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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:34 PM

Turkish charter schools, Harmony, finalist for 30 million from Race to the Top federal money.

I think this is wrong. I think public schools are losing great amounts of money as not only federal money but local taxpayer money as well are going to charter schools. This 29 plus million is going to these schools that appear to be connected to the Turkish Gulen movement.

Here is a brief summary from Education Week.

District Race to Top Winners Turn to Implementation

The first federal Race to the Top competition that reaches down to the local level leaves most large, urban districts out of the winners’ circle in favor of charter schools, midsize systems, and two large consortia of school districts—all of which must now turn to implementing proposals that collectively have won them $400 million.

The 16 winners, announced last month by the U.S. Department of Education, beat out more than 350 other applicants and include three charter school organizations, traditional districts such as Carson City, Nev., and Guilford County, N.C., and a group of 22 rural districts from Kentucky.


Here is a list of the finalists from Ed.gov.

Race to the Top District Applications Winners

It is in chart form. Harmony Science Academy, TX, will receive almost 30 million dollars.

Here is more info on the Gulen connected charter schools from the Washington Post.

Largest charter network in U.S.: Schools tied to Turkey

The largest charter school network in the United States is operated by people in and associated with the Gulen Movement (GM), a secretive and controversial Turkish religious sect. With 135 schools enrolling more than 45,000 students, this network is substantially larger than KIPP, the well-known charter management organization with only 109 schools. A lack of awareness about this situation persists despite it being addressed in a national paper and in articles about Gulen charter schools in Utah (also here), Arizona, (also here), Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania (also here), Indiana, Oklahoma (and here), Texas (also here), Arkansas, Louisiana (also here), New Jersey, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was also reported that the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education are investigating practices at these schools.

..."The Gulen Movement originated in Turkey in the late 1960s and has become increasingly powerful. Its members are followers of Fethullah Gulen (b. 1941) a self-exiled Turkish preacher who has been living on a secluded compound in rural Pennsylvania since 1998. Members call themselves hizmet, meaning “volunteer services” movement. The GM conducts four primary activities around the world: a media empire, business organizations, an enormous number of Turkish culture-promoting and interfaith dialog organizations, and a network of schools in over 100 countries, a large portion of which are U.S. charter schools.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the GM began to establish schools outside of Turkey, first in the newly established republics of Central Asia and then beyond. One expert noted that the “...worldwide extent of Fethullah Gulen’s educational network testifies to the internationalist, even imperialist, nature of the movement.” Last year an analyst viewed the raison d'être for the schools “spreading across the globe” in this way: “Students will learn how to speak Turkish, the national anthem, how to be the 'right kind of Muslim', etc. In essence, it buys (the GM) loyalty.”


The New York Times also covered this group of charter schools.

Charter Schools Tied to Turkey Grow in Texas

The secret lay in the meteoric rise and financial clout of the Cosmos Foundation, a charter school operator founded a decade ago by a group of professors and businessmen from Turkey. Operating under the name Harmony Schools, Cosmos has moved quickly to become the largest charter school operator in Texas, with 33 schools receiving more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds.

While educating schoolchildren across Texas, the group has also nurtured a close-knit network of businesses and organizations run by Turkish immigrants. The businesses include not just big contractors like TDM but also a growing assemblage of smaller vendors selling school lunches, uniforms, after-school programs, Web design, teacher training and even special education assessments.

Some of the schools’ operators and founders, and many of their suppliers, are followers of Fethullah Gulen, a charismatic Turkish preacher of a moderate brand of Islam whose devotees have built a worldwide religious, social and nationalistic movement in his name. Gulen followers have been involved in starting similar schools around the country — there are about 120 in all, mostly in urban centers in 25 states, one of the largest collections of charter schools in America.

..."But an examination by The New York Times of the Harmony Schools in Texas casts light on a different area: the way they spend public money. And it raises questions about whether, ultimately, the schools are using taxpayer dollars to benefit the Gulen movement — by giving business to Gulen followers, or through financial arrangements with local foundations that promote Gulen teachings and Turkish culture.


Here is the website of Harmony Science Academy's FAQ. There is a response by Arne Duncan which troubles me.

Why does Harmony recruit teachers from outside of the United States?

At Harmony Public Schools, we are committed to providing the very best education for our students, and we recruit international teachers within and outside the U.S. Today, Texas and America have a shortage of qualified math and science teachers. This unfortunate situation was highlighted in a January 2011 report from the U.S. Department of Education, which identified specific areas of deficiency (including math and science) and called for the hiring of teachers in those areas as rapidly as possible. Secretary Duncan also says, "Schools across the nation are in need of a diverse set of talented teachers, especially in our big cities and rural areas, and especially in the areas of Math, Science, Technology, Special Education, and English Language Learning."


That is the sound of our Secretary of Education for a Democratic president...just plain lying.

I suggest that someone talk to the unemployed America teachers of math, science, technology, special education, and ELL.

That is Arne going along with the same kind of propaganda that has demeaned our teachers and education system so they could turn it over to private companies.

Just imagine. Almost 30 million of our taxpayer money is going to a charter school with ties to another country.

Just imagine what that money would do for school systems being defunded and neighborhood schools being closed.

All it took to allow the steamroller to keep going was both parties being on board with the corporatization of education.

No, I am not a whiner, not a troll, not an Obama-hater. I am retired teacher with a breaking heart at what is rapidly being done to our schools.









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Reply Turkish charter schools, Harmony, finalist for 30 million from Race to the Top federal money. (Original post)
madfloridian Jan 2013 OP
madfloridian Jan 2013 #1
sabrina 1 Jan 2013 #26
PETRUS Jan 2013 #2
leftstreet Jan 2013 #3
madfloridian Jan 2013 #4
amandabeech Jan 2013 #5
madrchsod Jan 2013 #6
madfloridian Jan 2013 #7
amandabeech Jan 2013 #9
madfloridian Jan 2013 #10
amandabeech Jan 2013 #17
madfloridian Jan 2013 #18
amandabeech Jan 2013 #22
KamaAina Jan 2013 #8
madfloridian Jan 2013 #11
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #24
madfloridian Jan 2013 #33
Starry Messenger Jan 2013 #34
madfloridian Jan 2013 #12
madfloridian Jan 2013 #13
Jefferson23 Jan 2013 #14
madfloridian Jan 2013 #15
Jefferson23 Jan 2013 #16
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #31
LeftInTX Jan 2013 #19
madfloridian Jan 2013 #20
DearHeart Jan 2013 #21
jsr Jan 2013 #23
madfloridian Jan 2013 #25
sabrina 1 Jan 2013 #29
madfloridian Jan 2013 #30
hay rick Jan 2013 #27
madfloridian Jan 2013 #28
madfloridian Jan 2013 #32

Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:53 PM

1. Sharon Higgins of Charter School Scandals has done great research on these schools.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:13 AM

26. I remember reading about this 'charasmatic' Turkish preacher who has apparently

a lot of influence over those awarded US Tax Dollars that is supposed to go to the Public System, to operate these charter schools here.

This needs a lot more exposure, and Arne Duncan needs to go. It is so discouraging that this man is the choice of a Democratic President for Sec. of Education. Our system is failing so badly since Bush instituted the failed NCLB and I had hoped against hope that once Bush was gone and we succeeded in electing Democrats, we would get rid of this dreadful failure of a program. Instead it has become worse.

I remember Bush's 'faith based initiative' sending the Left into a state of permanent outrage. Well, semi-permanent obviously since now they have become silent as Obama, rather than ending it, only enhanced it.

Thanks for this important OP, Madfloridian.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:00 PM

2. I read and rec lots of your threads but rarely comment.

So you might not know how much I appreciate your work. Thank you. I know it takes time and energy, and I even see you taking flak for it.

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:04 PM

3. Ditto



DURec

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:05 PM

4. I appreciate that.

It's just so scary to me that people won't fight to keep public education because it means being critical of policy.

When there is nowhere to run when charters and private schools won't keep you, I guess people will wake up then.

Thanks for kind words.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:10 PM

5. This is just disgusting.

Why Obama keeps Arne, I'll never understand.

Well, maybe I do.

Amanda,

who grew up in a public school NEA teacher family (both sides).

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:14 PM

6. why? because they are friends and share the same values

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Response to madrchsod (Reply #6)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:24 PM

7. Just think how many awful school reforms are based in Chicago.

Just think Rahm, Daley, Huberman, Arne, Obama....

They took an unsuccessful system there and spread it throughout the country.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:30 PM

9. Shoulda posted the sarcasm tag.

Rahm and Daley are corporate slime.

I'll say nothing more.

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:31 PM

10. I knew exactly what you meant.

Right away.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #10)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:02 PM

17. Your usual great job, madfloridian.



Right back atcha. Keep up the good work!

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Response to amandabeech (Reply #17)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:03 PM

18. Thank you.

Same to you.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #18)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 08:45 PM

22. You are very, very welcome! n/t

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:26 PM

8. Someone be sure to tell the fundies

this is their worst nightmare. Federally funded religious madrassas are supposed to be Christian, dammit!

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 04:42 PM

11. Teacher Man, an article by late Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt (1930 - 2009) won the Pulitzer Prize for "Angela’s Ashes." "Teacher Man: A Memoir" is an account of his experiences as a New York City teacher.

PS: Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and all the others put together, don't come close to approaching McCourt's brilliance of mind and understanding of humanity.


Teacher Man

Stop Hijacking the Education with Hijinks

by Frank McCourt, January 14th, 2008

At what point in American history did politicians hijack public education? They think nothing of barging into classrooms across the country, shunting teachers aside and reading to children who wonder who they are in the first place, wonder who is this person boring us to death with his prose drone?

The kids are primed well in advance, told this person coming here tomorrow is very, very important, that they better behave themselves and show respect to this very important person who will be reading to them, this person taking time out from a hectic schedule to show his/her interest in education.

But teachers are fair game. Here come the press people, the camera operators, the advance men or women and, hold it right there outside the classroom for the big smile and the apt comment on the state of the schools, the solon himself, today’s captivating reader, the one who will show the teacher how it’s done.

Politician enters room, acknowledges existence of teacher, limp handshake, faint smile, head nod. Some teachers are flattered, of course. They’ll be right up there on TV tonight, and tomorrow the kids will rush in all excited after seeing themselves and their teacher on the news.

Oh, wow!

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:10 PM

24. I love that book.

 

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #24)

Tue Jan 15, 2013, 06:07 PM

33. I need to read it. I have meant to, never did.

Think I will order it.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #33)

Wed Jan 16, 2013, 01:10 AM

34. :)

 

I hope you do, Mad! It was my bible for my first three years of teaching. I come from a large, poor Irish-American family with a kind of checkered path to respectability like McCourt, so I really relate to it.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:08 PM

12. Our tax money also goes to a network of Turkish building contractors.

At first, Harmony Schools used a mix of local American and Turkish immigrant contractors. But as it has grown, especially in the rush of new schools, Harmony has increasingly relied on its Turkish network.

In response to questions, Harmony provided a list showing that local American contractors had been awarded 13 construction and renovation jobs over the years. But a review of contracts since January 2009 — 35 contracts and $82 million worth of work — found that all but 3 jobs totaling about $1.5 million went to Turkish-owned businesses.

TDM, builder of the new San Antonio school, is one of several companies that stand out — for the size of their contracts, their seemingly overnight success or both. One of TDM’s owners, records and interviews show, is Kemal Oksuz, president of the Turquoise Council for Americans and Eurasians, an umbrella group over several foundations established by Gulen followers. Since TDM was formed in November 2009, its work has involved only Harmony Schools and a job at the Turquoise Council headquarters, according to a company accountant.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/education/07charter.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:24 PM

13. Public schools in TX lay off staff, cut programs, etc while charters get millions. Video, article.

http://www.kvue.com/news/Federal-grants-put-funding-into-hands-of-some-school-districts-184847831.html

"When Texas lawmakers slashed education funding in the last session, school districts took a hit. Many of them were forced to close programs, lay off employees or shut down campuses.

With state funding running low, some Texas districts looked to a federal program called Race to the Top for help. In its first year to accept applications from individual school districts, educators took advantage.

"They need something to happen. Austin needs something to happen to keep us competitive," Rae Nwosu with Education Austin said.

About 117 applications came into the Race to the Top program from Texas districts alone, including Austin. But the competition was tough. About 372 applications came in nationwide, but only 16 won grants."

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:28 PM

14. It's creepy how Republicans do not complain about Obama when it comes to Arnie Duncan.

Race To the Toilet...that is what I call his initiative.

K&R

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:29 PM

15. Well, it's their policy.

When Bush tried this stuff, we fought him. I think Arne has hurt our education system so much in 4 years it may not recover.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 06:40 PM

16. Yes, and only a democrat could get away with this policy as it stands...Duncan is much worse imo. n/

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #14)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 04:25 AM

31. +1

 

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:18 PM

19. I often wonder how many people know that tax dollars are funding Turkish schools?

I told my dad about this and he thought the Turkish school was just a private school. I kept trying to explain it to him, but he refused to understand it.

(We're Armenian, so if any old person could be convinced, he could)


My husband is a public high school principal. He says the administrators at these Harmony Schools earn paychecks equivalent to corporate CEOs.

I wish America would wake up. This is just another case of privatization gone awry.

I live in San Antonio, Texas.

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Response to LeftInTX (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:23 PM

20. People find it hard to accept, most don't understand.

I know that writing about what's happening is boring stuff to read, and it's hard to keep it in simple language.

To top it off the only place anyone's talking about it is on the internet. Even sites like MSNBC won't touch it.

There have been such prolonged attacks on public schools and teachers, esp. since Reagan....that it's easy for people to think they are getting what they deserve..

What they don't understand is that charter schools will not keep all students, and there could soon be no place for them to go.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 07:43 PM

21. This is just shameful!! I wonder if any of these parents sending their kids to these schools

know that their taxes are funding "Turkish" schools? Seriously warped (understatement!) that we cannot fund our public schools with this money, instead of it going to charter schools that are run by foreign people. These people are, probably unknowingly, sending their children to schools with "international" teachers, run by a Turkish religious sect, how is this not being reported Nationally?? And how do people send their children to private charter schools when they have no idea who is really running it??


This raises red flags for me! Thanks for posting this! Passing this on!

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 10:42 PM

23. The Gulen connection has received more recent publicity:

http://articles.philly.com/2011-03-20/news/29148147_1_gulen-schools-gulen-followers-charter-schools

U.S. charter-school network with Turkish link draws federal attention
March 20, 2011 | By Martha Woodall and Claudio Gatti

Fethullah Gulen is a major Islamic political figure in Turkey, but he lives in self-imposed exile in a Poconos enclave and gained his green card by convincing a federal judge in Philadelphia that he was an influential educational figure in the United States.

As evidence, his lawyer pointed to the charter schools, now more than 120 in 25 states, that his followers - Turkish scientists, engineers, and businessmen - have opened, including Truebright Science Academy in North Philadelphia and another charter in State College, Pa.

The schools are funded with millions of taxpayer dollars. Truebright alone receives more than $3 million from the Philadelphia School District for its 348 pupils. Tansu Cidav, the acting chief executive officer, described it as a regular public school.

But federal agencies - including the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education - are investigating whether some charter school employees are kicking back part of their salaries to a Muslim movement founded by Gulen known as Hizmet, or Service, according to knowledgeable sources.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/largest-charter-network-in-us-schools-tied-to-turkey/2012/03/23/gIQAoaFzcS_blog.html

Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 03/27/2012
Largest charter network in U.S.: Schools tied to Turkey
By Sharon Higgins

The largest charter school network in the United States is operated by people in and associated with the Gulen Movement (GM), a secretive and controversial Turkish religious sect. With 135 schools enrolling more than 45,000 students, this network is substantially larger than KIPP, the well-known charter management organization with only 109 schools. A lack of awareness about this situation persists despite it being addressed in a national paper and in articles about Gulen charter schools in Utah (also here), Arizona, (also here), Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania (also here), Indiana, Oklahoma (and here), Texas (also here), Arkansas, Louisiana (also here), New Jersey, Georgia, and North Carolina. It was also reported that the FBI and the Departments of Labor and Education are investigating practices at these schools.

The concerns raised about the charter schools in the GM network have related to questionable admissions practices; the channeling of school funds to close associates; abuse of contractors; participation in biased, GM-created competitions; incidents of bribing; using the schools to generate political connections; science fair projects being done by teachers; unfair hiring and termination practices; and more. Still, authorizers continue to approve charter applications, ill-informed parents continue to use them, and taxpayers keep funding the schools – all without much discussion.

The first Gulen charter school was opened in 1999. U.S. officials have known about the movement’s involvement in charter schools since at least 2006 when our Istanbul consulate noticed that a large number of Turkish men, suspected to be GM-affiliated, were seeking visas to work at charter schools. A company specializing in geopolitical analysis reported in 2010 that the GM was running “...more than 90 charter public schools in at least 20 states.”

Board members of Gulen charter schools are primarily Turkish or Turkic and often can be tied to other Gulenist organizations. GM schools around the world emphasize math, science, and technology, and always provide Turkish cultural instruction, as these are the subjects favored by Fethullah Gulen. Turkish or Turkic individuals, almost all male, are imported (referred to as “international” teachers) to teach those subjects and serve as school administrators. They sometimes transfer to other schools, but only those within the movement’s network. Around the world, local teachers are usually hired for elementary grades and the non-Gulen favored subjects. The charter schools have been criticized for importing so many teachers, but defend their practice by claiming that they are unable to find qualified Americans.

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Response to jsr (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:39 PM

25. Kudos to Sharon Higgins.

She really put herself on the line for this.

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Response to jsr (Reply #23)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:51 AM

29. Shameful. The War on Teachers continues. So they are taking money from the American

tax-payers, meant to fund the Public School system and they bring in foreign teachers who they pay far less, and the American people are enriching these people who we do not even know are qualified to even be in the business of education.

How has this been allowed to continue, and where is the US Media while all this is going on!

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #29)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:27 AM

30. Yes, where IS our media while this is happening.

Good question, Sabrina.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:24 AM

27. Thanks for an informative post.

First time I've heard about this. K&R.

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Response to hay rick (Reply #27)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 12:40 AM

28. You are welcome. It infuriates me to see 30 million going to them.

I have trouble understanding why others aren't infuriated also. I guess it's never really made clear.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 09:26 AM

32. And this in LBN today about an Oregon charter chain and 20 million dollar fraud.

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2013/01/oregon_charter_school_founders.html

"Tim King and Norm Donohoe, who ran a chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools across small-town Oregon from their headquarters in Clackamas, scammed the state out of $17 million and must repay that plus $2.7 million more, the state said in a court filing this week.

The legal claim, brought Thursday by the Oregon Department of Justice in Marion County Circuit Court, accuses the pair of racketeering, money laundering and other fraud from 2007 to 2010.

King and Donohoe, who were the director and president, respectively, of a nonprofit they named EdChoices, submitted false, incomplete and misleading records about how many students were enrolled in the schools and how they were spending the state's money, state prosecutors say in the complaint. "

It's going to keep happening because it is Arne's policy, and Democrats are fearful of speaking up about it. More charter schools....spoken goal of both Arne Duncan and President Obama.

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