Charter School Advocate and Mom Will Vote No

Local 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 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.


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.)


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


L A Hays October 18, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Although short on details about specific problems and issues, Ms. Teegardin's article did arouse my curiosity about Fethullah Gulen . It's worth the time to read the referenced article in the New York Times and follow some of the links included in that article, which suggests why we need to be informed about the marriage of politics and money potentially tucked away in the charter school amendment. I'm reading "Now You See It" by Cathy N. Davidson; she states that many of the problems of our public schools are caused by the schools still being locked into an early 20th century model of preparing students to work in factories. That model no longer works for our highly technical society; today's factories are fast food and call centers. But rather than virtually dumping our public school system in favor of charter schools, we need to put our education resources to work reforming public schools so our children are prepared to work in a rapidly evolving technical society. Better the devil you know, than one you don't; vote "no" on the charter school amendment.
L A Hays October 18, 2012 at 12:59 PM
P.S. Also read Ms. Teegardin's well-articulated letter to the North Fulton delegation, referenced at the end of her article.
MarkMunoz October 21, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Ms. Teegardin is an example of how American parents and citizens are fighting back to the tyranny of the Gulen Movement. They are practicing the same type of control worldwide as they do in the country of Turkiye (Turkey) Gulen has instructed his followers to "work into the arteries of the system, until you reach all power centers" Gulen's followers, have managed this nicely via: politics, education, police, judicary system, media and now in Turkey the Military. How far will they get in the USA? Its up to you America. http://www.gulenpoliticians.blogspot.com
Cheryl Krichbaum October 22, 2012 at 11:59 PM
Although I agree with closing Fulton Science Academy, I do not see the connection to the charter amendment. This situation happened without the amendment to a school approved locally by the school district. That system will continue to exist. And one of the great things about charter schools, no matter how they are approved, they can be closed and can be closed much faster than traditional public schools. We need to be watchdogs of all schools.
A Parent October 25, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I think the purpose of the people who are labeling successful charter schools as Gulen Charter Schools is to defame Fethullah Gulen and successful charter schools. As it was mentioned on CBS's 60 Minutes that nationwide Newsweek Magazine listed some of those two successful charter schools as miracle schools of the nation. They're combining those schools as Gulen Charter Schools, because they're successful. Those people who are actually against good and goodness picking Fethullah Gulen's name as a person to mention with those successful charter schools. Whoever they are, they don't like Fethullah Gulen because of his teachings and positive contribution to humanity in 21st century. In the other hand Turkish oriented people are not the only people operating charter schools. Why are those people picking only charter schools operated by Turkish origin professionals? After reading all blogs written about Gulen Charter Schools Myth, in my opinion, those bloggers have a different political view so they don't like all Charter schools, not only FSA. http://so-calledgulencharterschools.blogspot.com/ http://gulenschools.org/ http://fethullahgulenhizmetmovement.blogspot.com/ http://gulen4universalpeace.blogspot.com/
MarkMunoz October 25, 2012 at 04:13 PM
The typical predictable Gulenist comments, denying the undeniable connections to Gulen and the schools worldwide. Yet at the same time stating "Gulen promotes world peace, dialogue and tolerance" Yet fail to give ONE SPECIFIC example of his deeds or "fruits of his labor" The truth be known is the Gulenists stay in American education is comming to an end. Parading around the ancient photos of a 1 time meeting with the late Pope John Paul or other religious leaders means nothing except the Gulenists are particularly media savvy (except very predictable) They need to go back to Turkey and fix the human rights record of most jailed journalists and fix Turkey's schools which are ranked below standard worldwide, before they profess to know what is right for American children. Read the latest "WHo is Fethullah Gulen" http://www.city-journal.org/2012/22_4_fethullah-gulen.html
A Parent October 26, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Dear MarkMunoz or Marry Addi, After reading all blogs and comments around Gulen Charter Schools Myth, we know you are an unhappy staff member had a bad experience at a charter school. Now, it seems you are trying to get revenge from that charter school by cooperating with those bloggers who have a different political view. Gulen is just an argument for your grand ambitions. According to your revealed profile on blogs and comments on the internet (even on 60 Minutes), you're from Ohio. I think you should stop manipulating people who live in Georgia. If teaching is very important for you; you should start looking for a teaching job (it seems you have not gotten yet, since you have time to comment in the middle of the day). If you have a teaching job now, you should focus on your teaching if you really care about the quality of education. Be little positive and make some positive contribution to the future of this world such as Fethullah Gulen.
Roswell Parent October 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM
I would be happy to "put our education resources to work reforming public schools so our children are prepared to work in a rapidly evolving technical society." Unfortunately, I've seen very few examples of where that's worked. Change will take decades if we expect it to come from the people who are working within the "system". Just like in business, we need a "disruptive technology" to change the paradigm of education. Charters are the closest thing I know to that, though there are other hopeful ways... like the Khan Academy on YouTube. I'm voting YES.
MarkMunoz January 06, 2013 at 07:03 AM
Such as Fetullah Mohammed Gulen the 5th grade graduate that you still give no specifics of his so called contributions to humanity. Since this article you are now losing the high school and are being sued by Wells Fargo congratulations!


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