Saturday, May 28, 2011

Concept Refutes the Allegations of Operating Gulen Charter Schools

Here is the Concept Schools' refutation of recent stories about its charter schools of being gulen charter schools as introduced in local media in Ohio. They say that Concept operates Gulen charter schools by importing international teachers mostly from Turkey to the US. These gulen charter schools teachers, according to them, are coming here by obtaining working visas. That means, for them, that these gulen charter schools' teachers are stealing Americans' jobs. This has been answered before in many places including this blog. But, they heat it up again and again, and serve it before the American public. The fact is that just ten percent of Concept teachers are international teachers. It is this simple.

It is also hard to understand why they label Concept-managed charter schools as gulen charter schools as if they were operated by Mr. Fethullah Gulen. One thinks that there must be a secret agenda here. Anyway.

Here is what Concept says all about these:

Concept's rebuttal of recent news stories in Ohio
May 19, 2011
To our Faculty, Parents, Friends and Supporters:
Recently, there have been news stories on local channels in Ohio about Concept managed schools; Horizon Science Academies and Noble Academies. Those stories use Ron Regan’s story on Cleveland’s Channel 5 that aired on Monday, May 16, 2011 as a reference. As often happens with television news, those stories, including Ron Regan’s Channel 5 story, are edited in a way that, in our view, mislead viewers about the operation of Horizon Science Academies in Ohio. As those stories seem to revolve around a few same issues I am writing to set the record straight and clarify any confusion raised by those reports.
First, such reports attempt to sensationalize the repayment by Horizon Science Academy employees of certain immigration fees and expenses as documented in various school audits.
As most people know, charter schools in Ohio are audited annually by the Auditor of State’s Office. Back in 2001 when Betty Montgomery was the Auditor of State, several Horizon Science Academies voluntarily disclosed to the Auditor’s Office certain expenses associated with the immigration of math and science teachers from Turkey who were going to teach at our new schools in Ohio. Horizon Science Academies were founded by Turkish mathematicians and scientists who wanted to raise the bar for math and science education in Ohio. At the time, there was a nationwide shortage of math and science teachers, so we recruited some highly qualified math and science teachers from Turkey. Just as the Cleveland Municipal School District did when it recruited teachers from India in the 1990s and paid for their travel and immigration expenses, so did we. Additionally, we paid these expenses for the spouses and children of our new employees, just like any private company would. The Auditor of State’s Office permitted the expenses for the employees but not their dependents. Audit reports from 2001 show that three Horizon Science Academies, Cleveland High School, Toledo High School, and Columbus High Schools, paid these expenses for 19 employees and some of their family members totaling up to about $13,000. All of these funds were reimbursed at the time the Auditor’s Office made its ruling, not recently as suggested by Mr. Regan and other reporters. Some stories do not even mention the fact that these funds were reimbursed on a timely and swift manner once the auditors brought it to our attention.
Second, these reports raise concerns about hiring out of state teachers and the issuance of H1B visas to some of our employees. These visas are issued to certain workers with skills in short supply in the United States. The Federal Government determines the criteria for issuing these visas. The Horizon Science Academies simply took advantage of a federal visa program at a time when math and science teachers were in short supply. Currently, less than 9% of the workforce in all of the Horizon Science Academies are participating in this government authorized program. Whenever it makes sense, Horizon Science Academies hire Ohio teachers and support staff.
Third, Mr. Regan’s report on Channel 5 Cleveland, which is used as a reference in other stories, included an interview with a disgruntled former employee named Mary Addi who was terminated in 2009 after she was discovered working a second job on company time. She later filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, which was investigated and denied.
Fourth, such reports raise concerns about the Horizon Science Academy in Dayton, which is leasing its facility from an Ohio limited liability company that is owned by a Turkish businessman who was willing to take a risk on the development of this property as a school, when Dayton area banks and others were not. The Dayton school leases the property for $3.78 a square foot, which is a bargain compared to medium grade office space in Dayton, which is leased for $10 a square foot or more. News stories that make this sound like hundreds of thousand of dollars go oversees is nothing but part of an agenda of sensationalizing their stories.
Fifth, some of those reports raise concerns about borrowed money that was repaid to individuals overseas. When our first school opened in Cleveland in 1999 there were financial challenges. The State of Ohio does not provide any facilities funding for charter schools and banks as a rule will not lend to start up charter schools. After attempting to obtain funding in Cleveland, the founder of Horizon Science Academies, Taner Ertekin, reached out to businessmen in Turkey to find short-term non-interest bearing loans. The school paid the loans back. A portion of the loan ($36,000) was paid back via wire transfer. The Auditors never raised any questions about the loan. Instead, the Auditors questioned the method of repayment. We provided the loan documents to the Mr. Regan at Channel 5 Cleveland. It is ridiculous to present this repayment of a non-interest bearing loan as “practice of spending Ohio school tax dollars overseas” and is far from objective and true journalism.
There are 17 Horizon Science Academies and 2 Noble Academies in Ohio. Together they educate about 5000 students each year. More than 95% of Horizon Science Academy students graduate from high school 100% of those students are accepted to college. Our results speak for themselves with Blue Ribbon Awards, “Excellent” and “Excellent with Distinction” ratings, demand by parents and students, and most importantly 100% college acceptance for many years.
Charter schools including ours are high regulated with increased accountability and autonomy. Annual audits by the state auditors and ongoing reporting and oversight is in place. All of the Concept managed schools are not-for-profit organizations with transparency. All of our records and documentations are available for public review. We take pride in the diversity of our community and are proud of every single of our employees, as they are the ones making unprecedented differences in urban communities. What has made successful is our uncompromising focus on our students not on adults as a diverse community. We assure everyone that we will continue doing so and not let anything take away our focus from student achievement.
Should you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via e-mail, or phone, 224 388-9953 (cell).
Salim Ucan
Vice President


  1. With your dedication, I am sure HSA will accomplish more. The negativities such as recent news in Channel 5 should not discourage you but rather unite you all closer and to make you work harder. Your agenda is to benefit the children who would otherwise be left behind to wither away without hope or inspiration within a failing educational system. The agenda of the news and those who make up malicious propaganda is five minutes of fame. Please have confidence, you shall prevail. Their five minutes are almost over. Your tradition is now rooted in the hearts and minds of many.

  2. There are 19 community schools in the State of Ohio under Concept Schools network. 84 percent of Concept's Ohio schools ranking in the category of continuous improvement or better. Statewide, just 50 percent of Ohio's 399 charter schools won such a ranking. Twenty-one percent, or four of Concept's 19 schools won the ranking of Excellent, the highest ranking under the Ohio Department of Education's report card scale, while 31 percent, or six of Concept's 19 schools, won a ranking of Effective. That is why many parents send their children to these schools.They recognize them as the best education possible for their children.

  3. "....Turkish mathematicians and scientists who wanted to raise the bar for math and science education in Ohio."

    What would possibly motivate Turkish mathematicians and scientists to want to raise the bar for math and science education in Ohio? Does Ohio inspire them in some special way? Are they rabid fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes? Have they seen documentaries of Ohio children living in squalor and despair?

    Why are Turkish mathematicians and scientists not teaching Turkish students in Turkey using Turkish taxpayer dollars?

    American taxpayer dollars going to hire Turkish high school teachers on H1B visas during one of the worst economic downturns in our naiton's history? I don't think so.

    All elementary, middle, and high schools receiving public funding should employ American citizens or green-card holders; and, they should emphasize American history (Washington, Lincoln, Tubman, Roosevelt, Reagan, and Martin Luther King, not Attaturk), celebrate English/American literature (the works of Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Hemmingway, etc.), and focus on a keen understanding of the U.S. constitution. That doesn't mean that Turkish can't be studied as a second language, just that even educational institutions affiliated with the Gulen movement have to teach American culture using American staff.


Plese let us know what you think about the issue of the charter schools allegedly linked to Fethullah Gulen and thus labelled as Gulen charter schools.