By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.:
The Loudoun County School Board is reaching the denouement of a multiyear deliberation about an application for a charter school that has strong ties to Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Islamist. His followers have already started some 135 American charter schools. Their focus is to promote an increasingly Shariah-dominated Turkey.
Incredibly, the school board’s members are studiously avoiding any acknowledgment or discussion of the role of Fethullah Gulen and his movement in the charter school. They have wrestled for many months with a host of problems with the application — such as serious deficiencies with the proposed curriculum, the financing, the management, the teachers and Maryland’s Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School, the school in Anne Arundel County specifically cited as the “model” for the Loudoun Math and Information Technology Academy.
Yet the members of the school board have, to date, been unwilling to recognize that these problems are actually endemic in Gulen-associated schools — including Chesapeake Science Point. These problems are also much in evidence in three Gulen charter schools in Fulton County, Ga. Two of the three have lost their charters; the third — an elementary school — may soon follow suit.
I had the occasion to visit Fulton County last week and talked with several people involved in one aspect or another of its difficulties with the Gulenists. These included a former teacher, the parent of a former student and a local administrator. One thing is clear from these conversations: You simply cannot begin to understand, let alone cope with, the sorts of issues inherent in “Gulen-inspired” schools if you indulge — for whatever reason, be it “political correctness,” sensitivity to “diversity,” fear of litigation or being branded an “Islamophobe,” racist, etc. — in the pretense that applications like the one in Loudoun County can be properly evaluated while excluding from the evaluation process the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the applicants’ manifest associations to the Gulen movement.
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