by Matthew Tabor

Ernst Lamothe Jr. of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that the number of male teachers nationwide has hit a 40-year low and that the number of male teachers in New York State elementary schools has halved in about 25 years:

Men make up less than 10 percent of elementary school teachers nationwide, and the total number of male teachers now stands at a 40-year low, according to the National Education Association.

The percentage of male elementary teachers in New York state has declined since its peak of 19 percent in 1980 to about 9 percent today.

The article is effusive with the human interest element – which really isn’t interesting at all – but it’s worth reading for the nuggets about the state of teaching in New York.

NEA President Reg Weaver says that there’s a perception that men go into education to “teach the subject,” while women enter to rear and nurture children. I don’t know who perceives the situation that way, but it would be interesting to know. He goes on to say that:

“Others see teaching as women’s work that’s not lucrative enough for them to provide for their families, which is very important to men,” added Weaver. But “having male teachers is essential, because for some kids, these are the only men they have in their lives.”

Weaver’s mind is stuck in the campy Sociology 101 class he took a generation ago, but we know that improved pay will bring higher-quality, talented people into the profession regardless of gender. Strong, intelligent people are a necessity in education for a host of reasons, one of which is influencing students who may not have two strong parents at home. Then it gets saucy:

Also, some people are suspicious of men who want to teach younger kids.

“When parents see newspaper articles detailing male inappropriate behavior with students in middle and high schools, some may feel wary about having their small children taught by males,” said Jody Siegle, executive director of the Monroe County School Boards Association.

This puzzles me. I won’t even address the absurdity of thinking any male teacher is, deep down, an insatiable pedophile for wanting to work with young students. Recent stings – like this one a few days ago – along with plenty of statistics show us that offenders come from all walks of life, not just teaching.