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Teach for America Attracts Men to Early-Childhood Education

It can be hard to find a guy teaching preschool these days—unless you look at the Teach for America pipeline.

This year, 11 percent of TFA's early-childhood educators are male compared with only 2.3 percent nationally.

Sure, that's only 33 teachers out of the current class of 300 recruits, but I was curious to know whether or not TFA was doing anything special to attract that many men.

So I asked Laura McSorley, who is in charge of TFA's early-childhood initiative and crunched the numbers upon my request.

I brought the subject up after reading a terrific little essay posted on TFA's "Pass the Chalk" blog written by one of McSorley's teachers--Eli Pessar--a California native who taught preschool in Chicago in 2011.

He testified to the need for male role models in preschools and the impact he made with children.

"Males in this field have the opportunity to play the part of much-needed role models in low-income communities," Pessar wrote. "Fifty percent of my students do not have fathers active in their lives. To be clear, that number is better than the area average: A mile east of where my school is located, it's more like 90 percent."

Still, many men instead go on to teacher older children.

McSorley said that TFA doesn't have recruiting men into pre-K as an agenda item, but that it happens naturally.

TFA explains to recruits prior to their service the need for pre-K teachers in general, she said.

McSorley added that with all the brain research done recently, men are possibly becoming more interested in the science behind teaching the youngest children.

TFA, which is based in New York, trains educators for all grades outside of traditional universities, pulling top grads and career-changers into public school settings and offering in-service as well as on-the-job training.

Pessar's essay can be found here.

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