by Mike Baker - Schaumburg, IL

After changing careers in 2003 to become a teacher, I believed what a lot of people said about finding a job as a teacher in grades K-5. People said that there was a teacher’s shortage and with a teaching staff at any elementary school averaging more than 92 percent female, a man with a teaching certificate, a Master’s degree in education and a diverse background would have no problem getting interviews.

Well what a shock it has been since 2003. I have substitute taught in Arlington Heights, Barrington, Schaumburg, Bensenville, and Carpentersville, while learning Spanish to become bilingual certified in the near future.

Many districts overwhelmingly hire females at the K-5 level and most often recent college graduates, who they can hire at a lower wage because of their lack of experience and education. This is at the expense of allowing students a chance to learn from more qualified teachers with more diverse backgrounds and teaching styles.

Many students over the years have said that I have been the first and only male teacher that they have had since they have been at school. There are men out there who want to be full-time teachers and all I’m asking is that we have as equal a shot at interviewing and obtaining a position, as the overwhelmingly amount of female candidates who are obtaining full-time teaching positions have at the present time. Help from current teachers and principals would be great. But getting a tenured teacher and principal at the elementary level to help, when they can keep silent and not do anything is hard to overcome.

I believe that many school districts, including the ones that I have mentioned, need to finally show proof that they are trying their best to hire the most qualified and diverse teaching staffs and hearing from the public would not be a bad idea.