Testimony at California SBOE about Gülen charter school
On Thursday I went to the California Board of Education to offer public testimony about the California SBOE approval of Magnolia Science Academy Santa Ana. Here is my testimony:
I am Julian Vasquez Heilig, Professor and Education Chair for the California NAACP.
Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have become the nation’s most prominent supporters of privately-managed charter schools and have proposed billions to open more.
The Gülen Organization runs the second largest network of charters— more than 200 schools, teaching over 80,000 students.
Last week, when Melania Trump visited Dove School of Discovery, a Gülen Organization school in Tulsa, a headline read: First Lady Visits a Gülen School Which Prefers to Hire Alien Teachers.
Why? Because all 200 Gülen schools have recruited H1-B visa teachers from Turkey thereby replacing fully qualified American teachers. Pay to play accusations have been made regarding these teachers.
In 2017, the California NAACP passed a resolution concerning Gülen charter schools. We call for federal, state and local authorities to conduct independent financial investigations of California Gülen Organization schools, because prior audits in other states have shown a pattern of accounting irregularities.
In fact, a former principal of Gülen Oakland’s BayTech school accused the Gülen Organization of using the school as a piggy bank. The principal is also accused of financial impropriety and fled to Australia.
After our resolution, by invitation, I visited Magnolia Science Academy-3 in Southern California. I was specifically disappointed by the class sizes and curriculum.
Considering our resolution, and the fact the California State Board of Education (SBOE) authorized charters have a nearly 40% failure rate over time (through 2018, 18 of 48 SBOE authorized charters had failed or closed), we concur with the local district and urge denial of the Magnolia Science Academy Santa Ana charter.
The SBOE voted 7-1 to reapprove the Gülen charter in Santa Ana.
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Oh, and this happened to my face…