State has lack of male teachers in classroom


Posted on May 8, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Antwan Harris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @antwanharris

NEW ORLEANS -- A busy fourth grade class at Capdau Charter School on Canal Street is learning fractions in what seems to be a conventional classroom setting.

The only difference is their teacher is a man, which is something that is happening less in classrooms around the state.

Men make up 25 percent of teachers in the classroom nationwide, but that number is far less in Louisiana. Here, only 18 percent of all teachers are male, or one male teacher for every 77 students. That's the fourth lowest rate in the nation.

Capdau Principal Desmond Moore said these numbers could reflect how we value education.

“I think we live in a current day in education where how we view teachers has changed. The value has lessened somewhat,” he said.

He is one of two male principals in the new beginnings school district and only one of six men on staff at his school with a student population close to 400.

Moore said as the need for men in education grows, some deterrents could be pay -- or having to wear a number of hats -- both inside and outside the classroom.

"I think we are in a situation where the outside factors are hurting us as far as the recruitment and keeping male teachers in the schools,” Moore said.

According to the Institute of Education Sciences, male teachers are paid anywhere from $40,000 to $50,0000 per year on average.

Darren Lewis, the principal of Lake Area High School in Gentilly, said the father-figure role is another factor that can make some males shy away from the classroom, especially early childhood education.

"I'm not quite old enough to have children 18 years old, but I have students that age who look at me as a father figure. Some go as far to say, ‘Hey dad.' But I try to correct them and tell them not to do that."

In Louisiana, there is just one male teacher for every 60 students. So what can be done to bring in more male teachers to the metro area?

"It begins with getting the message out. Half the battle when it comes to getting a diverse core of teachers is getting the message out,” said James Williams of Teach for America.

Williams works with about 50 schools in the district recruiting teachers. He said several corps members have yet to complain about pay or placement, mainly because they want to teach.

“It really comes down to their ability to envision themselves making an impact in the classroom or it being a great fit for their skills or motivations,” he said.

Director Sametta Brown has spent the last few years concentrating on early childhood education where the numbers are the lowest.

"At the elementary level, you rarely see a Pre-K male teacher. That is one area we would like to improve. If they just give us a chance, they will love working with the little children,” said Brown, the CEO of the New Beginnings School Foundation.

Moore said, "At the end of the day, we can't lose sight of the humanity in education. A big part of that is assuring that we have good people, male or female."

And that means reaching out to the right people to reach young minds.