Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Shortage-Sighted

February 17, 2006 2 min read
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Concerning the article “Endangered Species” [November/ December]: “Financial worries drive men from the profession.” Are you implying that financial worries because of inadequate teaching salaries are a male prerogative? Financial worries drive teachers of both genders from the profession.

You neglected to mention the most significant reason that men are more likely to leave teaching for financial reasons than women. Women still have disgracefully far fewer opportunities to get [equal-] or better-paying jobs in other professions, regardless of their abilities. Women are still trapped by economic discrimination in lower-paying jobs in so many fields that female teachers are relatively well-paid compared with other educated women, while male teachers are relatively badly paid compared with other educated men.

The “endangered species” we should be worried about are the bright, hard-working, highly motivated female teachers trying to make a living under the growing financial pressures you mentioned, without the same options that their male counterparts have to apply financial pressure to the system by leaving for better-paying jobs elsewhere. If female teachers had the same opportunities outside of education that men have, you would have an even larger teacher shortage, and all teaching salaries would have to rise to retain sufficient teachers to keep schools open.

When women have a level playing field outside of education, when economic discrimination in other fields is significantly reduced or eliminated and education doesn’t have a captive pool of female talent to draw from at lower wages, wages for teachers will rise to a level where the field will be more attractive to men. Until women can earn a comparable salary ... in any field of their choice, they will continue to be underpaid in education as well as everyplace else, and fewer men will teach because fewer men will be willing to accept the pay they expect women to be resigned to. It is that simple. It is that unjust.

Kit Donner

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I am dumbstruck by the choice of cover art for your November/ December 2005 issue. Who in the world approved a graphic showing an exclusively Caucasian group of teachers to illustrate the shortage of male teachers in America? The cover graphic completely ignores the populations described in the text of the accompanying article as being most desperately in need of male teachers. This missed opportunity is most regrettable. The subliminal messages sent by the pictures and graphics we choose often leave a far more lasting impression than the words that accompany them. I sincerely hope that Call Me Mister, MenTeach, and other eminently worthwhile organizations are not linked to the apparent bias supported by the cover.

I am male, I am Caucasian, I am an educator, and I am stupefied. This regrettable lapse in both judgment and sensitivity is a tremendous disservice to the broader vision your publication has traditionally sought to foster.

Richard Follett

Warren County Junior High School

Front Royal, Virginia

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