Education, Schools

Ohio BATs w/Seattle

Ohio BATs stands in solidarity with Seattle Educators in proclaiming that #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool. Ohio BATs recognizes that systemic racial inequality within our schools has resulted from decades of neglect for our public education system. As educators and those who support educators, we affirm the Seattle Educators’ call for our collective awareness to this issue. We thank you for your tireless devotion to our students and the education they deserve. We thank you for your strong stand in support of our students of color. All of our children deserve champions like you. #WeSeeYouSeattleEducators
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50 Days Worth of Blogs About ‘Tornadic’ Tom Vander Ark: Day 11

U is for Union


UNIONS are something for which Tom Vander Ark has, and probably never had, any USE!!

UNIONS are something of which Tom Vander Ark has no UNDERSTANDING.

UNIONS are those over which Tom Vander Ark continually USURPS authority.

UNIONS are those which Tom Vander Ark perpetually UNDERMINES their importance.

I am glad I did not commit to 50 days in a row, but just rather 50 days worth of writings exposing Tom Vander Ark. I (WE) have had the most wretched week here in Youngstown, Ohio. And though I have not yet found the direct link (oh, and I will) all of my upset is related to exactly everything I have been writing about in this marathon blog series. Youngstown education was in a wicked whirlwind manner spun out as the MODEL CITY for which other Ohio school districts will be controlled by ALEC legislation. “This act also removes procedural and funding barriers to charter school success.” That would be the UNIONS!

We have been sold. Tom must have danced a jig as another one of his “TomMARTS” is going to get built. I will address this specifically in another blog with examples of exactly what I mean, but he probably will not personally appear on the scene. For the sake of his PR Upkeep, Youngstown is far too poor to prove to be one of his ‘supposed successes’. Indeed Youngstown is THE most impoverished city in Ohio!

I am vested in this city, born and raised on the west side of the rust belt. I do not want one single dollar bill to go to Tom Vander Ark from here. NOT ONE! I am so sick about this HB70 that I hardly know where to even begin. Tonight though… as NEA RA is getting underway in a couple of days. (with Badass Teachers Association in full representation) and, as my spirits were lifted somewhat yesterday by watching a WONDERFUL movie about Woody Guthrie, I feel led to stay with one singular aspect of all of this. UNIONS are still highly respected in Youngstown. We still carry the punch and fight gumption of the Steel Belt Era.

HB70 is taken directly from the cues of the model legislation bill from ALEC for charters. Only there has been so much negative light shed on all of Tom Vander Ark’s FAILURES in education experiments, that they have chosen to use his word COMMUNITY schools instead of CHARTERS. Any way you label it, Tom’s TOP-DOWN contorted “business model” FOR-PROFIT (but called non-profit) PRIVATIZED (though they hide behind the word PUBLIC) CORPORATIZED (though they will say Community-involved) schools complete with a 6-digit CEO and several 6-digit salaried consultants now will sink their sucking fangs into the neck of MY CITY and insert their money-siphoning tubing into the Heart of Youngstown!

One of the most-used sets of words in HB70 is “collective bargaining”. I did not count, but it might be the most frequently used words. This is how TomMARTs work. Legally freeze the UNION, annihilate their power, oh and do it quickly (this bill made all rounds politically in under 12 hours save for Gov. John ALEC FOUNDER Kasich’s signature, expected in the next two days.)

Here Tom is flipping out about Unions (he is upset big time at NEPC and NEA!):

“Finally, the report gets to the real point—there are (OMG!) for-profit companies involved in online learning. The real purpose of this hit piece is to block K12, Connections, and other private organizations from serving students. As John Bailey pointed out, this ‘keep the private sector out” strategy has successfully blocked the participating of private sector participating in education to a greater extent than in any other area of public delivery.”

Remember we discussed Sam Walton’s way to build and what he thought was the largest profit-line…was employee costs. With the Union silenced, this new CEO to come to Youngstown will have 100% fire/hire power. This is how TomMARTs are rolled out! Here was a comment in response to a Diane Ravitch blog where she talked about the “getting rid of teachers.”

“Anti-union ed reformer Tom Vander Ark relayed his message to school districts on August 18, 2011, at a presentation at Georgetown U.

  1. He said, ‘Give me two more weeks a year and two more hours a day and you can subtract two teachers.’”

    and another response:

    “*Effectively, the goal is to not have teachers anymore.*

    For the simple reason that paying teachers interferes with profit. The dismantling of public schools isn’t about educating kids – like all privatization schemes, it’s about companies like Pearson and K12 Inc making as much much money as possible while the opening to do so exists.”

In a review of Tom’s book, one had this to say: “The bottom line is that, although Vander Ark makes a few good points, and although he informs readers (in a scattershot fashion) about some interesting and innovative new approaches to education, “Getting Smart” is not a systematic or objective assessment of what we know or what we need. Instead, it is a self-serving marketing brochure for Vander Ark’s businesses and the industry associations to which they belong. Furthermore, Vander Ark promotes an anti-union legislative agenda that would deprofessionalize teaching and throw away the American tradition of local school control (for better or worse) in order to allow the big textbook companies and their education technology subsidiaries to profit more fully from the enormous public education market.”

When I first read this interview with BILL GATES, I had all of my Vander Ark research open in a search bar. I got confused for a second. These words are NOT BILL GATES words at all. He is just repeating what Tom Vander Ark has relayed to him or told him. I swear I can see Tom’s fingertips back where Bill’s tonsils would be.

“Gates: It’s not easy. School boards have a lot of power, so they have to be convinced. Unions have a lot of power, so teachers have to see the models that are working, because although change may be scary, they want to be part of a successful model. So we need more pilot programs, more dialogue, to get all the entities, government, school boards, unions, moving towards a more intensive education process.”

It is a BILL and TOM commercial! Read the whole article if you have time…Anthony Cody gives refute to Gates words (with Tom manning the dummy) in a powerful way.

Tom and Bill, both need to study their union history. Maybe we could sic the ghost of Woody Guthrie on both of them? I think I will send them both some lyrics of some super special songs.

Elitists have no use for unions. Why would one need democracy when you have the power of money or in Tom’s case the deceitful persuasiveness of CHARM.

Aside from the history and humanitarian side of the unions Bill and Tom BOTH need to read this lesson and study this bassackwards effect from what they propagandize that they are doing economically! Oh silly me, they most probably did study this chart and are working to swing that profit pendulum.

I could just scream at reading Tom’s lists over and over again in his posts. He just tweaks them here and there and regurgitates them for years upon years in his host of online places. But I hope that Tom Vander Ark will be experiencing the full-blown noise of a BAT SWARM very, very soon. And when he does, perhaps he will read all of these. And if he does…. perhaps this might be kind of like speaking his language.

Tom, here are ten MYTHS and FACTS about UNIONS:

Union Maid
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come ’round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union, I’m sticking to the union.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union ’til the day I die.

Please NEVER STOP SINGING Becca RItchie ^0^ !


50 Days Worth of Blogs About ‘Tornadic’ Tom Vander Ark: Day 7



When I first read about this situation, and we in the Badass Teachers Association leadership team were discussing it, I IMMEDIATELY in my mind furiously screamed TOMMMMMMMMMMM!  It had his MO all over it.

We were discussing the ludicrous situation of yet another  awesome educator, Rafe Esquith, being in “TEACHER JAIL” in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Explaining how I immediately made such a connection in my mind, will be a bit like holding the wind in my hands to show you the wind. While you can not see the wind, nor can I hold the wind, we both can clearly see the destructive effects of the wind. “In meteorology, winds are often referred to according to their strength, and the direction from which the wind is blowing.” There is a measuring of the wind’s spatial path and speed. In the Esquith situation I see the effects of “LA Tornado Tom” . The connections are not easy to follow (think weather chasing vans looking to film tornadoes and feel free to consider me the driver taking you along on an insane tornado hunt).

As Tom likes to say there is no silver bullet or single path. Jay Alan in his article about the situation wrote:  “I wondered if the education world had finally, inalterably, gone crazy.” And I in turn wanted to scream aloud to the world ‘Noooooooooo the education world has not gone crazy…the BUSINESS WORLD is thrusting its cray cray ways down the throats of schools with Tom Vander Ark ushering it all in!’
Tom Vander Ark’s ENTIRE EDUCATION BACKGROUND  was five years (’94-’99) of being a superintendent for the Federal Way Public Schools in Washington. From there he leapt to the top to being the Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (’99-’06). And when from the top of the tallest ivory towers, he saw the lands he could acquire, he jumped right down, the way tornadoes would touch down in numerous places at once. LA being the first.

“Vander Ark made the switch from the business world to education in 1994 when he was chosen to lead Federal Way Public Schools, one of Washington state’s larger districts. He was one of the first superintendents in the country recruited from the private sector, and in his current post at Gates he’s hoping to change the way American high schools do business.” Ref link Vander Ark was the first business executive to serve as a public school superintendent for one of Washington State’s larger school districts… Ref link Thus the marriage of the private business world to the public education world.

Immediately from his lofty grand Gates adventure, he was one of five finalists to head the Los Angeles Unified School District. (2006) He opened up his shiny business attache briefcase, and poured out all of his evasive education experiments. In business, bottom lines are always dollar signs. Smooth-talking sales techniques helped him to gather into play his army of pliable powerful politicians, big bucks businessmen, and inexperienced low-wage entrants. 

“Education reformers claim their goal is to improve public education for poor students. But education activists and teachers unions see a more insidious agenda: to render education a private good rather than a public right for all. Backed by uber-wealthy philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli and Edythe Broad and the Walton family (owners of Walmart), reformers ramp up high-stakes testing, villainize teachers and unions, close public schools and open non-union charter schools.”

More than money, I believe that Tom Vander Ark takes from Sam Walton the example of how to build his “TomMarts”– Charters, Small Schools, Blended Schools, and Online Schools ALL buying from Tom’s companies, but more on that in another blog! 

“Walton understood that a major requirement for keeping costs down was controlling the payroll.  As he would write in his 1992 autobiography, Made in America, “No matter how you slice it in the retail business, payroll is one of the most important parts of overhead, and overhead is one of the most crucial things you have to fight to maintain your profit margin.” Not only did Walton prefer to hire as few people as possible, but he also dreaded paying them more than he had to. Unions were particularly feared, and Walton did everything he could to fight them, almost always successfully.”
Ref Link (Tom was in retail right before his Pretend-I-am-a-Superintendent-stunt!)

So if you are initiating and running 1000s of RETAIL EDUCATION CHAINS, whom you need to convince to buy all kinds of tech connections— hardware and software, you have to help them find the money to “invest” in one of your numerous companies’ product lines. Soooooooooo, you cut back on your higher paid teaching staff. To do this you wage wars against unions, lobby (with a ton of money behind you) for laws that either give you lateral freedom or that form barriers against local school boards and unions whom you see as your arch enemies. You push for the strictest set of stats to sift out your heaviest expenses (the specialized staff, the experienced employees, the time-tested teachers). You cut the tar out of very practical and real hands-on programs in physical education (virtual gym can be done online), music (virtual music can be learned online), art (virtual museums can be visited online, and oh boy, you can PAINT online too), and drama (why build sets and do plays, when you can virtually watch millions of such online?) This topic will be explored as an entire blog also.

“It is obvious this is a clear-cut-case of age discrimination and how LAUSD is using trumped up charges just to try to get rid of teachers or force us to resign,” she said. [speaking in the article is a 60 year old choir teacher being interviewed while in teacher jail for some trivial trumped up tale.] Though the district denies they are targeting older teachers – a survey conducted by L.A. chapter of Educators 4 Excellence found that the majority of the educators currently reassigned to district offices across Los Angeles are older teachers. UTLA President Warren Fletcher was outraged by the report and vowed to file federal and state age-discriminatory complaints against the Board. Administrative staff at UTLA had initially contacted LAUSD requesting the district provide them with proof of the age of all the teachers currently under investigation, but the district refused. This prompted Lisa Karahalios, a LAUSD teacher and a member of Unjustly Jailed Teacher Committee request the birth records through the Freedom of Information Act database, where she found that out of 493 teachers under investigation – 453 are veteran older teachers.” Ref Link

Tom has superimposed his superfluous systematic mindset over one of the largest school districts in the U.S.

So much so, that all are now resigned to be mere data in dollar sign bottom lines.

Welllllllll, not ALL exactly. There is still room at the top for some ‘important to the BUSINESS of education’ . Many non-profit organizations are plaguing the education environment in Los Angeles. Profiteers in their manic self-preservation plans earn an average salary of nearly a quarter of a million dollars for a PART-TIME job on the RETAIL EDUCATION CHAINS’ Boards. Here is one. Remember it was 2006 when Tom came full-force on the LA scene? Well, what an amazing coincidence.

So too did MLA Partners, now LA Promise (Tom’s ‘connections’ change names like you and I change socks–since 1998 Fulfillment Fund’s College Pathways, which later grew into Center for Innovative Education, then Mentor LA, and now LA’s Promise!) And Tom? Yes, yes, he sat on the Board of Directors and none of the 12 members were educators. Today the very same is true. Though absent of Tom’s name in 2015, take a gander at who is currently at the table.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Fox Filmed Entertainment
Ares Management
CAA (two members) (one is Rick Hess, a founder and Co-Managing Partner of Evolution Media Capital (“EMC”), a joint venture with Creative Artists Agency (“CAA”), focusing on the media, entertainment, and sports industries.)
Philanthropist? (she reads as a school volunteer?)
Mayer Brown
Twentieth Century Fox
3AM/WildCard (two members)
Wells Fargo and Co.
Salem Partners
LA’s Promise (This is the Board of the LA Promise)

So if you are wondering why crazzzzzzzzzyyyyyyyy things are happening in the Los Angeles Unified School District…just look up towards the top, you will need to bend your neck wayyyyyyy back to follow the funds. And then when you are done Hear the Wind Blow Dear, Hear the Wind Blow, Hang Your Head Over and Hear the Wind Blow. 

Today Rafe Esquiths in Retail Education are Relic Expendables, especially if they oppose reform

rafe esquith


50 Days Worth of Blogs About ‘Tornadic’ Tom Vander Ark: Day 5

Vander Ark


5 out of 6 are NOT TEACHERS, never were in education….It is BUSINESS as usual in groups, in this instance Learn Capital, in which Tom Vander Ark participates. I just HATE like heck to send you to a link of TVA but truly, if you click on the bold print in the prior sentence you will see what kind of people Tom works with—they are not educators.



This article appeared on Getting Smart’s website and was written by Andy Calkins who is Deputy Director of Next Generation Learning Challenges, an initiative managed by EDUCAUSE and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with additional support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.


“A day before he opened his education reform conference to the media recently, Bush [Jeb] hosted another education meeting. This event, a private affair in the Palace Hotel, was a reconvening of investors and strategists to plan the next leg of the privatization campaign. Michael Moe, Susan Patrick, Tom Vander Ark and other major players were invited. I waited outside the event, trying to get what information I could. I asked Mayor Fenty how I could get in. “Just crash in, come on in,” he laughed, adding, “so what company are you with?” When he learned that I was a reporter, he shook his head. “Oh, nah, you’re not welcome, then.”


An invitation had billed the exclusive gathering as a chance for “philanthropists and venture capitalists” to figure out how to “leverage each other’s strengths” — a concise way to describe how for-profit virtual school companies are using philanthropy as a Trojan horse.”

Do you see any names you recognize in the following  list? These are the people TVA ADVISES….via the Advisory Board of the National DFER (Democrats For Education Reform) which is supported by the infamous Koch brothers as well as Steve Klinsky, a former hedge fund manager and founder of the for-profit charter company, Victory Schools, Inc.:

Michael Bennet U.S. Senate (CO)
Cory Booker U.S. Senate (NJ)
Will Burns City Council (IL-4th Ward)
Andre Carson U.S. House (IN-7)
Jim Clyburn U.S. House (SC-6)
Chris Coons U.S. Senate (DE)
Susan Davis U.S. House (CA-53)
Rahm Emanuel Mayor (IL)
Daniel Hernandez School Board (Sunnyside Unified School District)
Dan McKee Lt. Governor (RI)
Seth Moulton U.S. House (MA-6)
Crystal Peoples-Stokes State House (NY- 41)
Jared Polis U.S. House (CO-2)
Brian Schatz U.S. Senate (HI)
Bobby Scott U.S. House (VA-3)
Lorenzo Sierra City Council (AZ)
Mary Ann Sullivan School Board (IN)
Brandon Todd City Council (Ward 4)

koch brothers


Tom is the treasurer of the following  group—CEOs CEOs and more CEOs. It is  likely  you won’t know the names…but pay close attention for whom the people work. Systemic K-12 Education Reform Focus Area, the Walton Family Foundation?
nasca members


The lists go on and on and on….. Tom Vander Ark is frequently billed as a speaker with Wendy Kopp and sits on at least one Board with her!


Type in your favorite DEformer’s name and Tom Vander Ark’s name… and you will see.

Eva Moscowitz. Yep. Cami Anderson. Yep. Arne Duncan. Yep.


If you scroll down through the blog pages, back to page one, of this 50 day adventure, you will see an incomplete list of various Boards that Tom Vander Ark runs or oversees or at least is a member. Every one of those lists hold a group similar to the above groups. It is like a huge cycloning feeding frenzy group, with Tom always center stage!