Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stritikus Steps Down

Tom Stritikus announced that he is resigning his position as the Dean of the UW College of Education to accept a position with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Here is his message to COE students and staff:

Dear Students:

I am writing to inform you that I will step down from the Deanship of the College of Education in early September. I’ve shared this news with Provost Cauce who is working on a transition plan for the leadership of the College. I leave knowing that whoever leads the College into the future will find an incredible organization in great shape, poised to make even further impact in improving teaching and learning in our nation.

The past four years have provided some of the best moments of my professional career. Especially rewarding is watching the growth of our students during their time here. You will shape the future of education in our state and country, and there is nothing as gratifying as watching our graduates take what they have learned and improve the lives of young people.

On September 15, I will begin work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a Deputy Director on the College Ready Team. My work there will follow a similar path to much of what is happening at the College--supporting innovation and improving classroom learning, next generation technology, and professional development and teacher training.

Your passion for making outstanding education a daily reality for children has meant the world to me. Our communities need your passion, and it has been an honor to serve as your dean.

All the best,


Tom Stritikus
Professor and Dean
College of Education


mirmac1 said...

I'll bet the MIT students are dancing a jig. He has singlehandedly eroded the value of their hard work and training. I'm sure he will be as ineffectual at BMGF.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Absolutely NO surprise to me. I knew he was not long for this position.

And going to the Gates Foundation? Pure gold.

I have to wonder what it means for the losing-money TFA program. I know they are just dying for charters to open so they can stock them with TFA but problem is, that's still years off.

How long can UW run this program in the red?

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like a match made in heaven.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

It should read "officially accepts position" with Gates. He's been doing their work for years.

--enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

Meanwhile, over at Teacher United, they're having a conference for "transformative teaching" at UW.

Now I had wondered to myself how much that could cost for an outside group to hold a conference at UW?

Turns out that it's probably easy when the College of Education is one of the sponsors. (Wonder if SEA knows you can get a deal.)

Probably one of the last things Stritkus did for his TFA friends as he walked out the door.

Anonymous said...

Also more than fishy since Gates pretty much bankrolls A Few Teachers United Against Unions.

Wonder if Stritkus approved the "conference" while seeking employment with Gates.

Never mind, he's been seeking employment with Gates for as long as we've known him.

--enough already

Patrick said...

Tom, don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

Watching said...

OK, This is the same guy that created the Teach For America pathway and threw his students under the bus. The creation of Teach for America was an implication that his college did not adequately prepare teachers.

This is only going to get worse.

Anonymous said...

This is the worst thing that has ever happened.


Charlie Mas said...

Cyndi, how I wish I shared your perspective

Cliff Mass Weather Blog said...

Here is my Dean Stritikus story

I think most would agree that not enough K-12 teachers have strong STEM backgrounds.

I and a few other science/mat/engineering faculty had an idea to fix this.

Many STEM majors are not getting STEM jobs and many are interested in education careers.

But they don't want to get the education background with a M.S. in education, with all the attendant costs.

So why not allow STEM undergaduate majors to take education classes WHILE they are at the UW, perhaps doing student teaching in their senior year or immediately after graduation. You could have huge numbers of very strong STEM students entering the teaching profession. If a few week TFA program was good enough for TFA supporters, a few years of courses would be fine, right?

Well, I approached Dean Stritikus with this plan and he was not very interested. Under enormous pressure, he had a group meet once and then nothing every happened. He wouldn't even return my emails after that. It was clear that he and his senior staff did not really care about getting STEM majors with strong backgrounds in math and science. What they wanted was more master's of education students.

I was very disappointed in him. Perhaps his replacement will be more forward thinking...cliff mass

Anonymous said...

Stritikus wanted to advance his standing within the TFA organization, collect his adulation and accolades from them by making it easy for TFA trainees to get jobs/degrees under the false premise that there was a qualified teacher shortage in WA. I believe he even said something about not enough STEM grads at one point, hence his contrived need for TFA (audience-dependent)- but REAL STEM grads would compete against his precious TFA 5-week trainees, so I completely understand why he blew off the idea.
Something like 5th year program to obtain teaching credentials/do student teaching for STEM grads would be a great way to get more of them into teaching, especially if they are taking some ed courses as an undergrad as well. Hopefully the new dean will be an actual educator/true academic who will see the value in that idea, and do something about the bleeding TFA program.
Not sad to see Stritikus go at all, though I think someplace like Texas would be a better fit for him. :)


dan dempsey said...

Excellent that Tom S. gives us this heads up:

He will be following a similar path at BMGF to his UW path.

I can only see that his modus operandi of making decisions while ignoring relevant data is likely a perfect fit for BMGF.

More spin and no facts... what a guy what an organization. {A fine example of how to climb the career ladder}

word said...

Cliff Mass' post is very prescient. I have supervised many graduate students in the Biophysics and Physiology department who would be interested in this path. Many have done excellent research but have decided that life at the research bench is not as interesting as teaching. One of our PhD students has already taken this path - and is teaching at Cleveland STEM HS. It is a shame that a sorely needed professional education pathway - with students ready to participate - was passed over by the College of Education. Sickening.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Every year the UW College of Education has a phone-athon fundraiser targeting alumni. When they call me I carefully lay out the reasons I will not give them money as long as they continue to undermine the profession. I ask the caller to write my concerns down and pass it on. They really don't want to, because they want to get on to more lucrative calls, but I very politely but firmly make them hear me out.


Anonymous said...


Those UW phone-a-thons often use current student volunteers as callers to alumni. To be more effective, I'd recommend calling UW Advancement directly and expressing your concerns.

Anonymous said...

The people who want politics to involve rational analysis of alternatives, who want public debate of priorities and rational thought applied to those priorities, those people also intentionally, rationally, avoid the personal.
What happens when you avoid the personal is you forget to or fail to notice that successful selfish self promoter people think the world revolves around them because of their credentials, their degrees, their job titles, their paychecks, their home and vacation zip codes. These successful self promoters think they deserve what they have because they know they're better than you - since you didn't do what they did and you don't have what they have.
Tom, you're just moving from your U.W. COE branch office to your natural home in


Anonymous said...

Preschool for all would like to require a bachelor's degree for its preschool teachers and provide training. Guess who has been working on one. Who is providing curriculum ?




Watching said...


Let's take a guess regarding the city's preschool curriculum. Will computers be involved?

FWIW...pediatricians do not support early use of computers.

Anonymous said...

I think most would agree that not enough K-12 teachers have strong STEM backgrounds.

More STEM religion. Is there actual evidence for this, relative to other fields? If STEM grads aren't finding work after their excellent STEM UW education, that's evidence that maybe the heavy STEM emphasis is actually misplaced. Rather than pawning off STEM grads on K-12, maybe we need way less STEM (relative to other neglected fields). Just because someone has done graduate research in biophysics or physics doesn't mean they're especially qualified for anything else.


word said...

Teaching K-12 is not a back-up plan that STEM grads pursue because they "aren't finding work". In fact they are turning down easier and more lucrative paths because they have a passion for teaching and have demonstrated a high aptitude for teaching during their PhD training. Due to the lack of a defined K-12 path for these students, many volunteer in school programs to gain additional training in teaching younger students.

Anonymous said...

Talk about following the money! The Article Title should be: "Ed Reform Veteran Cashes In."

As a UW Alum, this is great news.

As for Stritikus? He should feel right at home among the best and brightest bullies on the block.Now he can practice the deception, the back-stabbing, the double-talk and platitudes full-time, unencumbered by any other duties.


Anonymous said...


Here's what Cliff Mas says
Many STEM majors are not getting STEM jobs and many are interested in education careers.

And many music majors aren't getting music jobs either, and they want to teach K-12. There are degrees in Music Ed for that. STEM majors are like everyone else. You want to teach in a school - get the credentials. I don't agree that there's some special STEM deficit, only a lot of college teachers who don't want to do the work of teaching those who come to them. I'm a STEM professional myself. K-12 is the backup plan for all sorts of people.