I have written on this blog before about the achievement gap between boys and girls. This gap is often not emphasized in New Mexico as much as racial and ethnic achievement gaps, although it is just as wide.
So I was struck this week, as I was looking through some databases, by the small percentage of male teachers in this country. According to the National Education Association’s annual “Rankings and Estimates” report, 23.9 percent of public school teachers in the United States are men. New Mexico is a little above the national average, with 24.8 percent male teachers. States range from a high of 33.1 percent in Kansas to a low of 17.5 percent in Virginia.
So why does this matter? I don’t pretend to know for sure, but these numbers suggest to me that boys don’t have enough male role models in their schools. It seems it would be very easy for boys to get the impression that school and learning are feminine pursuits, if three-quarters of their teachers are women. My former colleague Juan Carlos Rodriguez wrote about this issue as it relates to Hispanic students with predominantly Anglo teachers.
I also encountered a related issue when I wrote this story about a new mentoring program. The head of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central New Mexico told me male mentors are harder to come by than female mentors. Women are just more likely to volunteer for mentorship programs, while men are most needed.
I don’t know how you encourage more men to be mentors and teachers, but I think it’s a conversation worth having. What do you think?