Today’s Times has a long investigation of charter schools sponsored by the Gulen movement, a charismatic, moderate form of Islam that originated in Turkey. The story details lax oversight of public money, questionable awarding of contracts to favored Turkish contractors, and importing cheap labor on H1-B visas.
It’s too early to tell if these schools are doing better than public schools, but why shouldn’t they? Unlike a regular public school, they can import cheap, motivated labor on a special visa arrangement. And, like every other church school, they can cherry pick a pool of motivated children of engaged parents from the local Gulen mosque, rounding out enrollment with a few non-Gulen kids from the local community. The only difference is that we’re financing this church school with our tax dollars. It’s a noble experiment in paying for something that would otherwise have happened for free.