The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Males outnumbered when it comes to jobs in the classroom

When SMU junior Jeff Ordner was in high school, he often tutored at a local elementary school. After tutoring during his senior year, Ordner knew the classroom was where he wanted to work.

“There is nothing more pressing than properly educating our next generation of students,” says Ordner, a double major in education and political science.

Ordner is studying to be an elementary school teacher at SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. When he attends class he is often the only male in the room.

Less than eight percent of students pursuing teacher certification in elementary education at SMU are male.

Nationally the number of male schoolteachers is at a 40-year low. According to the National Education Association, only 25 percent of the three million teachers in the United States are male. In elementary schools, the number drops to a mere nine percent, down from 18 percent in 1981. The percentage nearly doubles to 35 percent in secondary education.

Elementary education is perceived as a low-status women’s profession according to Dr. Mary Patton, associate dean for the School of Education at TCU.

“Students come to me and say their parents won’t let them waste their money at TCU on an education degree,” says Patton.

Research from MenTeach, a non-profit seeking to help male teachers succeed in the classroom, reveals three key reasons why males are not flocking to the classroom: low salary and status, the idea that teaching is for women and the fear of accusation of child abuse.

Ordner believes teaching is a calling. He says that salary should not be the deciding factor in the decision to teach, although he does think teachers deserve to be paid more than they are currently.

“I think that if teachers’ wages were placed closer to importance in society, this would not be an issue,” Ordner says.

Ray Jordan, who taught at KB Polk Elementary in Dallas for one year, says he was reluctant to join the teaching profession because he was worried about supporting a family on a teacher’s salary.

“Men are expected to be the breadwinners for their families,” says Jordan.

Patton says she has a hard time recruiting for Texas Christian University’s education school due to the low salary teachers earn. At TCU, less than one percent of students majoring in elementary education are male.

“Bottom line, you can make a lot more money in other fields and it is not a status degree,” says Patton.

Another reason for hesitation is that men are often told teaching is women’s work.

Patton says women majoring in education are perceived to be trying to get their ‘MRS’ degrees.

SMU junior Alexander Croft says although he wants to be a teacher, he believes many men view teaching as a blow to the male ego.

Ordner is aware of the notion that teaching is a woman’s job but he still plans on making his impact through teaching.

“It is crucial for children of a young age to have a positive male role model,” Ordner says.

Besides the low pay and the idea that teaching for women, many men are reluctant to teach elementary school because they fear accusations of child abuse.

Jordan says he was always aware of his relationship with female students.

“I wanted to make sure that there were no appearances of impropriety,” says Jordan.

Croft, an education major, says since there is such a lack of males in the elementary ranks, many men feel vulnerable.

“Men can be misconstrued as a pervert with those little kids by parents,” Croft says.

Not only is it challenging to recruit males to become teachers, but keeping them in the classroom for more than a few years is a constant struggle.

“I wanted to pursue the arena of higher academics and the advocacy of children in other ways such as non-profits,” says Jordan.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, almost a third of America’s teachers, male or female, leave the field during their first three years, and almost half leave after five years.

Ordner has come across almost no males during his education but he hopes to change this statistic.

“I believe we need more male teachers, and I plan on being one of them,” says Ordner.

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