by Mike Baker - Schaumburg, IL

I had to laugh in frustration at the recent article by Corinne Hess on why more men don’t teach in schools.

I’m a elementary substitute teacher with a master’s degree in education, who in 2002 switched from working in the business world for more than 14 years and went back to school to get my degree.

When I entered the program, I was told of the shortage of teachers and especially male teachers at the elementary level.

I graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and am still looking for a full-time job. There are men like me who love to teach, and given the opportunity to work will provide students with something they rarely ever see in the elementary classroom.

But this will not happen until things change. First, unions such as Tim Davis’s Elgin Area U46, should push administrators to look for more male candidates at the college level and allow men like me, who have changed careers, the opportunity to interview for positions — and to accept a lower wage than what is currently on teacher pay scales to work in the classroom for a predetermined time period.

Second, the more than 91 percent of female teachers at the elementary level who help principals determine who is hired should be more open to working with a male teacher and seek out more male candidates.

Schools in Bensenville, Barrington, Carpentersville, Palatine and Schaumburg hire recent graduates with a bachelor’s degree, usually women in their 20s. Most principals justify the hires by telling you they don’t discriminate based on your degree and will hire a master’s degree if they have “good reason.”

A good reason to hire according to union contracts is not paying a person with a master’s degree more money to teach in a regular classroom, despite having more life experience and a better education versus a recent college graduate.

Elementary teaching staffs should consist of the most diverse and best qualified teachers, not the most inexpensive!