New Documentary Connects 150+ U.S. Gülen Charter Schools to FBI Investigations, Corruption, Labor Abuses, and Unrest in Turkey

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Visual Truth Projects’ Documentary KILLING ED Trailer Released, Premiere Set Exposé Uncovers Gülen Charter Schools’ Abuses of Immigration, Teachers, Students, Labor Laws, et al.

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Today America gets its first lesson in the Gülen charter schools scandal with the first trailer, website, and theatrical NYC premiere announced for KILLING ED—a new documentary film from Visual Truth Projects and award-winning director Mark S. Hall that uncovers a shocking fact: that over 150 publicly funded, privately owned charter schools in America are in fact a “Trojan horse” introducing a variety of abuses. Hall, who previously directed SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH (2012), uses KILLING ED to expose the largest charter school network in the country—the Gülen Movement—which receives over $500,000,000 a year directly from American taxpayers.

The forthcoming documentary exposes how the group has gained political power and financial reward in the USA through a lack of transparency and regulation in the ever-growing charter school movement that has become a part of America’s education system. A two-minute trailer for KILLING ED—released broadly today—juxtaposes interviews with education advocates and Gülen school teachers against footage of Bill Gates, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick, Dr. Diane Ravitch (Research Professor of Education at NYU), and others with scenes of conflict in Turkey— unraveling a sophisticated business front which presents itself as a benevolent enterprise and discounts any criticism as “Islamophobic”. But the trailer tells a different story, taking a turn at :45, when Noel Hammatt, a former board member of the East Baton Rouge school district, says “I’ve never known a school to be raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This is a first.”

Hall remarks, “People deserve to know the truth. I went in without a specific viewpoint, independent and without affiliation to any foundation, party or group, so that the truth could be told in a pure form.” He continues, “My hope is that KILLING ED will enlighten a nation with a shocking first-hand look inside these troubled, publicly funded institutions. In doing so, the film reveals the motivations of the leader at the helm—and all those in the film that seek to protect us from the unchecked infiltration of our children, politicians, tax coffers, and communities.”

A Shocking Realization
What started as due diligence for a non-profit ended up being a five-year trek to uncover the “worst case scenario” of the privatization of education, which has emerged as a result of the often misunderstood charter school model. Director/Producer Mark S. Hall visited 24 charter schools around the US (19 of which were Gülen-affiliated). He conducted 44 interviews with politicians, experts, parents, teachers, charter advocates, Turkish-Americans and Turkish journalists. Ultimately, he interviewed former followers of Gülen to discover the origin of the “Gülen Movement” and discovering, shockingly, the apparent destination of many millions of American tax dollars annually.

Originally, charter schools were intended to educate students who were having difficulty learning and had dropped out of traditional public schools. Freedom from many of the regulations required for public schools was given to those who wanted to develop new ways of teaching within the public education system. However, a lack of oversight and regulation, generally, has led to the “worst case scenario” of a little-known but rapidly growing Islamic movement using public funds for anti-democratic activities such as purchasing influence, oppression of female teachers, as well as gender pay and religious discrimination and - as the film outlines - the apparent funneling of these public school dollars for its startling political objectives in the nation of Turkey.    

KILLING ED will have its premiere in New York City at the Cinema Village (Cinema Village, 22 East 12th Street, New York, NY 10003) March 25 – 31, 2016. Other screenings are in the works across the country and individuals and groups can book a screening for their community or organization via the platform. Digital/DVD/BluRay release dates will be announced in March.     

Factoids about Gülen Schools

  •     60,000+ students
  •     150+ schools in U.S. (with 12 new schools applied for)
  •     Over 1,200 schools worldwide
  •     $500M+ in taxpayer-funded revenue each year
  •     FBI investigations in four states
  •     Congressional investigation into Gülen-paid Turkey trips for politicians
  •     Over 5,000 Turkish employees on H1-B visas
  •     Operated by followers of Turkish Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gülen
  •     Gülen Movement named a ‘terrorist organization’ by Turkish government
  •     Movement’s charters support other follower's businesses (catering, buses, construction, school furniture, curriculum, etc.)

About Mark S. Hall
Mark S Hall is a risk-taking documentary filmmaker and lawyer based in Austin, Texas —whose curiosity and unusual set of skills drive him to tell complex stories for the public good. The award-winning producer and director of SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH (2012), Hall is now taking on a much bigger fish: the growing Islamic movement of imam Fethullah Gülen. It was as an impartial citizen that he stumbled upon a troubling story while volunteering at a nonprofit—due diligence led him to his next big catch. His new feature-length documentary film KILLING ED discusses the corruption and corrosive influence of a little-known, global Islamic group based in Pennsylvania known as the Gülen Movement that operates one of the largest network of taxpayer-funded charter schools in the U.S. that are the worst-case-scenario—schools with questionable academic, labor, and H1-B visa standards.

Hall’s previous documentary feature, SUSHI: THE GLOBAL CATCH, premiered in June 2011 at the Seattle International Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize. SUSHI examines the traditions, global growth and potential consequences of what a cuisine in a rapidly globalizing world. The film has screened in theaters, television and at prominent festivals in over 40 countries worldwide. It received a major market theatrical release in August, 2012 through the New York distributor, Kino Lorber, Inc. Hall’s television-focused work includes MISSION ON SEVEN (2010), a half-hour documentary exploring the film archive at the Harry Ransom Center, which won a Platinum Award at the Houston Worldfest Film Festival in 2010. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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David Wyatt
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