Empire of Deceit says charters squandering taxes and violating immigration laws

The new book Empire of Deceit alleges “misconduct/misuse of taxpayer funds visa and program” at Gülen-affiliated charter schools. The book is calling for immediate federal and state investigations.

The Gülen charters are the nation’s second largest network of charter schools (See also the Atlantic’s piece 120 American Charter Schools and One Secretive Turkish Cleric). The Gülen charters are apparently run by an islamic cleric that was kicked out of Turkey and many say was responsible for the recent attempted coup (See also Gulen-affiliated charter schools are bad apples?).

The Gülen movement has a significant beachhead in Texas. Houston-based Harmony Schools is the largest chain in the Gülen network and earlier was subject of an investigative piece in the New York Times. Houston is also home to the Gulen Institute, located at the University of Houston School of Social Work. They also run a university in Houston.

The Gülen-affiliated charter schools in California are called Magnolia. They basically have different name for their charter schools depending on which region of the country they are located.

For more background, I recommend you immediately see the film Killing Ed: Charter Schools, Corruption, and the Gülen Movement.

Here is the book’s press release:

Amsterdam & Partners LLP today released Empire of Deceit: An Investigation of the Gülen Charter School Network, a new book that, for the first time, details how the nationwide charter school network controlled by the Gülen Organization enriches itself at the expense of American school children, teachers and taxpayers. According to the book, Fethullah Gülen  (PRNewsfoto/Amsterdam & Partners LLP)discovered a financing mechanism to support his organization – the American charter school system. 199 Gülen-affiliated schools across the U.S. generate more than $750 million in revenue, primarily through government funds on the backs of taxpayers, using a scheme of suspect real estate practices, insider deals and kickbacks with Turkish vendors, and rampant overuse of the H-1B visa program.

“The Gülen charter school network abuses the H-1B visa program and the American educational system to sustain and perpetuate the Gülen Organization,” stated Robert R. Amsterdam, Founding Partner at Amsterdam & Partners LLP and lead author of Empire of Deceit. “It is time for federal, state and local authorities to join with American parents and teachers to thoroughly investigate this network and protect American children and taxpayers.”

Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish imam living in a guarded compound in Pennsylvania with a network of schools around the globe. The authors’ investigations allege that through inflated pricing, vendor kickbacks, tithing by Turkish teachers, opaque accounting and other highly suspect arrangements and transactions, the Gülen Organization is able to siphon off millions of dollars from American taxpayers.

Among the book’s key findings:

  • Misuse of taxpayer funds totaling at least $243 million.
  • More than 6,504 H-1B visas to import unqualified Turkish teachers at a public cost of as much as $26 million and lost jobs for American teachers.
  • Nearly 81,000 students enrolled at Gülen schools across 27 states and District of Columbia.
  • Per se human trafficking, as forced tithing threatens Turkish teachers with deportation.
  • Widespread manipulation of state mandated testing, grades and attendance figures.
  • Lobbying and publicly funded trips to Turkey to influence politicians and local officials.

Empire of Deceit describes the process by which Gülen charter schools create a self-sustaining “closed loop” of operations. The Gülen Organization: 1. builds relationships and lays the groundwork for charter school approvals; 2. creates customers by opening charter schools; 3. establishes Charter Management Organizations and vendors that each individual Gülen school hires for services; 4. opens multiple Gülen charter schools in a single region, to make the network “too big to fail.”

Among dozens of whistleblower testimonials in the book detailing the Gülen network, an American teacher from New York said, “When I was hired I had to go through this whole formal interview process. Turkish teachers would just show up at the school out of nowhere and start right away with no formal interview process. Most of the teachers weren’t even certified to teach in New York State. Turkish teachers always got paid more than the American teachers…” (Empire of Deceit, page 633).

Amsterdam & Partners LLP asks federal, state and local authorities to critically analyze the findings of Empire of Deceitand to use the information to investigate the Gülen charter school network in order to protect the interests of American schoolchildren, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

Learn more at www.empireofdeceit.com.

Happening right under our noses because of the charter proponents’ intense desire for “more freedom and less accountability.”

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