We were informed by Harmony Parent about this sensational event. Kudos to Harmony School of Ingenuity.
Harmony School of Ingenuity received 2nd place in the food drive for the “Food for Families” event hosted by the Houston Rockets which donated to Target Hunger and Kids Meals, Inc. We collected over 3300 canned goods and non-perishable items
We had the honor of having special guest Jeremy Lin visit our campus to personally thank our HS-Ingenuity students and staff for participating in this event. The winning classes were 5C- Ms Duong’s homeroom and 7B- Mrs Lane’s homeroom. Students received Rockets T-shirts and two free game tickets. We would like to thank ALL families that donated items to help other families in need.
An official video of Jeremy’s visit to HS-Ingenuity can be found here: http://www.nba.com/rockets/video/jeremy-lin-and-food-families
We, Harmony Schools Advocates, have received many beautiful and meaningful letters from our fellow parents after “60 Minutes” was aired on May 13, 2012. We did publish some of them and due to space limitations, we could not publish all the letters we have received. On the other hand, we were also notified that there were still some detractors like Donna Garner, who were able to find something to object despite all these success stories of Harmony Public Schools.
Ms. Garner’s point of concern, this time, was Dr. Soner Tarim, the Superintendent of Harmony Public Schools, who was accused by Ms. Garner of not speaking to public a lot. Some of us have known Dr. Tarim for several years and he is not a type of person that appears on the media on every occasion, nor does he take the credit when something is accomplished or achieved.
We all know that more than 1,500 staff members, over 20 thousand students and parents of Harmony are the ones behind the success of Harmony Public Schools, but we also believe that credit should be given to those when it is due. It is high time that Dr. Soner Tarim be recognized for his hard work and self-dedication.
We have also realized that Harmony Parent website has already done this well-deserved recognition about Dr. Tarim, but we still believe that it wouldn’t be enough even if we praised Dr. Tarim and his excellence for pages. By the way, you should take a look at that article at Harmony Parent to find out more about the dedication of Dr. Soner Tarim.
Almost all Harmony Schools Advocates, one way or another, personally met with Dr. Tarim and attended one of his open house presentations about Harmony Public Schools. He is a self-confident, open-minded and forward-looking gentleman with some class. He will probably be offended to us because of our praise. But we take our chance here. We believe that he has never become a one-man show and his manners just look natural.
As mentioned in that linked post, if he had not shown such degree of dedication during the first years of Harmony Schools, we would, most probably, have never seen Harmony Schools flourishing that much.
We are aware that our thanks would not be sufficient to match Dr. Tarim’s efforts, but in the wake of recent national ranking of Harmony Schools by Newsweek and U.S. News, we appreciate his presence and we wish him to be with us for the years to come.
Update: We have been hearing this “Gulen Charter Schools” nonsense for some time and we haven’t paid much attention to that. It is always easy to try to put someone into disgrace. So, we really don’t care what the charter school detractors are up to. Also, our fellow blog, Harmony Parent, does a decent job to handle the accusations.
Harmony Public Schools have issued a statement regarding the “60 Minutes” broadcast aired on May 13, 2012:
You can download the PDF version of the statement here: Harmony Public Schools and 60 Minutes: Setting the Record Straight – 5/14/2012
A segment of the May 13 television news show 60 Minutes included references to Harmony Public Schools (HPS) of Texas that may have left some inaccurate impressions. Please note the following facts about Harmony Public Schools, all of which were shared with 60 Minutes before the show was broadcast:
- HPS operates charter schools in Texas only.
- HPS are non-profit, open enrollment, Texas public schools, free to all students living in their respective independent school districts or surrounding districts.
- HPS is overseen by the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education, and follows the same rules and regulations as any other public school in Texas.
- HPS are not part of a national network of charter schools.
- HPS are not affiliated in any way with any religious or political organizations, including the so-called Gulen movement.
- HPS do not teach religion in any form.
- Approximately 16 percent of HPS teachers are on H-1B temporary work visas due to the well-documented shortage of qualified math and science teachers in the U.S. These teachers go through a rigorous, multiple agency U.S-government visa process before being approved to teach in the U.S.
- Of the more than 1,800 HPS employees, we have two teachers on H-1B temporary work visas who teach English. Both are graduates of an English language or literature program, and meet state and federal definitions of being “highly-qualified” to teach.
- The former teacher from Ohio who alleged that her husband was required to give a portion of his paycheck to an unnamed organization has never had any association with HPS whatsoever.
- In addition to having two schools ranked in Newsweek’s 2011 list of “Top 500″ High Schools in America and “Ten Miracle High Schools,” three HPS campuses made U.S. News & World Report’s “Best High Schools 2012 Rankings.”
Thank you for your continued interest in Harmony Public Schools. We remain confident that the more factual information people have about HPS, the more people will understand our philosophy and mission: Excellence is our standard, we expect every student to perform to the highest standards, and we believe that every child can achieve excellence in the classroom, and in life, if we nurture, develop and challenge them.
After the recent “60 Minutes” news program, a number of Harmony parents have commented on the program by either writing to Dr. Soner Tarim, the Superintendent of the Harmony Public Schools or by voicing their opinions on the broadcast. Here are the few selected ones:
I am the grandmother of 7 grandchildren in two Harmony schools (2 more to be added to the 7 in the fall). One school is the one in north Grand Prairie, and the other is on Camp Wisdom Road in Dallas.
My entire family supports Harmony and its teachers, including the Turkish teachers and administrators. I am so thankful that you have chosen to educate American children. There seems to be such a terrible discipline problem in public schools these days, and teachers and administrators are hamstrung in dealing with it. I feel that Harmony provides a safe environment and high standards for students. I praise Harmony to anyone with whom I discuss schools or our education system.
I was talking to my daughters (and they spoke to other parents of Harmony students also) and was wondering if there was anything we could do to counteract the false news reports? Unfortunately, bad news, even if it is false, makes big news today.
I don’t think you need to worry about most parents believing these stories as long as they are well informed.
Keep up the good work, and you are appreciated!!
I truly believe that all parents of students and future students will see the good work that is being done by our (your) schools. I have Jewish children in one of the Harmony schools and am confident that their religious beliefs are not in jeopardy. Not only that but I have felt that the school has bent over backwards to accommodate our religious needs. I thank you for creating such an exceptional environment for my children.
My name is Juan Guevara, and I am writing to you because I want you to know that I watched 60 minutes because I was curious about what they had to say about Harmony Schools. Before I made any judgments, I watched it on its entirety, and I was so disgusted because of what was said.
I hate when people make statements like that, with no information whatsoever. It is so disgusting when is “election” season all these politicians use anything and do anything for the all mighty “vote”
I have my three kids going to Harmony School of Innovation in Carrollton TX, my kids attend 8th, 6th, and 4th grades. They are going there since the school opened in 2010. And I don’t have any complaints or any concerns about the school doing anything wrong. On the contrary, I want to thank all the teachers and staff for everything they have done for my kids. My kids were going to the Lewisville School district, in Denton County Texas, I was very concerned because my oldest son was reading 2 grades behind his level, was 2 grades behind in Math and science, I never saw him doing any homework at all, I’ve never saw him doing any projects of any kind.
And it was only when I enrolled him in Harmony when he finally caught up with his grades and now I am proud to say that my son is excelling in Math and Science. His reading level is now above his level. His Math level is about College level! And He is barely going to be a fresh man in High School!
So, for all of these people talking about Harmony without any foundation whatsoever, I tell them, before you open your mouth, come and see what is the deal with Harmony and then make your conclusions. We as parents have the obligation and the duty, to get involved in our kids school work, me and my wife are or try to be on top of everything they do. I see my kids every day, I see what they do, I see their behavior. At the end of the day it is our responsibility to help the teachers educate our kids. If parents try or want to leave all the responsibility to the teachers, then it is their fault and that is why is very easy for them to make excuses and blame it on the school and the teachers for their kids messed up behavior.
I am very thankful with Harmony and the teachers, and I appreciate everything they have done for my Kids.
My family is one of the founding Christian families of the American Colonies (Ozias Goodwin of Hartford Connecticut 1636), the Rev. Thomas Hooker wrote the first known “Constitution” which addresses the God given rights of man to be free and independent of religion and governments abuse them. The rights of man to worship where he chooses, who he chooses and his own responsibility for his relationship with his maker. These rights also carry into our rights as a free people, free to decide our future, our course, our laws and those who will govern.
Having said that, I’m of course very shocked to hear that 60 Minutes has chosen to confuse and muddy the waters for Harmony Schools. For 60 Minutes to introduce innuendo about religious affiliation and obligation is truly a media outlet out of control, yellow journalism at its worst! Shame on them.
The school has been instrumental in my child (William) going from being a low grade student to an Honor student that is directly a result of Harmony school of Innovation! We are trying to figure out how we are going to proceed a year from now going on to High School. We are so concerned about how making that transition will be like going from a Harvard quality education you have been instrumental in to what high school?
Please know that we are so impressed and confident with our school, you, the staff and the teachers!
You have done the right thing to let us know about this and in a month it will be all in the dust bin of bad journalism. We are in complete support of Harmony.
I can tell that this feels like you have been painted into a dark corner by ignorance and a media running amok. Again be assured that you and the school are held in the highest esteem and the 60 Minutes story does not move us at all, does not shake our confidence in what you do or the caliber of education you are committed to deliver for your students.
We know TV is all about selling advertising even real news is objective to overloaded with doubtful info. That why we never watch news or related show. WE WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT HPS. YOU ARE THE BEST AND YOU ARE MAKING A BETTER CITIZENS AND A BETTER AMERICA
Francisco J. Barragan
The parents of HPS are very aware of the kind of school our children attend and our opinion will not be tainted by the recent media attention. My son attends Harmony Science Academy NW in Houston. He is being challenged and I am very pleased with the quality of education he is receiving. Furthermore, his teachers are good to him and are very willing to do anything they can to help their students succeed. Unlike the public school he last attended, the students get along with each other and are not troubled by the kind of violence we are seeing today in our schools. I feel very fortunate that my son has the opportunity to attend an HPS school.
We watched the broadcast and at the end we thought HPS came off looking very professional and on point with what our young people need to be focusing on as far as education. We are very happy with the progress our granddaughter has made this year in the 5th grade at HSNA. Your teachers are very caring and most importantly responsive when there are problems or we have questions.
I had not heard much about Gulen or his influence on Turkish society. If his influence is as 60 Minutes stated, to honor God through education and prosperity, then I find that an admirable way to integrate religion and the modern world. All in all nothing scary in the report for our family…
According to a report dated March 16th 2012, Harmony Public Schools has received BBB rating again by Standard & Poor’s, who also stated that the outlook of the Harmony Public Schools is stable. BBB rating is the highest possible rating for a charter school operator to receive. In the report, Standard & Poor’s said:
“The stable outlook reflects our view of the successful operating history of the organization and management’s expectation that demand at each of the foundation’s campuses will remain strong. We anticipate that strong demand and prudent management of operating expenses will likely boost the Foundation’s financial metrics over time.”
Dr. Soner Tarim, the Superintendent of Harmony Public Schools, said:
“In the midst of national and global financial instability, Harmony Public Schools system has demonstrated its ability to remain financially stable through fiscally sound organization and management. Renewing our BBB rating along with a stable outlook will enable us to save thousands of dollars which can then be used to further advance the efforts of our students, teachers, and staff members”.
The report continues with these statements:
“Harmony Schools continue to perform well academically, with 21 of the 36 schools receiving “exemplary” or “recognized” ratings from the TEA. Foundation management can also highlight a zero percent dropout rate for all schools as well as a 100% college acceptance rate for graduating seniors.”
“In addition, its schools have received awards and recognition for performance and achievement including being one of 15 nominees in the nation for a Broad Prize, for winning the MathCounts State Championship, and for having two Harmony high schools listed in the Top 10 Miracle High Schools Network in the U.S. by Newsweek. The curriculum for all Harmony Schools focuses primarily on science and math while offering advanced placement as well as gifted and talented programs.”
TO READ THE FULL VERSION OF THE REPORT, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
- The San Antonio News article is simply another compilation of old innuendo, allegations and rumors that attempts to put Harmony Public Schools in a context that is not accurate.
- Using a sensational, inaccurate headline, and relying almost exclusively on anonymous sources, the News allowed a few people who have never been to one of our schools, and whose views are tinged with discrimination, to make unsupported claims.
- For the record, as explained in detail to the News during the many months we cooperated with them for this article:
Approximately 16 percent of our teachers and staff are from outside the U.S., and were authorized for hire after completing a lengthy government visa process.
- Our schools have no affiliation with any political or religious organizations whatsoever, and we do not teach religion.
Contracts for construction and services are awarded to the lowest bidder that demonstrates the ability to meet our requirements and timetables for performing work.
- At Harmony Schools, taxpayer funds are used solely to support operations and educate students, and we do so at a superior level and a lower cost per student than non-charter public schools
- Finally, the article contains a disturbing anti-immigrant bias. Harmony was founded by Turkish-Americans who saw a need and an opportunity to help Texas schoolchildren in the fields of math, science and technology, and we are proud of that heritage and of what we have accomplished. Importantly, our schools have become more diverse every year, and we will continue to diversify as we continue to grow.
- Sadly, the impressive achievements of Harmony students – the real measure of success for any school – were barely mentioned in the article, despite being provided to the News.
My children have been attending Harmony for three years. My daughter is in this picture. She is the tall blonde on the right hand side of the picture. Three of her best friends are also in this picture. They were all in 8A at the time
Here’s what happened. Do you see how two girls are holding a large US flag and the other girls are holding smaller US flags? As a part of the dance routine, each girl was hiding a tiny US flag inside her belt. The girls were supposed to pull out these flags and dance with them as well. As they were dancing, one girl’s tiny flag fell out of her belt and landed on the stage floor. The girls attempted to kick the flag out of the way so they would not step on it or slip and fall, but the dance was so vigorous that they couldn’t get it out of the way.
They did step on the tiny US flag, but they certainly did not do it intentionally. This was simply a prop malfunction; similar to any one might see at a dance routine at a local high school football game.
By the way, the Cultural Arts Festival event organizers “begged” the Turkish Dance Team from HSA Waco to return to the festival in September 2011. Once again my daughter was on the team. The girls were very well received, and were considered a favorite among attendees. The Student Council volunteered throughout the event. Many people stopped the students to inquire about the school. It was a fantastic recruiting opportunity for the school.
Donna Pravel, HSA Waco parent
UPDATE: We received this comment after publishing the article yesterday and we decided to publish it as part of our impartial approach to this incident. As can be seen from the comment of HSA Waco parent, there was no intentional trampling or stepping up on the flag as Ms. Garner claims. Moreover, if we had not wanted everyone to know about what happened during the folk dance in reality, we would not have published this parent comment.
Ms. Garner’s main purpose of exaggerating this incident is to give the public the impression that the students at Harmony Public Schools are raised as non-patriotic individuals, a theme Ms. Garner continuously emphasizes. This incident is just a part of Ms. Garner’s famous baseless claim that Harmony students are not properly taught the main topics of Social Studies, because their teachers are international. As Advocates, we really do not know how many times this baseless claim has been refuted, because there is no so-called “Turkish” Social Studies teacher at Harmony Schools and we do care about this issue more than Ms. Garner does. Even if there were some international teachers that teach Social Studies, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot properly teach anything to our children.
In short, there was no need to make a mountain out of a molehill Ms. Garner, wasn’t there?
If you have any video related to this festival, we will gladly publish it here, because as Harmony Schools Advocates, we are not afraid of revealing the truth in any incident. We do not manipulate the facts like Donna Garner, who even did not have the courage to respond to our open letter to her that we penned a few months ago.
Meanwhile, you can find yesterday’s article below:
Donna Garner, a retired teacher from Waco, has recently been the spokesperson of those who attack Harmony Public Schools. In fact, in order to enjoy such status, one needs to be knowledgeable (to the extent of expertise) about the things he or she works on and needs to spend a good amount of time on the issue that he or she opposes. Unfortunately, Donna Garner lacks both prerequisites. But she still continues to defame Harmony Schools, talks like an expert on them (she has never been to any Harmony campus) and she becomes really pathetic when the real experts tell the truth by revealing Ms. Garner’s pseudo-truth.
One of those experts, whom he or she calls himself/herself Dr. Kurt, exposed Donna Garner’s mistakes and false claims in his/her own blog. You can read the entire article as well as the previous ones about Donna Garner in that blog, but today as Harmony Schools Advocates, we will debunk Ms. Garner’s one of oft-repeated claims: the so-called trampling of American flag at a Harmony event in Waco. First, please see the picture that was taken during the event:
This picture is from the event Ms. Garner repeatedly mentions. It took place in Indian Spring Park in Waco in September 2010. More pictures related to the dance and the event can be found here. Donna Garner has been claiming that the folk-dance students (seen above) trampled the United States of America flag during the dance performance. But the picture does not say so. Even when you look at the other pictures, there is no indication of trampling the US flag at all. This leaves us wondering why Donna Garner still makes the same claim even though she has no visual proof at all. What she says is just based either on fabrication or hearsay.
Do you believe and expect from these students to commit such a shameful act as Ms. Garner claims? This is just sheer imagination. If we find any video related to this festival, we will gladly announce it, because as Harmony Schools Advocates, we are not afraid of revealing the truth in any incident.
P.S: We received a long comment (full of insults) from Vanessa Kachadurian (from her Turkish-looking fake Twitter account) in which she accepts being Armenian and her hatred towards Harmony Schools. Her comment ends this way: “We will make sure to keep you busy, in fact you just gave me an idea with another well known journalist.”
As Harmony Schools Advocates, we are not afraid of any media outlets as long as they maintain good intentions and objective journalism rather than yellow journalism.