taylor. Both Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor addressed the audience.
The Peace Islands Institute – CT, the entity giving Commissioner Pryor the award, is part of a broader organization with offices in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
The Honorary President of Peace Islands Institute is Fethullah Gulen.
In addition to serving as President of the Turkish Cultural Center and the Executive Director of the Peace Islands Institute, Nebi Demirsoy also serves as the President of the Putman Science Academy; a Gulen associated private boarding school located in Putnam, Connecticut.
This year, among the 24 applications submitted to Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and the Connecticut State Board of Education for new state funded charter schools was a charter school application submitted by Ismail Agirman. The new charter school would be built in New Haven.
Ismail Agirman is the treasurer of Wellspring Cultural and Education Foundation, Inc.
Bringing the circle to completion, Wellspring is the corporate entity that operates the Putnam Science Academy.
CAMS – A New Charter School for Connecticut
Calling themselves the Connecticut Academy of Math and Science (CAMS), Agriman’s application was one of the nine proposals for new charter schools in Bridgeport, four charter schools in New Haven and two schools in Hartford and Windham.
Although the State Board of Education does not require support from local education officials, formal or informal support is considered a valuable asset. The year before Stefan Pryor was awarded the “Educator of the Year” award, the Turkish Cultural Center gave their “Education Award” to New Haven Public Schools Superintendent Reginald Mayo, the New Haven education official whose support for the new Connecticut Academy of Math and Science charter school would be invaluable.
In addition, according to the New Haven Independent, two of the nine members of the proposed Connecticut Academy of Math and Science board of directors have important political connections; Deputy Speaker of the House Kevin Ryan and Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins.
Deputy Speaker of the House Kevin Ryan has been connected with the Turkish Cultural Center for a number of years, having traveled on one of the Cultural Center’s trips to Turkey.
Meanwhile, Chief Higgins was previously presented with a Turkish Cultural Center Appreciation Award at an even in July 2010.
What is a Gulen Charter School?
As reported in the New York Times, the Washington Post, 60 minutes, the New Yorker, the New Republic and elsewhere, by successfully maximizing state charter school laws around the country, there are at least 135 schools, operating in 26 states and enrolling more than 45,000 students that are associated or affiliated, in one way or another, with the controversial Turkish Cleric Fethullah Gulen.
As publicly funded charters, these schools pull in over $400 million a year in taxpayer funds.
The total number of schools and the amount of public funds that they collect make the Gulen charters, as they are often called, the largest charter school chain in the United States.
Fethullah Gulen’s followers, which often refer to themselves as a “faith-based, civic society movement,” include about 4 to 6 million people. While they make up only a fraction of the 74 million Turks, they are considered one of the most powerful political forces in Turkey.
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