Archive for Monday, December 11, 2006

Few men teach at elementary level

December 11, 2006


Don't blame Jim Rome if sometimes he feels a little out of place.

"Most every meeting I go to is all women and me," the 58-year-old first-grade teacher said.

Rome is one of a rare breed of men - those who decided to become not just teachers but elementary teachers.

"There's not many," said Rome, who has taught at the elementary level for 34 years, including the last 11 years at New York School, 936 N.Y. "I did see one male elementary teacher once, somewhere. But I didn't know who he was."

A check of classroom teaching staff in the Lawrence school district shows the city's 15 elementary schools have a total of 35 men teaching in them, compared with 260 women.

That means men make up only 12 percent of the elementary teaching force, according to Mary Rodriguez, the district's executive director of human resources.

Forty-year low

Lawrence isn't unique in having few men teaching in its schools.

According to the National Education Association, the number of male teachers now stands at a 40-year low: Of the nation's 3 million teachers, only 24.9 percent are men. That's pretty close to what it is in Lawrence. Out of the district's 611 classroom teachers, 148 are men, or 24.2 percent.

Nationally, the percentage of male teachers in elementary schools has fallen from a high of 18 percent in 1981 to 9 percent today - a figure that is lower than Lawrence's 12 percent.

"There has been a push to try to get more males into elementary," Superintendent Randy Weseman said.

However, Weseman said when teaching positions come open, the district seeks the best person.

First grade teacher

Jim Rome, a first grade teacher at New York Elementary School, explains what he likes about being a teacher. Enlarge video

"We don't set out and say we're going to hire a male or a female. It's all pretty much open," Weseman said. "You certainly like to have some male role models in the elementary."

Weseman, who started as a high school teacher himself, said he took the track most male teachers take - the secondary level.

"The common career path is that males tend to gravitate more toward secondary because they tend to want to coach (sports) more," he said.

However, women still far outnumber men even as high school teachers. At Lawrence's four junior highs and two high schools, 62 percent of the classroom teachers are women and 38 percent are men, according to Rodriguez.

'More feminine'

At Kansas University, about 125 to 150 students enter the School of Education each year, said Marc Mahlios, department chairman of curriculum and teaching.

Of those, between two-thirds and three-fourths are women, Mahlios said.

Traditionally, for women, elementary teaching jobs have been viewed by married couples as the family's secondary income source, he said.

"Many teachers are also mothers," he said. "One of the things that is attractive about an elementary teaching job is the fact that they have summers off when their children do. So there's no conflict between their work and that of their children."

For men, that's not as much of an issue because they generally are not the family's primary caregiver, Mahlios said.

"In married couples, there's been the view that men are the principal income within the family," he said. "It's also been socially viewed that a secondary income with teaching is acceptable. That's clearly changed with the women's movement, but not entirely."

Jim Rome, a first-grade teacher at New York School, works on reading exercises with his students. Rome, who has taught at the elementary level for 34 years, including the last 11 years at New York School, is one of only a few male teachers at elementary schools in the Lawrence school district - and nationally.

Jim Rome, a first-grade teacher at New York School, works on reading exercises with his students. Rome, who has taught at the elementary level for 34 years, including the last 11 years at New York School, is one of only a few male teachers at elementary schools in the Lawrence school district - and nationally.

Looking ahead

What does the future hold for men in teaching?

Shortages of teachers in math, science and technology subjects at the secondary level probably will mean more men will seek out those jobs, Mahlios said.

"Those tend to be fields, especially math and science, that have attracted more men than women," he said.

Men gravitate toward teaching at the university and secondary levels because the environment is more academic, he said. In contrast, the environment is more nurturing at the elementary level, Mahlios said.

"For many males, the environment is decidedly more feminine than masculine," he said. "And I think that's a very real issue."


geekin_topekan 11 years, 1 month ago

Aaurgh!!Leave the children with the women where they belong!!

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

I dont think men are exluded from teaching. I think it would be illegal to screen out during selection process that would be discrimination.

Does everyone know it costs 1million a year for all day kindergarte>>>>?????

Nikki May 11 years, 1 month ago

My daughter has a male teacher this year in 3rd grade. Sure he does things differently than her other treachers have, but that's the point. You know many grade schoolers don't have male role models at all. My daughter's teacher is NOT a girly man. In fact this year, she's all about football because her teacher likes it.

Anyway, I don't have a point except to say that men as teachers are great and it's too bad we don't have more.

Shardwurm 11 years, 1 month ago

The bottom line: MORE MONEY.

I'm not sure the article actually said that...but anything published about schools these days has a hidden meaning. In this case:


budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

We cant pay teachers more money, all day kindergarten costs 1mill per year and we have over 10mill in repairs that need to be done. We dont have the complete list together and keep in mind we have alot of projects already going on that may need additional funds.

Christine Pennewell Davis 11 years, 1 month ago

pogo your post screams of being discriminated against. No I do not know you and I do hope I am wrong. I have known several male teachers over the years never once hearing about unfair hiring or discrimination. 1 mil. we know budwhysir, it will be ok more like two wehen it s all done.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

momma thanks for the word of encouragement, I am afraid that everyone is forgetting the facts with all of the school articles being ran. We have jumped from who to blame for canceling school, to cost issues, and now to the real hidden problems of not enough male teahcers

mom_of_three 11 years, 1 month ago

When I was in elementary school over 30 years ago, I had a male teacher for the 5th and 6th grade. (and in 6th grade, there were two male and one female teacher). There are several male teachers at my kids' elementary school. We lost a couple when the district made cuts several years ago. But we lost a great female teachers, too.
I don't know if it is that the district isn't hiring them or there just isn't any. But there are many more in the junior high and high schools.

Kanzen 11 years, 1 month ago

Once again, I'm absolutely amazed by the ignorance demonstrated here concerning the realities of education and the outright animosity toward teachers. There are not many male elementary school teachers because of the low pay. Period! Male teachers are not discriminated against because we are not macho enough; on the contrary, we can pretty much write our own ticket. There is a huge demand for male teachers because so many of today's students have no men in their lives and can benifit from spending time with a male roll model.

Maybe some of you anti-education posters would derive some benefit in volunteering at a school for a couple of hours a week. It would help children and may open your eyes to the reality of the situation. Lord knows you need something to do with all your free time.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

Kanzen I have no free time

however I do see where you are coming from, seems to be alot of squeeling going on in here. And the real issue is that it costs 1 mill per year for all day kindergarten.

J Good Good 11 years, 1 month ago

My kid is in third grade and has a male teacher this year and had Mr. Rome in first grade. Both really great teachers! Some young kids don't have the best male role models in their lives, so I am happy to see good men teaching in grade school.

budwhysir 11 years, 1 month ago

Although Kanzen, I do not believe that it is the schools responsibility to provide children with a male role model. We send children to school to learn knowledge.

Why would male teachers be so offended by the payscale when the female teachers keep taking the jobs??? Thats kind of siLLY

bearclaws 11 years, 1 month ago

My college experience turned me away from education. I started out wanting to teach secondary sciences like physics and chemistry. The School of Ed. routinely spoke of bringing more men into the teaching profession. However, their actions proved to be just the opposite. When it came to classroom observations and student teaching opportunities, I was assigned to physical education classes every time. It turns out that I was not alone, as many of the other guys I spoke with complained of the same situation. The advising staff kept assuring me that the subsequent semesters would allow me to be in a more traditional classroom environment. Never happened. I finally tired of the games and moved over to the School of Business in order to get my degree. This was 15 to 20 years ago, and I certainly hope things have changed at ol' KU.

rhd99 11 years, 1 month ago

Few men teach. They want a business career that makes lots of money. For some teachers, they don't earn the kind of money that would attract them to stay for 20 or more years. Some teachers stay because they care about children. Some want more money. Those who stay & teach may earn much less during the life of that career. Those who go into business like bearclaws are going to be better off financially in the future. Education & business are two great fields, but the difference in pay scale wildly goes off the charts.

justthefacts 11 years, 1 month ago

It's called "The feminization of povery". Teaching used to be done almost entirely by men. When women got into the field, in the late 1800's I believe, the salaries started dropping and have continued to reflect the nation's bias against paying women the same salary as males. It has happened with every profession that women were "allowed" to pursue.

For myself, I think it is very telling that our nation pays almost every profession a higher average salary then teachers. We value legal services, car repair, plumbing help, sports stars and entertainers far more then we value the people to whom we turn to teach our children. What does that say about our value system? And what kinds of people do you think are attracted to a system that tells it to do such important work for less pay then the average business person makes?

Personally, I think the system should be overhauled; GOOD teachers should be highly paid and greatly revered. Instead, they aren't paid very well and they are required to do more with less all the time. It is no wonder to me that more and more parents are choosing to home school their children.

As for males teaching in elementary school, I am fairly sure that young boys would greatly benefit from seeing and being around more good male role models. I have known more then one young man whose life got positively turned around by having a good male teacher take an active interest in them! It changed their lives!

It's one thing to preach the importance of learning. It's a far better thing to show it is important by actions.

rhd99 11 years, 1 month ago

In other words, to the education bureaucrats who revere our teachers, put your money where your mouths are, you hypocrites! Justthefacts, you are right, good teachers need to be paid more, but how do we get that done?

Janet Lowther 11 years, 1 month ago

Male elementary teachers are a rarity. It seems traditionally male elementary teachers who were any good moved into administrative roles early in their careers.

There have been a lot of teachers in my family, going back to the late eighteen hundreds, but only one of them was male and he only taught for a couple of years and then was an administrator for thirty-odd.

I have to admit that as a shy person I avoided the School of Education like the plague, but I know that if they had stuck me with observing phys ed classes like they did bearclaws, I'd have been out of there like a shot. . .

JayCat_67 11 years, 1 month ago

I got Phys Ed a lot when I was subbing over in Grandview, MO. But nobody else wanted it. I thought it was pretty easy. Admittedly, I liked getting other assignments too, but I still had a pretty good time with it.

Kanzen 11 years, 1 month ago

I don't understand what this article has to do with all day Kindergarten, but since there is so much whining about it, I'll try to explain.

Expectations for childrens' learning have risen dramatically in the past several years. No Child Left Behind mandates that all children do well on standardized tests (note that I did not say "receive a better education") and children are being held responsible for learning more and more at earlier and earlier ages. This is coupled with the fact that more children are coming to school less ready to learn and with less learning and understanding of their environments under their belts than in previous decades. All day Kindergarten has been proven to be an extremely effective way to deal with these realities by almost doubleing the amount of education children get during a very formative period in their educational carreers. Once again, this is an example of REALITY in the world of education.

SpeedRacer 11 years, 1 month ago

There have been published stories supporting Pogo's assertions. One more aspect which makes men think twice about teaching...I know three male elementary teachers, one here and 2 in other districts, who are specifically told not to hug the kids or to place themselves in a position which could be misunderstood. This is what our society has come to, and I certainly would not be a teacher under that sort of pressure.

Sean Livingstone 11 years, 1 month ago

The same phenonmenon with Engineering... too few girls in this line.... where have all the girls gone to?

mom_of_three 11 years, 1 month ago

There are 40 male teachers at LHS out of approximately 97. So maybe the male teachers want to teach in the junior high and high school levels as Weseman pointed out in the article. Maybe men don't believe they have the right instincts to teach at the elementary level.
I had several male teachers in junior high and several of them did not coach at all.
All in all, it takes the right amount of patience to be a teacher.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 years, 1 month ago

Men who go into elementary education are hired right away, because schools do want more male teachers. Men aren't going into elementary, in part, because of the fear of being accused of bad things. Elementary aged children like to hug their teachers. Even female teachers are told not to hug back, even though most do. However an affectionate male teacher can get labeled a molester. It's not worth the small pay to risk getting falsely accused. The sad thing is child molesting has probably risen, because we can't separate affection from sexuality. In the Middle School where I teach we have formed dress code committees, because the male teachers are afraid to tell a girl she is dressed inappropriately. They send them to the female teachers for discipline. At this age level they don't believe in hugging teachers, so that's not much of a problem.

justthefacts 11 years, 1 month ago

Call me an old fuddy duddy if you'd like, but I am sad that teachers cannot (a) hug a child that needs it and (b) paddle a child that needs it. I got both from my gradeschool teachers, and my parents backed it up 110% when I got home. Taking hugs and harm out of the teacher's bag of tricks only further prevents them from doing a good job of stepping in to do what parents cannot or will not do (teach their children all they need to know in life!). Prohibiting hugging and paddeling doesn't prevent bad people from stepping over the boundaries of what is appropriate. It merely protects the innocent from unjust accusations, a little more.

And more money for teacher's salaries is a noble goal, in my opinion, but who is willing (able) to pay more in the way of taxes to support it, and/or what other government provided subsidies (errrr I mean services) are you able/willing to cut in order to up teacher's salaries and not have a tax hike? I'm not in favor of socialized anything (take a look at the countries that have socialized services; the quality is severely less then we have come to need/prefer/want).

I think the answer may be a complete and total overhaul of the system. Pay teachers twice was most professionals make. Then watch the young people flock back to it. But also, make teachers 200% more accountable for the outcomes, on a one-on-one basis if possible. Parents who do not actively participate in their child's education get no vote/voice in whether to retain the teacher(s) in question. The more help a parent gives their child (and/or the teacher/system) the greater weight their vote has in the yearly review of whether to retain the teacher. That of course would lend itself to a situation where teachers would be afraid to get cross-wise with over-involved nutty parents. But with enough rationale parents involved, it should usually be only a question of making sure that most involved parents realize the benefits being provided by a given teacher. However, to avoid too much partisan campaigning, give final veto power vested in a neutral board/commission who aren't going to be as emotional about the decision.

That is only one of many ideas for making changes. One thing remains clear in my mind. If we continue to pay teachers less then we pay plumbers, and not hold parents more accountable for the lousy parenting jobs they're doing, our toilets will be in good working order but our kids will be going down them.

bennric 11 years, 1 month ago

Folks, you need to look at the real issue. Its not about the lack of male teachers, it's about the attitude and belief within the nation and specifically Kansas that women are only qualified to be care givers. With the good old boys club alive and thriving in the area, women are being held out of leadership positions and are resigned to support and care giving types of employment.

"Traditionally, for women, elementary teaching jobs have been viewed by married couples as the family's secondary income source."

Of course it's a second income because women are not hired in the private sector for leadership roles. The attitude is why give a woman a job when there is an equally qualified man for the position.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 1 month ago

JTF, you're right, teachers used to be all men. Back in those days, women were not expected or allowed to work outside the home at all, unless they were widows or "old maids". Women were also considered basically stupid, and not intelligent enough to learn what was necessary to be a teacher. But then, that held true for all jobs.

Even when women started becoming teachers, they were still expected to quit as soon as they got married. Horror of horrors that the little ones might actually see and be exposed to on a daily basis a woman who might be "in the family way".

Clear up until the 1940s, and even later in some areas, women were expected to quit teaching when they married.

My 6th grade teacher, back in the dinosaur days, was a man. A dangerous age for a man to teach, quite frankly, since he taught all those blossoming young girls with raging hormones.

I agree that probably one major reason more men don't go into teaching in elementary school is because of the fear of being accused of something improper. It's a legitimate fear, because we all know that just an accusation means many people will think they're guilty, regardless of how much they deny it.

Harry_Manback 11 years, 1 month ago

There are many other professions other than teaching that are dominated by women (or men). What about nursing, public relations, social welfare or engineering? Why do the KU MBA and engineering programs have less than 25% female enrollment, but public relations, social welfare and education classes only have about 25% male enrollment?

classclown 11 years, 1 month ago

"Now if they're the "girly men" Arnold referred to..."


Has Arnold ever actually used that term? Or is he just associated with it due to the abundant use of that term by Hans and Franz?

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