Pioneer Academy of Science -
Evidence of affiliation with the Gulen Movement
and the Gulen charter school chain
Page created summer 2010; last updated Oct 27, 2012
Pioneer Academy of Science is a private Gulen school in New Jersey. While it is not a publicly-funded charter school, it is mentioned here because of its ties to several Gulen charter schools. As of summer 2012, the school was located in Clifton but was looking to expand to a larger building at another site. There was some controversy over zoning because the school plans to build many dormitory rooms. Pioneer is an elite private school charging high tuition (as of 2012, ranging from $7000 to $16000 with additional fees). A sizeable fraction of its students are international and required to board at the school. Metropolitan Education, a New York-based corporation that recruits international students to study in the US, has recruited for Pioneer Academy of Science as well as two other private Gulen schools, Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut and Brooklyn Amity School in New York.
A branch of the school, called Pioneer Academy of Science South Jersey, is now defunct.
Pioneer Academy of Science is a member of the Turkic American Alliance, the umbrella organization for the Gulen Movement in the United States.
Pioneer Academy of Science was the subject of a 2012 PhD dissertation in the field of education at Marywood University by Erkan Acar (a.k.a. Ercan Acar), entitled "A case study of a Gulen-inspired School in the United States."
The following quote is from Ilhan Kaya's PhD dissertation entitled "Shifting Turkish American Identity Formations in the United States," Florida State University, 2003:
"Both the Brooklyn Amity School and the Pioneer Academy of Science were founded by a religious group that focuses on education. The schools are part of a large movement that opened hundreds of schools in Turkey and Central Asia. The movement is headed by Fethullah Gulen and focuses on education, modernity, and working within the legal system of each country without sacrificing Islamic precepts."
Pioneer Academy of Science is mentioned here and here on Fethullah Gulen's website. (Invariably, only Gulen schools are mentioned on this site.)
Pioneer Academy of Science students participated in the Turkish Language Olympics, which are run by the Gulen Movement. "Laila Raslan from Pioneer Academy of Science was second in the Turkish language song category. (….)
In the second language Turkish poem category Laila Raslan from Pioneer Academy of Science came in first, from the same school Natasa Awari was second. (…) In the native language Turkish poem category …. Hafsa Turkyolu from Pioneer Academy of Science was the third."
The Gulenist media outlet Ebru News has featured Pioneer Academy of Science in several reports, including this one about exchange students from Taiwan. The Taiwanese students were from the Kivam Junior High School in Taiwan, another school run by the Gulen Movement (note for example how the school website mentions students' participation in the Turkish Language Olympiad).
Ebru News: "The 'Pioneer Academy of Science,' also known as the "Turkish College" in Clifton, New Jersey ….."
Youtube user "GulenMovement" has uploaded several videos, here, here, and here, featuring the Pioneer Academy of Science. One contains the text: "The Pioneer Academy of Science set the backdrop for the 'Moral Values Presentation Competition'...a competition that recognized 31 out of 60 students in primary, secondary and high school. The member of the organization committee of the competition Dr Levent Koc said….."
Levent Koc is director of the Interfaith Dialog Center, a Gulenist non-profit.
Youtube user “MFethullahGulen” has uploaded a video of Pioneer Academy of Science. In the description, the school is referred to as Türk Koleji (Turkish College).
Youtube user “diyalogsitesicom” (Gulenist) has uploaded a video of Pioneer Academy of Science. In the description, the school is referred to as “Amerikan Türk lisesi” (American Turkish high school ).
The school webpage has the EBRU TV logo at the bottom; this is a Gulenist media outlet. A news article on the New Jersey news website nj.com about Levent Koc, director of the Interfaith Dialog Center (a Gulenist non-profit) states that Koc’s children attend a “private Turkish school, the Pioneer Academy of Science in their hometown of Clifton.”
Youtube user "HizmetVolunteer" uploaded a video about Pioneer Academy of Science's participation in the national Science Olympiad. The accompanying text says "The 'Pioneer Academy of Science,' also known as the 'Turkish College' in Clifton, New Jersey..."
The school website shows that students from Pioneer Academy of Science went to Mozambique along with the “Helping Hands Association” (this is actually Helping Hands Relief Foundation, a Gulenist charity).
Connections between Pioneer Academy of Science and the Gulen charter schools
Connections to the publicly-funded Gulen charter schools are shown by the multiple affiliations, both past and present, of the following individuals:
- Coach, Pioneer Academy of Science, 2004
- Board of Trustees, Paterson Charter School of Science and Technology
(Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Participated in Interfaith Dialog Center, NJ event
- Principal, Pioneer Academy of Science South Jersey (now defunct private Gulen school in Cherry Hill, New Jersey that closed down in 2010; sister school of Pioneer Academy of Science)
- Club advisor, Paterson Charter School of Science and Technology, NJ (Gulen charter school in NJ)
Isik "Isaac" Durmus
- Vice Principal, Pioneer Academy of Science
- Dean, Rochester Academy Charter School (Gulen charter school in NY)
- Science Teacher, Science Department Head, Science Olympiad Team Advisor, Paterson Charter School of Science & Technology (Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Fatih University (Gulen university in Turkey)
- Principal, Pioneer Academy of Science
- School director, Syracuse Academy of Science, NY
- Petitioner, proposed Utica Academy of Science Charter School, NY
- Participated, along with Levent Koc, Director of the Interfaith Dialog Center and Mevlut Kirazli, Program Coordinator of the Interfaith Dialog Center, in Assemblyman Thomas Giblin’s tour of Pioneer Academy of Science
- Teacher, Horizon Science Academy Cleveland Middle School (Gulen charter school in Ohio)
- Horizon Science Academy Denison (Gulen charter school in Ohio)
- Superintendent at Horizon Educational Services, Cleveland, Ohio (charter holder corporation of Horizon Science Academy)
- Participated in events at Interfaith Dialog Center, New Jersey
- Speaker at HUTACA (Hudson Turkish American Cultural Association) events
- While science teacher at Horizon Science Academy Cleveland, led trip of 5 Horizon 8th grade students to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Antalya and Istanbul.
- Invited 3 of Cengiz Karatas' "finest" students from Moscow International School #56 to Horizon Science Academy Cleveland in 2002. The Moscow school was a Gulen school later shut down by Russian authorities as part of their crackdown on the Gulen Movement. Cengiz Karatas, at that time an English teacher, was later affiliated with Concept Schools and its charter schools.
Furkan "Frank" Kosar
- Principal, Pioneer Academy of Science, 2010
- Director, Paterson Charter School of Science and Technology 2004-06 (Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Principal, Brooklyn Amity School, 2009 (private Gulen school in NY)
- Lead Applicant, City Academy of Science, 2009 (proposed Gulen charter school in NY that never materialized)
- President, Council of Turkic American Associations (umbrella organization for Gulen Movement in northeastern US; one of 6 main subdivisions of Turkic American Alliance)
- Advisor, Pioneer Academy of Science. Helped Pioneer Academy of Science team prepare for Future City competition.
- Board of Trustees, Paterson Charter School of Science and Technology (Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Husband of teacher Ebru Oncul, Fulton Science Academy (Gulen charter school in GA)
- Judge, Turkish Olympiads of the Southeast US
- Director, Snowdrop Education Services; founder of Snowdrop Science Academy (now defunct private Gulen school in PA)
- Volunteered to organize public seminars through Interfaith Dialog Center, New Jersey
- Volunteered for Bosphorous Education Corporation (Gulenist)
Alpaslan Ozdogan, a.k.a. "Al Oz"
- Former math teacher, Pioneer Academy of Science (a private Gulen school in NJ)
- Former Head, Math and Science Departments, Central Jersey College Prep Charter School (Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Former teacher, Head of Math Dept, Paterson Charter School for Science and Technology (another Gulen charter school)
- Former Dean of Academics, Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania charter school (Gulen charter school in PA), under the assumed name "Al Oz"
- CEO, Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania (Gulen charter school in PA)
- President of the Board of Trustees of Bergen Arts and Science Charter School
- Founder, CEO, Pioneer Academy of Science
- Chairman, Turkish Cultural Center of New York (Gulenist organization)
- Frequent speaker, Interfaith Dialog Center in New Jersey (Gulenist organization that openly promotes the teachings and philosophy of Fethullah Gulen. Fethullah Gulen is the honorary President of the Interfaith Dialog Center.)
- Pioneer Academy of Science
- Teacher, Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School (Gulen charter school in NY)
- Brooklyn Amity School (private Gulen school in NY)
- Milkyway Education Center, Inc. (corporation running Pioneer Academy of Science)
- Pioneer Academy of Science (private Gulen school in NJ)
- Bergen Arts and Science Charter School (Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Science Dept head, Paterson Charter School of Science and Technology
- Chemistry teacher, Pioneer Academy of Science (private Gulen school in NJ)
- Vice Principal, Pioneer Academy of Science
- Thomas Edison EnergySmart Charter School (Gulen charter school in NJ)
- Bergen Arts and Science Charter School (Gulen charter school in NJ)
Other connections to Gulen Movement
- Jury for Moral Values Presentation Competition held at Pioneer Academy of Science
- Brooklyn Amity School
- Candela Network
- Turkish Cultural Center New York
- Teacher, Pioneer Academy of Science
- Author, Fountain Magazine
- "Taught" Scranton district school students about Turkey, along with Marywood University student Erkan ("Ercan") Acar. See this page.
August 24, 2012 NorthJersey.com (Clifton Journal)
"A Clifton science academy, which came close to moving its enrollment to Morris County in June as part of a $5 million deal, scrapped the tentative agreement after receiving approval to pursue an $11 million property in Wayne originally targeted last winter that is substantially larger. The Pioneer Academy of Science has backed out of a deal to move to Denville in favor of a Wayne location. The school will remain in Clifton for one more year. The Pioneer Academy of Science, an independent, private institution which opened in Clifton in 1999, services students from within the United States as well as internationals hailing from eastern European countries such as Turkey, Albania and Bulgaria."
July 28, 2012 NorthJersey.com
"Wayne clears Clifton-based school's move to industrial site"
"The Clifton-based Pioneer Academy of Science’s application to move to an industrial building on Totowa Road has cleared the township Planning Board, but it is unclear whether the school still intends to move there.....Pioneer Academy of Science administrators say they want to expand from 177 students to about 600, with a third of its enrollment dedicated to international students....The secular school now has 50 international students on the high school level — two from Germany and the rest from Turkey — out of about 100 who applied for admission. Of those students, 35 live in eight town houses in Lodi with school-appointed guardians. The rest live with relatives in North Jersey."
April 9, 2012 NorthJersey.com
"The cramped classrooms of the Pioneer Academy of Science are a world away for its young Turkish students who have traveled 5,000 miles for an education....The Pioneer Academy, serving students in Grades 6 to 12, has seized on a growing global demand for U.S. education by launching student recruitment efforts abroad. The school is planning for a new campus in Wayne so it can expand from 177 students to 600, with a third of its enrollment dedicated to international students."