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Education's Guy Problem

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Men who express physical affection for small children could be accused of being pedophiles. Men who are caring and nurturing are sometimes assumed to be gay. Men cannot make sufficient money as teachers.

These perceptions, says a Newsweek.com article, are among the reasons why the number of male teachers is at a 40-year low. Only a quarter of the nation’s teachers are men, and that number drops to just 9 percent in elementary schools, according to the National Education Association.

Bart Tittle, a 24-year-old preschool teacher who makes about $25,000 per year, says it would be difficult to make a long-term commitment to teaching. "Right now I don’t have a wife, I don’t have kids," he said in the article. "Later in life it’s going to be much more challenging."

Additionally, if boys do not see male teachers they will think it’s a profession only for women, thus perpetuating the problem, says Reg Weaver, president of the NEA. Some efforts are underway to address the issue, however. For example, Pennsylvania has authorized funds to create a statewide recruitment program aimed at African-American men.

11 Comments

I have been teaching 9 years in elementary school. All of the above stereotypes are so true. Usually 1/2 of my parents are super excited to have their child have a male in the classroom. The other 1/2 are concerned that something is wrong with me. I am married, have a wife and small family, but the stereotype still exists. Honestly that and along with low pay are reasons I'm considering a different profession now.

I am fully aware of the stereotype that exists regarding male teachers. I think it's sad that a man is suspect of being a pedophile or homosexual simply because they want to help educate our children. I have a problem, however, with lack of pay being a reason men don't want to enter the teaching field. Last I checked male and female teacher's make the same salary. Does that mean that it's okay for women to make a lesser salary than men?

I have been teaching for over 30 years in secondary and elementary schools. I have never had any problems in the elementary school because I am male. In fact, just the opposite. Parents are excited about the prospect of a male teacher in the elementary school. The pay is ok for working 189 days per year-just under $70K. I would do it all over again in a heart beat.

Raise the pay and the men will stay. Male teachers will only be respected when all teachers are well paid and the profession respected. As long as education is considered a female field we will have mostly women in education.

Pedophiles are both men and women and the women seem to be getting more and more common. Any teacher who cannot control his or her urges for intimacy in check has no values or morals. Thoughts are one thing. Behavior is something else. No matter how hot a middle or high school boy is, it is necessary for a teacher to keep her feelings strictly to herself and if she cannot she needs to leave before she does something stupid and embarrass all of us. If she loves him, she will still love him when he is 18.

As for gay teachers it is the lies and garbage of the conservative "family values" Republican religious fundamentalists that has invaded our schools and tells parents that teachers should not be gay. The truth is 10% of the students are gay and they need role models too. Gay men like other gay men, not children. Children are perfectly safe around gay men and parents need to know that.

Schools need a nondiscrimination policy that is enforced and includes sexual orientation and gender identity. A parent who does not like the policy can always send their children to the Catholics so they can learn from an uncertified and underpaid not-teacher who also may well be a pedophile. Remember the pedophile priests?? And most of the ministers and church workers who were not priests and who have messed with kids have been part of conservative churches---usually Baptist.

Discriminating against teachers based on race, age, sex, ethnicity disability, sexual orientation or gender identity is wrong and illegal and parents should not be allowed to object to a teacher on any of those bases.

I get so tired of the argument that teaching needs to pay higher wages so more men will teach.

Jamie, thank you for asking why it's assumed that women are perfectly happy earning so little while men shouldn't settle for a low salary. This way of thinking completely undervalues women teachers and is so frustrating.

I agree with your sentiments Diane and Jamie, but, unfortunately, our society still considers the woman in a dual-income family to be the supplemental income. Consequently, since the majority of teachers are women. it's fine for society to keep teachers' pay minimal. It's also thge only thing directly controlled by the vote of the people. If the school budget is defeated pay is frozen.

MEN TEACHERS DONT TEACH MUCH BECAUSE OF THE PAY,THEY WANT MORE. RAISE THE SALLARY AND YOU GET MORE MALE TEACHERS

I am a male and I have taught for 20 years. I also had to coach and do second and third jobs as well. The salary is still the biggest thing for me because now I have college age children to help. To those who don't understand why men look for higher paying jobs. The simple fact is that regardless how progressive you think women have become they almost always expect the man to be the bread winner. That is why custody courts 95% of the time give custody to the women because they are the nurturers. The financial burden is usually placed on men as child support that they can pay and creates millions of deadbeat dads (unfairly so because child support is about 18% of your income per child). Needless to point out that if the courts think this way society as a whole does as well. Just trying to point out that only women got equal rights and men are still waiting for theirs.

Michael--where do I go to apply for a man to be the breadwinner? I have been both nurturer and breadwinner since my children were adopted. I have since picked up a Master's degree, but I still earn less than the median salary for a teacher in my kids' district. The male as breadwinner argument was not a good one when it was used to justify blatantly different salary scales for women in the 50s and it hasn't gotten any better today when traditionally female professions are paid less.

I think that all teachers should get the same chance at higher salaries. Male or female, we need more of them. All teachers, regardless of sex, race, creed etc...should have to continue their education yearly to keep up with current teaching skills. All teachers should go through a comprehensive mental examination and background check for any possible dangers to letting them continue teaching, Each Year! Because most of the female teachers I know have been raising their families on less than $25,000 dollars a year the male teachers that complain should further their education to make it worth the while of taxpayers to give them a raise.

Although the stereotypes are out there, my concern is that homosexual men are being talked about in the same sentence as pedophiles when it is known that the majority of pedophiles are straight men leching on little girls and boys.

I'm always amazed that we are in the year 2007 and people are still acting like a homosexual teacher is any more of an issue than a straight one. Amazingly, there have been many in education throughout the years, yet they are still stigmatized. As if they are incapable of teaching. Two of the best teachers I ever had are gay, and I didn't even know one was until I got to high school.

Meanwhile, I've heard countless stories of women teachers seducing young men. Why is no one concerned about that?

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