Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Tom Vander Ark’s Blended Learning Glide Path

Educators and education consultants must have a few questions after a New York Times article about charter school projects that Tom Vander Ark sought to set up in 2010.

The article points out that Vander Ark spent $1.5million on “lawyers and consultants” but failed to open three blended learning schools in Brooklyn and Newark, New Jersey.  Vander Ark pinned the flop on the bad economy and other factors, but claimed that his staff members and colleagues were making “ridiculous” claims that there was no “there” there.

After the jump, a couple of quotations and a link to the article.

Blended learning projects falter, at the New York Times.

Some quotes:

Dirk Tillotson:

Dirk Tillotson, a charter-school consultant who read the application, agreed. “It didn’t seem like there was enough of a ‘there’ there,” he said, adding, “You didn’t know what the school was going to look like.”

The city and state approved the charter the next year, on the condition that Brooklyn Prep take an extra year to ready itself, with the opening scheduled for September 2011. At the same time, the first of the Newark schools, Vailsburg Prep, had its opening postponed to 2011 from the requested 2010, and the second, Spirit Prep, applied in 2010 for a 2011 opening but was also delayed a year.

Joshua Morales and James Wiley:

Those he has been working with had a harsher assessment.

“He’s flying 30,000 feet on the air, but can’t do it on the ground,” said Joshua Morales, a former official with the New York City Education Department who was hired by Mr. Vander Ark to develop the schools.

James Wiley, an educational technology consultant who has been serving as chairman of Brooklyn City Prep’s board of directors, said: “I’m from the Bronx, so you can imagine what language I used when I found out he was having these problems and we didn’t know anything about it. We just assumed that he was ticking along and things were going O.K.”

Vander Ark:

But after spending more than $1.5 million of investors’ money on consultants and lawyers, Mr. Vander Ark, 52, has walked away from the project, and the schools will not open as planned this fall, leaving others involved stunned and frustrated.

“If we had plotted a worst-case scenario, no one could have constructed the current situation,” said Mr. Vander Ark, saying the weak economy and the difficulty of establishing charters in New York and New Jersey “led to less success than we had hoped for.”




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  1. […] Tom Vander Ark’s Blended Learning Glide Path ( […]

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