The National Education Association says it needs a few good men to become teachers. The number of male public school teachers hit a record 40-year low in 2005. They represent only about fourth of the total number of teachers.
Gilroy public schools have about 516 teachers — of that number only 132 are men. Gilroy is no different from other school districts across the nation experiencing a downward trend in the number of male teachers.
“Our teacher population should mirror that of the student population as far as not only just ethnicity, but gender as well,” says Principal Francisco Fuentes.
The National Education Association found men often shy away from teaching because of the salary levels and fear of being wrongfully accused of abusing a student. Stereotypes also contribute to the low numbers.
“I think a lot of it is the vision that kindergarten teachers are often female or any teacher for that matter in the elementary school ages are typically female. So just breaking through that barrier, once you are through it, it’s easy from there,” says David Hughes, a teacher with Marin Primary & Middle School.
Mario Moran is a kindergarten teacher at Marin Primary & Middle School. It’s a private school, which for years, has tried to do away with the stereotypes. Almost every classroom has both a female and male teacher who are role models for boys.
“Having so many male teachers we can understand their needs and what they need in the classroom and also what they need out in the playground,” says Hughes.
Today, universities like Clemson in South Carolina have programs to lure African American men to get degrees in education. There are Web sites like MenTeach creating networks for male teachers.
And according to MenTeach, some of these programs and incentives are paying off. For example, they are noticing that some men who retire from corporate America in their late fifties and early sixties are starting a career in education.
“In fact, two of our teachers whom we have just hired, male teachers, second career is education,” says Principal Fuentes.
Also, this year, Gilroy Unified is focusing on hiring more male teachers through local universities like San Jose State and Santa Clara University.