I've been pacing myself to go through all the charter school applications. At about 566 pages each, it's a long slog.
But I can confirm that I see none of them - submitted to the Charter Commission - that are applying to be conversion schools. What is somewhat troubling is that one of them - Pioneer School which currently exists as a private school - didn't even seem to understand the question. Have they read the law? It's unclear.
I also note the presence of several ex/current Microsoft or Gates Foundation employees in a couple of applications.
I was also quite surprised to see former Washington State legislator, Dawn Mason, on the application coming from the Gulen group. I note that Gulen is in the news as their supporters in Turkey are presumed to be behind the effort to overthrow that country's secular government.
In the US, it runs one of the largest networks of charter schools
– purportedly secular – with links to more than 100 schools. In Turkey,
it controls a media and business empire that includes the newspaper
Zaman, the country’s highest-selling daily.
Gulen followers, who were often clean-shaven, Western-educated, and
English-speaking, defied the stereotypes of Islamists in Turkey during
the 1990s and early 2000s, which some analysts believe allowed them to
enter the judiciary and police without attracting the attention of the
Leaked video footage of one of Gulen’s sermons from 1999 laid out this strategy explicitly:
must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your
existence until you reach all the power centers,” he said. “You must
wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you
have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional
institutions in Turkey.”
It would seem prudent for our state to steer clear of any charter applicant with this kind of confusion around who leads their charter group and what their goals are and what their commitment is to U.S. public education.