KNBC-TV, Kansas City, KS, USA

The National Education Association said men make up only 25 percent of teachers nationwide. But those numbers dwindle further at the elementary level, where 91 percent of teachers are women.

But why are there so few men in our classrooms?

Tyler Shannon teaches fourth grade in the Liberty School District.

“I wanted to get into teaching because I wanted to make a difference,” Shannon said.

Shannon is one of only four men at Shoal Creek Elementary School, KMBC’s Jere Gish reported.

“I’ve been in this business for 23 years as an assistant superintendent for human resources and it hasn’t gotten any better. I think the numbers have diminished,” said Liberty Assistant Superintendent Steve Flemming.

Gish reported that it is happening all over the country. Liberty’s numbers closely mirror the rest of the nation. Male teacher shortages affect all types of schools — both suburban and urban.

Tommy Moua is one of only three men at James Elementary in Kansas City, and he’s the only male classroom teacher there.

The former mechanic said he loves teaching third grade.

“I think it’s a passion to help kids learn because the pay is just not there,” Moua said.

Gish reported that is possibly the biggest reason there are so few men teaching young children. But low salaries aren’t the only reason.

“That’s kind of a stereotype that maybe keeps men from wanting to get into the profession, too. They feel that, ‘Well, I can’t be sensitive. I’m not supposed to be a sensitive-type person, especially to the younger kids,'” Shannon said.

There is concern that actions by male teachers can be taken the wrong way by kids and parents.

“When I first got into education, I always felt really apprehensive about putting my hand on somebody’s back and things like that. What people feel and what people think about male compared to a female doing that same thing,” Shannon said.

Educators are concerned that the lack of men in the classroom can hinder students, particularly boys who need male role models.

“There are quite a bit of families that the male is absent. They are not in the home. It is helpful to have a connection with a positive male,” James Elementary Principal Renee Sweeden said.

Some in the education field feel that since boys see so few male teachers, they believe it is a career they should not pursue.

Gish reported that male teachers are in demand, especially at the elementary level.