Why More Men Aren't Teachers

by Kelly Amis

I think this op-ed in Sunday's New York Times was really interesting; it's almost as if the answer to the title's question "Why Don't More Men Go Into Teaching?" was right there on the page, but writer Motoko Rich isn't quite ready to see it.

Here's the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/sunday-review/why-dont-more-men-go-into-teaching.html

Below is a quick Letter to the Editor I wrote in response. Two things I left out of the letter for brevity's sake were:

  • OF COURSE more women go into teaching because they are still the primary caregivers in families and the schedule aligns with their children's; that's not a "maybe."
  • The New York Times itself (although I adore it!) plays a role in safeguarding the current policies and structures around teaching that keep lots of qualified people out if it. How? The NYT has provided the nation's 2nd largest teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers, with paid-for, "faux" op-ed space in its Sunday opinion section since the 1970's. To my knowledge, there is nothing else like it (there were some faux-peds by a testing company awhile ago but they didn't last long, can someone confirm who had those?). I wonder what the AFT pays for these and why it receives such special privilege? I wonder if anyone can buy the same faux-ped space (and yes I just coined "faux-ped"!). I would love to see someone investigate this, because this is prime policy analysis real estate and it doesn't seem to follow journalistic ethical standards that it be sold to only one special interest group. Hmm.

Anyway, here's the letter:
"Why Don't More Men Go Into Teaching?" asked Motoko Rich on Sept. 7, 2014. Good question. More men are entering nursing and becoming stay-home dads; for the latter, it should follow that more would like the school schedule of a teacher's job. As a former teacher and long-time education equality advocate, I have an explanation. Teaching requires a college degree, knowledge and talent that not everyone has, but it is unionized along the lines of a factory job. Why should teachers have such strong job protections that even abusive or chronically absent teachers can not be fired? Until that changes neither prestige nor compensation will increase considerably, and men--having relatively better-paid and more prestigious options available to them--will continue to look outside of the classroom for work. If we want men to rethink teaching, we need to transform it first.


Posted on September 9, 2014 and filed under by Kelly Amis.