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Charter School Advocate, Roswell Mom Will Vote No

North Fulton mother says she found local control was critical after finding problems while her son attended Fulton Science Academy.

Georgia is in the midst of an intense debate over a proposed charter school amendment that will be on the ballot in November. Whatever your position, you need to read my story.

The polls predict this amendment will pass with flying colors, thanks to a misleading ballot question and a majority of funding from outside the state. If this amendment passes, politics and corporations will shape our schools. Groups with multi-faceted objectives are lining up to grab their market share. If a state controlled charter school comes to town, you will have no recourse if there is a problem.

Why Local Control is Critical

The problems I encountered at Fulton Science Academy were not anticipated by our local and state board of education or by educators across the country. Charter schools are new territory and bring new problems, however politicians should never ignore or bully a concerned parent into silence. Jan Jones is the author of the charter school amendment, had not only the power, but also the knowledge needed to create legislation that would protect our community, tax dollars and students.

My son attended Fulton Science Academy charter school, for three years, when I found out about problems that also led to my learning that the school was being operated by followers of the influential and controversial Turkish Imam, Fethullah Gulen.

Fulton Science Academy’s problems were serious and later validated, by an external audit, commissioned by the local school board. My concerns left me fearful to speak up because the Gulen movement is a powerful international organization and because of the federal investigation into the school. Details can be found in this article about Fulton Science Academy in the New York Times, by Stephanie Saul. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/us/audits-for-3-georgia-charter-schools-tied-to-gulen-movement.html)

Turns out the Gulen movement was the least of my worries.

The real problem? Legislators with tunnel vision, hoping to open the Georgia education frontier to more charter groups at any cost. My legislators demonstrated that they will look the other way, as long as, a school has high test scores. What is the impact if a school has received a National Blue Ribbon Award, as did this particular charter school? Well, it is untouchable.

Ultimately, the local school board held Fulton Science Academy accountable and did not renew its charter. The local school board did the right thing, which equaled political suicide. The politicians condemned the local school board’s decision, continue to vilify the board in public and have put legal pressure on the board to reverse their decision.

I understand that the landscape of education is changing and with that rules and regulations need to be adapted. However, it is irresponsible of the Governor and our legislators to lobby for a constitutional amendment that does not stop the known problematic consequences of charter schools.

Gulen?

While detractors like to scream foul when the Gulen connection is pointed out, this is no longer an issue debated in the national circles. Even our local Istanbul Center has been forthcoming about its link to Gulen.

So, if you want to call me names, that is OK. Let me get you started, I am an over-educated, naive, dumb, unassertive mom who sat back for two years and watched a charter school hi-jack our tax dollars, mislead parents and break rules.

(Oh. For those of you who want to call me other names, let me remind you that my son went to FSA for three years, I respect the diverse population of teachers and kids. I sought out that diversity and I am incredulous that the FSA administrators I trusted were not (or maybe could not be) forthcoming about the Gulen affiliation.)

Legislators?

It is all public record. The most vocal supporters of Fulton Science Academy have been Chip Roger, John Albers and Jan Jones, even after they knew about the issues I have described. The photos, the awards, the campaign contributions speak for themselves.

FSA supporters: the wind has shifted and the same politicians that lobbied for the school now state that Fulton Science Academy is a problem created by the local school board. A problem charter school that would never have been approved by a state board. So, much for the blue ribbon. (And the fact that local charter contracts are signed by the school, local BOE and State BOE)

Vote No

This is not a partisan issue. It is about keeping a voice in your community. I am a Republican and Hillsdale College alum, I understand the Republican agenda and I will vote no on this amendment.

Details, including the letter I sent to the North Fulton Delegation can be found at: www.georgiacharterschooldisgrace.com

Dana Teegardin

Roswell

Jill October 17, 2012 at 02:52 PM
What Dana fails to mention in her article is FSA was chartered by Fulton County. It was not the State. State Charters have had no such problems and perform well and above others. The issue was the Fulton County School Board no partnering or governing properly. Why isn't Dana going after the real problem?
Ed U Cate October 17, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Fulton Science Academy was a locally (Fulton County School District) approved Charter school. It seems irrational to blame others for the schoold district's lack of intial oversight and say that other children don't deserve more public school options because the local district failed. I do appreciate the district making the right decision not to renew and the State supporting it's decision.
Dana Teegardin October 17, 2012 at 08:20 PM
FSA's charter is a 3 way contract between the school, Fulton County BOE and the State BOE. The state, the county and parents could not have anticipated the problems that surfaced at this school. However, schools across the country are using Fulton County charter guidelines as a guidepost. Saving their communities millions of dollars.
A Parent October 17, 2012 at 10:40 PM
FSA Cannot be a reason or bad example to vote No for the amendment. What is the failure of Fulton Science Academy? Receiving the National Blue Ribbon Award in the same year its contract has been denied? Is it because it is the 1st Blue Ribbon Charter School of the Georgia? http://so-calledgulencharterschools.blogspot.com/2012/09/so-called-gulen-charter-school-fulton.html If the concern is blurry audit report, FSA’s dispute to that audit report must be read: http://alpharetta.patch.com/articles/fulton-science-academy-responds-to-school-board-audit There is nothing FSA did wrong in past 10 year! Is there a Gulen or Gulen Movement Affiliation? You may read this: http://gulenschools.org/gulen-charter-schools.html After reading all kind of blogs about Gulen Movement affiliation, in my opinion it's a smear campaign recently started about FSA. It seems that those people who write on those blogs are not happy with the success of FSA Charter School. Maybe because of their political view, they are against success of all charter schools not only FSA and they're using Gulen and Gulen Movement. Please remember: No to this amendment, will be saying No to quality education and taking away the choice from parents and students.
RA October 18, 2012 at 12:42 AM
The proposed amendment is about school choice, not about FSA. The situation is unfortunate, but could have happened no matter who the oversight agent is. Clearly, independent of who provides the oversight, it needs to be tighter and there has to be accountability. But at the end of the day, the question is choice. Choice provides parents with greater flexibility and alternatives to choose an educational environment consistent with their student's needs. It also improves accountability.
Sahin Yavuzturk November 05, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Gulen Movement has nothing to do with Charter School. Most of the Turkish supports the movement and there are many Turkish businessmen, academicians and professionals all around the world. Also Gulen Movement (Hizmet Movement) is transparent, more information can be gathered at official web sites like http://www.GulenMovement.ca and http://fgulen.com
MarkMunoz April 15, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Your precious school challenged the audit and what happened? nothing right? Just because the school professes to be "award winning" do not believe it. These Gulen operated charter schools are known for overinflating the waiting lists, bragging about honors, awards and overplaying them with their advertising. But at the end of the day there is nothing special about them except for their Turkocentric curriculum and emphasis on everything Turkish as the other 900 Gulen operated Turkish schools throughout the world. There is no sense in denying your affiliation with your hocaefendit, the FBI has already paid a visit to the State of Georgia, they are well aware of the connection to Ardem Arici who sits in federal prison singing like a canary telling all of Hizmet's secrets to the feds. Kudos is in order to the Turkish investors who formed the company TruGlobe who stood on the courthouse steps purchasing back their school's foreclosed loan of $19 million for a mere $3 million. Got to hand it to you Gulencis you are clever, but predictable. Here is a web site by parents of ex students of Fulton Science Academy students and it is interesting to note that 8 former teachers (American) of Fulton Science Academy have also filed lawsuits against this school. http://georgiacharterschooldisgrace.com/ This site contains hard data and facts about the self-serving mismanagement of Hizmet narcisstic behavior.

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