“Turkish Charter Schools in Memphis, Tenn. Tied to Texas and Islam?”
Summary of articles – by Donna Garner
Based upon news articles, here is my summary of events: Terry Roland, Shelby County Commissioner (Tennessee), has accused former Memphis Mayor/Memphis schools superintendent Willie Herenton (who now runs W.E.B. DuBois Consortium charter school group) of having ties to the Turkish Fethullah Gulen-Cosmos Foundation-Harmony Charter Schools in Texas.
Herenton had applied to set up nine charter schools in Shelby County, and his application was denied. Then the state treasurer overruled the vote in April 2012.
Herenton had written on his charter school application that his schools would be tied to the Fethullah Gulen-Cosmos Foundation-Harmony Charter Schools in Texas. Now, when his charters are under public scrutiny, Herenton has suddenly decided to deny any such ties.
Last night, Commissioner Roland showed a flow chart in his press conference that graphically tied Herenton’s charter schools to Harmony in Texas and, therefore, to the Gulenists.
Roland plans to contact the FBI and the Attorney General’s office to present his research.
The state of Tennessee has passed a law that all charter schools must reveal any foreign funding.
In a separate newspaper article in yesterday’s Commercial Appeal, it was mentioned that there already is a Harmony-associated school in Memphis called Memphis School of Excellence (MSOE). When Turkish Principal Ali Gumas of MSOE was interviewed, he stated, "We receive no funding from the Cosmos Foundation…People are trying to put us in same spot because of our ethnicity.”
However, this website ( http://gulencharterschools.weebly.com/memphis-school-of-excellence-... ) contains links and documentation from April 19, 2011 and Aug. 27, 2011 (website of the County Clerk of Fort Bend County, Texas – “Support Service Agreements,” etc.) that shows money is flowing from the Read Foundation to the Memphis School of Excellence to the Turkish Gulen-Cosmos Foundation-Harmony Charter Schools in Texas.
When the news media interviews these Turkish charter school operatives, invariably they almost always say the same thing: “We have no ties to each other nor to Fethullah Gulen.” However, when the facts are dug out, they prove otherwise.
Obviously, Herenton’s Consortium and Memphis School of Tennessee are all tied together through a massive Turkish/Islam empire that is operating right under our noses while using our income taxes to indoctrinate our public school children. What a diabolical plan!
Perhaps the “fire” is getting a bit too close to Fethullah Gulen because rumors are being circulated that he is in the midst of leaving his compound in Pennsylvania to return to Turkey. Even though it may take the FBI and other federal and state agencies awhile to take down these Turkish Gulen charter schools, it will be a relief to have Fethullah Gulen gone from the United States.
State legislators could do a great deal to quicken the demise of these Turkish Gulen charter schools by passing safeguards that should apply to all charter schools:
6.12.13 – “Texas Legislature Badly Need To Pass Safeguards for All Charter Schools” – by Donna Garner -- http://educationviews.org/2012/06/12/texas-legislature-badly-needs-...
One more law that state legislators need to pass is the one similar to Oklahoma State Rep. Ed Cannady’s (D-Porum) HB 3130 that says all charter schools that hire H-1B temporary worker teachers on these visas must first file a report with their state departments of education, showing proof that these charter schools have first exhausted all recruitment efforts to hire teachers who are state-qualified, U. S. residents. To read more about Rep. Cannady’s bill, please go to: http://harmonyparenttruth.blogspot.com/2012/03/gulen-charter-school...
6.12.12 – WMCTV.com – Memphis, Tennessee - Action News 5 -- Charter Schools Tied to Islam?
Please be sure to listen to the news segment from WMCTV.com that is posted on the their website -- http://www.wmctv.com/story/18770852/commissioner-believes-nine-char...
Commissioner believes nine charter schools linked to Islamic fundamentalist
Posted: Jun 12, 2012 5:05 PM CDTUpdated: Jun 12, 2012 7:09 PM CDT
By Kontji Anthony
(WMC-TV) - A Shelby County commissioner claims that nine charter schools former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton plans to open are linked to an alleged Islamic fundamentalist [Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic imam].
Commissioner Terry Roland asked the county attorney to investigate if former Memphis mayor and superintendent Dr. Herenton's schools are linked to a Turkish cleric.
Roland said the W.E.B. DuBois Consortium charter school group has ties to Islamic Cleric Fethullah Gulen of the Turkish Gulen Movement.
He laid out the link in a flow chart that shows Harmony Schools of Texas, mentioned in Herenton's charter school application, and is ultimately linked to Gulen.
Supporters describe the Gulen Movement as teachings that serve the common good. Opponents call it a front for Islamic fundamentalism.
"This Islamic cleric right here, he's got 120 charter schools across the United States," said Shelby County Commissioner Roland.
In a telephone conversation, Dr. Herenton said he has nothing to do with the cleric. He said Roland wants a street fight and he will not respond to nonsense. He added his group has not received one penny from any financial source.
"I'm going to contact the FBI, the attorney general's Office, This ain't gonna go away. I want some answers," said Roland.
Roland also accused fellow Commissioner Brent Taylor of hiding plans to serve on Herenton's charter school board.
"The board did not exist for me to list it on the application. I also did not list my membership to the House of Representatives," explained Taylor.
Roland and Taylor have gone head-to-head since Taylor was appointed the commission last year.
The county attorney ruled Tuesday that Taylor did not violate any ethics rule.
The State of Tennessee passed a law this month requiring charter schools to disclose all foreign funding.
Roland will also propose charter schools in Shelby County put up a bond…
6.12.12 – From The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee –
Excerpts from this article:
Shelby County commissioner questions link between Herenton's charter schools, Texas group
County Commissioner Terry Roland wants answers about whether a charter school group headed by former Memphis mayor Willie Herenton is linked to Harmony Public Schools -- a Texas-based group with a controversial past and questionable affiliation.
On Monday, Roland asked the County Attorney's Office to look into any connection between Herenton's W.E.B. DuBois Consortium of Charter Schools and Harmony.
He also wanted to know of any association between Harmony and Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric described in a recent New York Times article as "a charismatic Turkish preacher of a moderate brand of Islam whose devotees have built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name."
Today, Roland will hold a news conference to publicize the findings of his own research. He also plans to raise questions about whether fellow Commissioner Brent Taylor adequately disclosed his association as a board member with Herenton's group when Taylor was appointed in an interim capacity last year.
"This is what I'm wanting to clear up," Roland said of the background players for Harmony Schools. "This is what I want to bring to the front for the people to know. To get to the bottom of it."
Herenton on Monday adamantly denied a connection between his group and Harmony Schools, operated by the Cosmos Foundation.
"Harmony schools, based in Texas, had indicated a desire and willingness to work with DuBois Consortium, if needed," he said. "We do not have a strategic partner as part of our organization."
Taylor believes Roland's question about him is personal. Taylor said at the time he was appointed, the DuBois board was more of an idea than a reality.
"The board has never been approved, as far as I know," said Taylor, who was appointed to Commissioner Mike Carpenter's seat. "I've had a total of one conversation with Dr. Herenton when he asked me to serve on his board.
"As far as I know, the board's never met, never elected officers."
County Atty. Kelly Rayne acknowledged receipt of Roland's inquiry on whether Taylor's omission violated the county ethics policy. Rayne said Damon Griffin, an assistant county attorney and the county's ethics officer, could issue his findings today.
Herenton's experience as a former Memphis mayor and Memphis schools superintendent drew attention to his effort.
In the application to the unified school board for his charter schools, Herenton noted that a "strategic alliance has been formed with Harmony Schools, the largest charter school operator in the state of Texas.
"... Harmony Schools will assist the W.E.B. DuBois Consortium with start up and ongoing school operations."
Herenton acknowledged the reference in the application, but said there was no alliance with Harmony.
He included Harmony because he wanted "to impress" Achievement School District Supt. Chris Barbic, who founded the Yes Prep chain of charters in Houston.
"We thought it would strengthen our application, especially with the ASD leader because he is aware of the fine work Harmony does in Texas," Herenton said. "The only reason I mentioned the possibility of working with them was to impress Mr. Barbic."
Herenton applied to open nine charter schools in Shelby County. The unified school board rejected Herenton's applications and eight others, saying so many new charter schools would negatively impact the city and county school budgets. The state treasurer overruled the vote in early April.
…In recent years, Harmony Schools has drawn significant publicity, and not always of a good nature. There are questions about the group's link to Gulen.
Media, including The New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and "60 Minutes," have cited problems on how funds funneled to the charter schools are spent and questions about school personnel and reported ties to Gulen.
…There already is a Harmony-associated school in the city. Memphis School of Excellence, a charter at 4450 Mendenhall, opened in 2010.
Principal Ali Gumas said the the charter's only link to Harmony is using its teaching model. "We receive no funding from the Cosmos Foundation," Gumas said.
He has seen the "60 Minutes" story and read media accounts of problems in other states, including reports in Texas where Harmony is accused of awarding contracts to people with Turkish heritage who were not the low bidders.
…In a June 1 e-mail -- provided by Roland -- John Barker, chief of staff for the city schools, noted the Memphis charter's ties to the Cosmos Foundation and Harmony Public Schools, but added: "each firmly asserts to us that they have no affiliation of any kind with Fethullah Gulen or the movement bearing his name."
Roland is unconvinced and wants the matter studied.
Asked if his questions were based on Gulen's Islamic background, the commissioner replied: "Nah. Here's the thing, it doesn't set well him being an Islamic cleric, but what I want to know is where that money is going?"
-- Clay Bailey: (901) 529-2393
-- Jane Roberts: (901) 529-2512
6.12.12 – GulenCharterSchools.weebly.com – “Memphis School of Excellence: Denials and Evidence” --