The folks at The Education Wonks today highlight a newspaper article straight from the sad-but-true file. The Tampa Tribune reported over the weekend that an increasing number of male teachers are facing scrutiny because they've chosen to teach kindergarten or other early grades:
"It's very sad. Male students have come to me after they've been challenged by their own families and friends," [Pam] Fleege [an associate professor of early childhood education] said. "Some are accused of being pedophiles. But they mostly get a lot of, 'What are you going to say when a parent confronts you?"
Confrontations with suspicious parents are rare, teachers say. That could be because parents who are uncomfortable with a man teaching their children often request a female teacher.
Part of the problem, the article explains, could be today's atmosphere of rabid media coverage of sex crimes, coupled with the ripple effect felt when a male kindergarten teacher actually is arrested on sexual charges involving children, as happened last month in Florida. That kind of situation, of course, is a rarity. But, as the Education Wonks ask, how many talented male teachers are there in America who would really like to work with younger kids, but instead shy away from kindergarten because they fear their motivations will be questioned?