Unequal treatment for female or non-Gulenist teachers
Page created June 2010; last updated Mar 27, 2011
In a number of Gulen charter schools, there have been complaints regarding the treatment of female teachers.
Other complaints have been that American or non-Gulenist teachers were fired without cause, only to be replaced by Gulenist teachers on H1B visas.
Many teachers believe there is one pay scale and set of rules for the Gulenist teachers, and another for all other teachers.
Some highly qualified American teachers cannot understand why they have not been promoted into administration even after years of service.
The premier website exposing these inequalities is Charter School Watchdog.A newspaper article about Chesapeake Science Point that appeared in the Washington Post on March 30, 2006 entitled "County Takes Over Charter School Police Remove Director From Hanover Campus" raises some of these issues:"In a news briefing Tuesday, Superintendent Nancy Mann and School Board President Konrad Wayson said intervention was necessary to correct mounting problems at the privately run public school. Their investigation began with a union grievance and uncovered evidence, they said, of teacher harassment, seesawing class sizes, spotty attendance by students and teachers, and unkempt facilities. (…..)
Chesapeake was founded by a group that included several Turkish-American scholars, some of them professors at local universities. The director and four teachers were Turkish-American men, while the instructional leader and three remaining teachers were native-born American women.
The three female teachers filed a grievance two months ago with the county teachers union, alleging mistreatment by Omural. They said Omural allegedly retaliated against them. Among other things, the teachers accused Omural of denying them access to the Internet and of treating them as if they were of an inferior sex. Kisha Webster, the dean of students, said Omural narrowed her duties after she spoke out at a meeting of the charter school's board. School leaders deny that. (....)Some teachers have filed civil rights lawsuits against the Gulen charter schools. In every case, it appears that the schools have settled, generally resulting in the complaint documents becoming inaccessible to the public.
The complaint filed in the case of Couch v. Harmony Science Academy can be downloaded below:
Unequal status of women in the Gulen Movement
It seems that the rarity of female leaders in the Gulen charter schools mirrors the near-absence of female leaders in all other Gulenist enterprises.
A number of writers have noted that women have unequal status in the Gulen Movement. In a March 21, 2012 piece entitled "What Scares Turkey’s Women?" which ran in The Daily Beast, Margaret Spiegelman recounted her experiences teaching at Cag Fatih College in Istanbul. She concludes, "Every day, during and after school, teachers at Fatih College are modeling – largely without question – a society where women's behavior is closely monitored, and where they have no voice in leadership. ... If there's no place for women leaders at top-performing schools in Istanbul, where will they be squeezed out next? Do women have a place in Fethullah Gulen’s vision for a fast-changing Turkey?"
Berna Turam who is on the faculty of Northeastern University, broached this issue in her 2007 book "Between Islam and the State," where she wrote:
"Fethullah Gulen states that 'a man can spend the whole year actively. Sometimes he works difficult and heavy jobs. Physiologically and psychologically, he is always stronger. The man is used to having more demanding jobs. ...But a woman must be excluded on certain days during the month. After giving birth, she sometimes cannot be active for two months. She cannot take part in different segments of the society all the time. She cannot travel without her husband, father or brother....The superiority of men compared to women cannot be denied.' "
This text, with a few additional lines, also appears in Turam's 2006 paper "Women and 'Civilizing' Projects: New Bonds between Islamic and Secular Men in Turkey" which was submitted to the American Sociological Association and is readable online.