Someone via Whitney Tilson via Russo:
I was surprised in some way to find this in the NY Times: a very long article with only a brief mention of academic achievement and no mention of their long waiting lists. Substitute "Canadian" for "Turkish" and "Christian" for "Islam" and if you read it again no one would care. This is another article more focused on jobs for adults and not outcomes for kids with a little xenophobia thrown in. These schools don't cost the taxpayer any more money than another charter school (and less than a public school) and 16 of 19 carry the state's highest rating with above average SAT scores.
Really? Nobody would care if a Canadian Christian sect had quietly established the largest charter school network in the country and was importing teachers on dubious work visas, funneling money to Canadian contractors and requiring kids to lipsync Cowboy Junkies and New Pornographers songs? I bet that would have made the news a lot more quickly, because then Americans would find the story at least slightly comprehensible.
To the extent that Americans know anything at all about Turkey, we have a positive opinion:
An April 2009 CNN poll2 found that, despite past tensions between Turkey and the George W. Bush administration over the Iraq war, a solid majority of Americans have a positive view of Turkey. 61 percent of Americans “looked favourably upon Turkey,” while 34 percent had an unfavourable opinion.
But if a group of people from one country quietly start a bunch of schools in another country -- that's news, period.
More importantly, however, is the fact that the Gulen group may just have been the first to exploit the political economy of charter schools, and there may be many more to come. This is and will continue to be a serious issue for charter advocates. Are they really ok with any kind of school that raises test scores at a low price?
This story has been under-reported because it doesn't fit anyone's preconceived storyline, but as it comes out, it isn't going to go away.