50 Days Worth of Blogs About ‘Tornadic’ Tom Vander Ark: Day 6


On day three or four of this blogging journal, I had nearly finished my lists when I stumbled across the first “real people” article I had found about Tom Vander Ark. I had already been to his public Facebook page. So, I saw his trip to Greece and Turkey with his wife… and yada yada yada. But I do not begrudge any married couple of having good memories and “time away” spent together. (I have been a widow for 14 years and we were together 21 years and five children prior to his passing!) So I imagined… in my little Kelly mind, that Tom probably is on the road much and probably on the phone or computer easily 16-20 hours a day, so perhaps this trip was a long time coming. I dismissed his “personal”  life from my mind. I thought, ‘no it is not Tom the family man that I am after. It is Tom the REFORMER TRAIN WRECK’s ENGINEER that I want to expose.’

But the events from the last couple of days, have really sat hard with me. I have been able to do little else than to make some memes related to the mass murder in Charleston. (I will post them at the bottom of the blog.) The little else I did was listen to others as they were processing the pain. And to hear teachers trying to better their language skill sets in order to be able to better teach more deeply about social justice, institutionalized racism, and cultural sensitivity.

June is when my husband died (right after our wedding anniversary). And though those years have seemed fleeting, June is still tricky on the inside for me to get through. My heart aches normally. But June 2015 has been extra hard. Grief attaches to grief. AND, the fourth of our five children just graduated. It still saddens me beyond words to be celebrating these events without Richard seeing our babies becoming men and women.

The many graduation ceremonies made me think on the reasons sited in the above article for Tom to be pushing for reform. He, according to that one piece, had an epiphany of sorts. And evidently at his daughter’s graduation, he found himself aware of not enough kids graduating and particularly a noticeable amount of students of color not walking the stage for their diploma.

I am a people person. I like EVERYONE. I am extremely empathetic, to an almost uncanny innate ability to understand people’s feelings or aspects of their lives. So I started to second guess myself about writing all of this about Vander Ark. That article I had found (that sounds like it is written by someone who knows him well), gave a rather detailed personal side of Tom’s life. AND, it answered a question that I seem to find much of my questions based on. It answered to WHY? Why would a man with such fervor, set about to wreck so many people’s lives? Why would he push past all of the articles, and the groups, and the testimonies, and the statistics chocked FULL OF THE HAVOC his “ideas” are causing. WHY REFORM. I am gullible. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe that no one could be so greedy as to work such a scheme solely for the satisfaction of more, more, more mammon. But then I argue with myself saying ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, and I look over all I plan to present again in the next 44 days.

However, today’s blog is not going to be so very hard-hitting. (Not because I do not have the ammunition because trust me I do). But, because, I simply do not have the fight in me today. I am too sad to be mad, well, at least today!

When Rich and I were raising our children, we both agreed fullheartedly in this one quote or speech we heard somewhere about parenting. (It is the main meme at the opening of the blog!) I apply it in many places in life where it seems difficult to sort out what is right and what is wrong. It helps me categorize things.

If after reading the one bold print link in the first paragraph about Tom Vander Ark, you feel confused about whether or not he is in fact one of the top enemies of public education because of his supposed motives, then please consider this little test. Which of the following categories do think TVA’s efforts fall in?

1. Right action/ Right motive
2. Right action/ Wrong motive
3. Wrong action/ Right motive
4. Wrong action/ Wrong motive

I still believe he is a 4. I believe his actions and his motives to be wrong. (And I aim to be super clear about why I believe such!) But for today, and just for today, I will offer the remote possibility that he is genuinely sincere about his reasons for running to the top shouting REFORM REFORM!

I also want to encourage you to do two things: read along for six more blogs  and by all means start looking up Tom Vander Ark’s windy trails in your city or state!

Peace, be still and know…. to all who are still in probably the initial stages of grief which are shock and denial. My heart is heavy for the awareness (well somewhat) of what the next 14 Junes will be like for all of you!


sue's version of my meme leslie bowman m denise baldwin


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s