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Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas

June 9, 2011

This is a pretty amazing story (6 or 7 pages) in the online NYTimes, it was sent to me by a fellow teacher (Thanks Bonnie).  I can’t do the entire story justice in this short blog post, but I encourage readers to take the link and read the entire story.

In  our country, in time of dire budget problems, it seems that anyone with money has all they need to succeed.  In this case it is the Cosmos Foundation which the Times describes as a: “a charter school operator founded a decade ago by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. Operating under the name Harmony Schools, Cosmos has moved quickly to become the largest charter school operator in Texas, with 33 schools receiving more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds.”

Isn’t that nice?  Let me get this straight, in Texas, where everything is God, Guns, Apple Pie, Chevrolet, America – Luvin, Foreigner – Hatin, Tea Party Nation, we have the largest charter school operator in Texas…?  Wait, it gets better:

While educating schoolchildren across Texas, the group has also nurtured a close-knit network of businesses and organizations run by Turkish immigrants. The businesses include not just big contractors like TDM but also a growing assemblage of smaller vendors selling school lunches, uniforms, after-school programs, Web design, teacher training and even special education assessments.

Do you see how this works?  You have deep, deep, pockets, you set up a Charter School operation, you sell school lunches, after-school programs, Web design, teacher training etc…and you suck off of the public teat!  You see, traditional public schools and services are verboten apparently in our great American sell-off of our public assets.  Texas, the state in which I believe its Governor Rick Perry stated they might secede from the United States seems to be leading the charge against traditional education.

The growth of these “Turkish schools,” as they are often called, has come with a measure of backlash, not all of it untainted by xenophobia. Nationwide, the primary focus of complaints has been on hundreds of teachers and administrators imported from Turkey: in Ohio and Illinois, the federal Department of Labor is investigating union accusations that the schools have abused a special visa program in bringing in their expatriate employees. 

Fantastic, bring in teachers and administrators from Turkey (they must know our education system better than us) while there are literally thousands of laid off teachers in the US.  Nice!  I wonder where the Tea Party acolytes who heavily populate Texas stand on this one?

This is another symptom of a serious problem facing American Public Education.  The purveyors of “reform” are attempting a gigantic hijack of public funds.  They figure it worked with the bank bailouts, why not get a piece of the funds that flow to public education in this country?

“It kind of boils my blood a little bit, all the money that was spent, when I know it could have been done for less,” said Deborah Jones, an owner of daj Construction, one of four lower bidders who failed to win a recent contract for a school renovation in the Austin area.

Harmony’s history underscores the vast latitude that many charter school systems have been granted to spend public funds. While the degree of oversight varies widely from state to state, the rush to approve charter schools has meant that some barely monitor charter school operations.

Who do we have to thank for the “vast latitude that many charter school systems have been granted to spend public funds?”  Well, Republicans of course.  Throw in a bit of “reformer” magic likes Gates, Guggenheim, Alter, etc…and you have a real toxic brew.  VOTING MATTERS teachers.  Remember to stand strong for candidates who will back strong public schools.

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