Who’s in front of the class? There are more black, Hispanic and Asian teachers than there were in 1987, a new study shows — but at the front of our nation’s classrooms, men are a shrinking minority.
The report, published by the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, compared survey data from 1987-88 and 2011-12. Over this period, the teaching force went from 12.4 percent minority to 17.3 percent minority. That’s still less than the student body, which was 44 percent minority in 2011-12, but it’s progress.
Just by being there, minority teachers show minority boys and girls, especially those from low socioeconomic-status backgrounds, that they too can achieve respected positions in American society.
So it’s really too bad that the number of black, non-Hispanic teachers went up only 25 percent — less than whites, Asians and Hispanics.
The other disappointment was gender. Teaching was already a female-dominated profession, and it became more so when it added more than a million women and fewer than 200,000 men, net. Now, just 24 percent of teachers nationally are men.
There’s a real need to get more men into teaching. That may take a variety of efforts, much like those we see aimed at getting women into male-dominated fields. At the very least, the notion that only women should work with small children must be destroyed.
It’s time to pursue strategies to recruit and retain more men and minorities to study education and join the classroom.
The teaching profession may never be a perfect demographic mirror of the nation’s students, but it should be closer than it is.