Only 20 percent of teachers are men, a 40-year low. Only 10 percent are minority. The national student body, in contrast, is about half male and 40 percent minority. These figures come from the latest version of "The Status of The American Public School Teacher," which is put out every five years by the National Education Association, the nation's most powerful teachers union.
Quite appropriately, the report is designed to make the case for higher wages for the country's K-12 educators. (If the general rise in teacher salaries over the past 40 years is an indication, then it's been working).
One way is does that is by helping to create stories such as this widely reprinted AP piece, which asks (via the Arizona Daily Star):
So what makes teaching less attractive to men and minorities? A mix of factors, but mainly the fact that it's easier to earn more money with less stress in other fields, says the NEA, the nation's largest union with more than 2.7 million teachers and other members.
"It takes so many years to finally get a salary that is high enough to support a family," said Edward Kelley, a teacher at A.B. Combs Elementary in Raleigh, N.C. Kelley, a nationally board certified teacher with a master's degree, makes a salary of $65,000 in his 30th year.
Maybe, but aren't teachers the folks who are always telling us that they're not in it for the money? Pay is certainly an issue, but it's also balanced by other factors, including job security (guaranteed for most public school teachers after a few years on the job), work conditions, and scheduling concerns (summers off, or with extra pay, etc).
Th absolutely stupid certification requirements for teachers are as likely a culprit in the shortage of not just men and minorities but really sharp people overall in education. I've yet to meet a person who has taken an education course and raved about it; the typical education program is packed with mind-numbing courses that systematically weed out smarter students and provoke nothing but scorn from faculty in other disciplines. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is.
Similarly, teachers unions have made it increasingly difficult for people to get into teaching after their undergraduate years. Every time someone comes up with alternatives to the current union-dominated certification process, it gets shot to hell. Such entry barriers need to be examined every bit as much as pay, which really isn't half-bad once you factor in other things.