*Bolded words are hyperlinks!
All of this started benignly enough when I saw a Tweet from a PUBLIC SCHOOL that immediately reeked of reform. Its unpleasant perfume of profiteering and privatizing lept out at me and caused an immediate instinctual alarm. Here was the post on Twitter that set my research into overload mode:
RT @LisaDuty1: Five Trends Demand Smart States http://gettingsmart.com/…/…/five-trends-demand-smart-states/ … @tvanderark @Getting_Smart #SmartCities #SmartStates
And here was what just typed right out of me in shock and earnest concern:
@ReynSchools @LisaDuty1 @tvanderark @Getting_Smart .whoooaaaa whoooaaa whooaaa why is Reyn PUBLIC schools pushing promoting PRIVATIZATION?
I had never heard of Tom Vander Ark. I am fairly new ( 2 1/2 years now) at advocating for our children in PUBLIC schools. But, as part of the leadership team for the Badass Teachers Association, I am blessed to be able to run to the 50 other wise folks who have been education activists for decades, and I can always get an answer. After quickly posting a hasty warning in the Reynoldsburg community group, and in Ohio BATs, I rushed into what we affectionately refer to as the “cave” and asked who was this TOM character. I think it was the first time it ever happened…not a single one had ever heard of him. I was shocked, because what I had initially pulled up on the internet about this fellow, showed me that he had been on the scene a longtime. As a matter of fact he can probably claim some kind of cheesy plastic pretend trophy award for being one of the first NON-EDUCATOR BUSINESS BARONs to storm the Gates (pun intended) of the public schools. This entrance as a superintendent of a school in Washington for five years was his ‘foot in the door’ and since that time he has run pell-mell all over education sectors in the United States and Europe, with Paul Bunyan-size clomping boots, leaving a twisted strewn path behind him.
For a solid week now, I have been able to do nothing it seems but to put together an understanding of this self-designed door-to-door salesman. I have fifteen separate pages (topics) in One-note filled to the gills with lists and links. And, trust me it is tricky to wade through the swamp of Vander Ark’s prolific sales pitches. He claims to write 500 words a day in his many blog arenas. Its disturbing how much Tom Vander Ark writes about Tom Vander Ark and links everything to Tom Vander Ark’s partnerships upon the recommendation of Tom Vander Ark. He very purposely paints a virtual image of himself. He is very practiced and positioned as the perfect panderer. He has branded himself well and probably Googles himself several times a day. Seriously, while researching him, Carly Simon’s famous choral line kept popping into my mind— “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you, don’t you…”
I felt such a compelling burden to expose this man for what he truly is, that I could not wait to compress my research and write a blog piece that would have nearly every other word as a link. But anyone who knows me, knows I am far too long-winded to pop out a blurb. I relay information with full vivid details; the sensations, sights, sounds and smells if you will, matter to me as much as the facts. I decided to torque down the manic speed a bit, and to take the readers on a much lengthier tour of the Tom Vander Ark’s ensnaring egotistical empire.
Mercedes Schneider called Tom Vander Ark an “opportunist” in her fact-filled fury-fueled piece. Jeff Bryant called him an “Edu-business Poster Boy” in an article. Robert D. Skeels rattled off a couple of fitting descriptors in his rightful rant including “charlatan”, and “flimflammer.” A commenter by the name of ‘nitko’, on the same Schools Matter article, said:
Vander Ark is proven self-serving bloodsucker, feeding off the taxpayer.
He is a human tick.
I will call him out as a conniving collector, an advantageous angle-worker, and as one hidden right out in the open—
thieving from our children in the bright of the day.
I will trounce as best as I am able on the Tail of this Trickster Tornado, TOM VANDER ARK!
Kelly Ann Braun ^0^