From Diane Ravitch's blog - A site to discuss better education for all, Thursday, February 23, 2017. SEE https://dianeravitch.net/2017/02/23/westfieldspringfieldagawamholyoke-massachusetts-do-you-want-a-gulen-turkish-charter-to-compete-with-your-public-schools/
Westfield/Springfield/Agawam/Holyoke, Massachusetts: Do You Want a Gulen Turkish Charter to Compete with Your Public Schools?
By Diane Ravitch
A public school activist in Massachusetts sent this letter from Robert Amsterdam, an attorney retained by the Government of Turkey to investigate the large charter chain run by Fetullah Gulen. Gulen is an Islamic cleric who lives in seclusion in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He has some vague connection with some 170 or so charter schools that are paid for with public funds but staffed and run mainly by Turkish nationals. Now, says Amsterdam, the Gulen chain plans to open another charter school in Westfield and other nearby districts in Massachusetts. This charter will drain resources and students from the democratically controlled public schools of Westfield. The private board of the Gulen charter will not be elected by voters, but selected by its Turkish owners.
"On February 27, the 12-member Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will be voting on whether or not to allow the Chicopee-based Hampden Charter School of Science to open a sister school in Westfield. In the application tabled by HCSS West, the new facility would aim to be a regional grade 6-12 school drawing 588 students from Agawam, Holyoke, Westfield, and West Springfield school districts.
"Parents and taxpayers should urgently Press the board to reject this request. This school has known ties to the Turkish-run Pioneer Charter Schools of Science in Everett and Saugas, which are part of a nationwide network of some 170 schools operated by Fetullah Gulen."
Amsterdam goes on to point out the financial abuses associated with Gulen schools, in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Two-thirds of voters in the affected districts voted against charter expansion last November.
Expanding charters is part of the Trump strategy for privatizing public schools.
Massachusetts has the best state school system in the nation. Protect it from privatization. Make it better.
Stop the Trump-DeVos agenda now, in Massachusetts!
Jerry P. Becker
Department of Curriculum & Instruction
College of Education and Human Services
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
625 Wham Drive / MC 4610
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
I draw attention to this post in my recent journal entry, mostly about other things.
My ethnic group, a small religious sect known as Quakers, has historic affinity with Sufis. When I see Diane Ravitch piling on the invective, inflaming anger against this ethnicity, I have to worry. Will Quakers be next?
In my neck of the woods, a public school need not even be charter to have an ethnic focus. We have a Japanese immersion option as a part of our main-line public schools. Lincoln High teaches Arabic.
So now we learn these Gulen schools are somewhat biased toward the Turkish world and ethnicity. Not Japanese. Not Arabic exactly. So what? We're supposed to act like knee-jerk robots and write our representatives that all public schools must be the same?
Oh that's right. Charter schools are not "really" public schools. They usually have to find their own building, none provided by the district. They're definitely second class, the target of lots of media campaigns.
So if an idealistic team of young folks, millennials of some stripe, want to help start a new public school with new ideas, new experiments, where do they apply? For one thing they're going to focus on hip hop a lot more, the lyrics and subculture, when teaching the history of this land (based on a true story ).
Oh, there's no possible way? That door is closed?
You can start a new charter school, but the non-charter public schools are not opening their ranks any further? Those are all a done deal? Says who again?
I'm thinking why not start over with a blank slate? Given the Business Plot that succeeded in Washington DC awhile back, I think we might debate whether we really have *any* US public schools. I'd say we have imposters only. Real US public schools would be a whole different animal. 
They'd teach about our heritage for one thing, meaning about Smedley Butler and the Business Plot in some chapter (when explaining Occupy maybe?). It didn't succeed back then (FDR's day), only later (around Reagan).
By now it's all corporately sponsored puppet shows (not a heavily disputed proposition), bread and circuses for the worthy citizens of Rome.
Don't worry, if you've had the standard so-called "public" education, that "Rome stuff" won't mean a thing.
Suppose for some strange reason, one wished to destabilize society. How might that be best accomplished?
First, downgrade the public school system by consistently critisizing it, and starve it for funds. This would incentivize the establishment of alternate institutions - lauded for the property of "choice". These alternates would be defined by race, culture, religion and status.
So, rather than a shared public school experience which enables societal cohesion, we would hive off children into enclaves where they would have their "we vs them" attitudes reinforced.
The next stage might be to establish post sec institutions along the same exclusive lines.
To quote a line from a Kris Kristopherson tune: "Everyone needs someone to look down on."
And happy pi day to all - I'm old enough to remember when it was on 22nd of July!
Gary Tupper, north of the 49th.
On Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 7:35 PM Kirby Urner <[hidden email]> wrote:
Don't worry, if you've had the standard so-called "public" education, that "Rome stuff" won't mean a thing.
Offense can never be given; it can only be taken
In reply to this post by Jerry Becker
"Oh that's right. Charter schools are not "really" public schools. They usually have to find their own building, none provided by the district. They're definitely second class, the target of lots of media campaigns."
You might want to look at how Eva Moskowitz has gotten primo space in NYC public school buildings to the disadvantage of the students/staff of the actual public school in which hers "bilocates." Kids and teachers shunted off into the basement to breathe fumes from the boiler room while the charter school occupies the main parts of the building. Situations where special equipment that was originally ordered for the neighborhood school gets neatly put into the hands of the "Success Academy," while the kids for whom it was ordered never get access to it. And so on.
If your "ethnic group" were trying to use charter schools to bring in a host of people from some other country who may not be at all qualified to teach anything, let alone the subject they are given jobs teaching, attacks on that practice might have nothing to do with either "ethnicity" or religion, but rather on sleazy ploys that really have nothing to do with education at all.
Further, while I have plenty of issues with which I vehemently disagree with Dr. Ravitch, I'm pretty sure your rhetorical device of claiming she advocates making all public schools "the same" is patent baloney (as you undoubtedly know).
Public schools as currently comprised in most places are not "the answer." Neither, however, are corporate charters with a primarily financial agenda nor religion-based ones that either serve the unconstitutional agenda of Betsy DeVos (coming to a public school near you in the next four years for sure) or whatever it is exactly that the Gulen schools are up to. And asking the public to pay for patent violations of the separation clause - once unthinkable - is now becoming business as usual. With all due respect to your creative efforts to make public education better locally, and with all due skepticism towards Ravitch's propensity to attack the entire charter school movement in a monolithic and utterly un-nuanced way, Gulen schools deserve sharp scrutiny and criticism, as does every corporate charter chain I've seen in the last 20 years or so. It's quite reasonable to critique those places and in fact necessary to do so. That doesn't mean that we don't need innovation (I c!
an no longer use the word "reform" in connection to education without feeling ill) and creativity in what's available to students throughout the land.
In reply to this post by gatupper
Your "rather than a shared public school experience which enables societal cohesion" is what scares the natives, dontcha know.
Whose ethnicity determines what's "shared" again? Those people who believe in lockers but no personal workspace, no cubicles?
In a real public school everyone gets at least as much personal space as a cube farmer gets in an office tower. That's a minimum student demand we'd hope to meet. A private study space, yours for the year, but in a shared space (yes, an office tower most likely -- what you never went to school above the 10th floor?).
We we do not have, have never had, is one victorious ethnicity before which all others must bow down.
What we do have, or try to have, is a way of managing dynamism as the melting pot roils but never settles down into just the one "gray goo" the lazier social theorists may yearn for, as it'd make social theory so much easier.
I find it funny how STEM-starved Americans feel insulted and somewhat dazed that Sufi inspired teachers afar would seek to spread excitement about math and science. You'd think a nation of missionaries would get that.
Judy Woodruff on 60 Minutes that time: why would Turkish people have anything to teach *us*? (her attitude -- she called it counter-intuitive). Many Americans have no clue how Arabic cultures kept the ancient Greek civilization alive while the Latin cultures dove into darkness. They think Al Gore invented the algorithm, not Al Khwarizmi.
Why not take the same attitudes we have towards dining out, when variety is much appreciated. You're this family, looking at schools. Do you want the Greeks (pretty orthodox), the Geeks (more like code school), the Russian-flavored (lotsa lit), or Burger King (all American party lovers)?
Every neighborhood has its diverse offerings, it's flavors (always shifting), presumably somewhat reflective of the people who actually live there. This is not a top down imposition.
People of Turkish heritage are all over the place (as we're finding out in the news these days) and many have American citizenship. However if more franchises spin up like Harmony and those, charter or not charter I don't know, marketing as Singapore-tied, or Czech Republic, am I gonna complain? Off the bat, no. I'd like to sample, see the Youtubes. Diversity in itself is not a problem.
It's not about little enclaves all learning to hate each other. It's about cross-enrolling across neighborhoods, on purpose picking whatever magnate or immersion experience.
Where but in America do families have such a smorgasbord of offerings and opportunities to synergize? It's what made America great.
Why not celebrate our heritage rather than insist on dumbing it down and enforcing some uniform pabulum, a lot of it recycled from the UK, from which independence was won you might recall. Or go with a Pearson prime UK-template flavor, fine, if that's in your taste buds. Free country. As long as there's choice (staying home one of them).
Yes, happy Pi Day.
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