When I was in grade 5, there was a student teacher doing his practicum for part of the year. Yes, I said "his." Until that time, I have no memories of a male influence within the school setting, other than the principal, of course. In fact, things didn't change all that much in junior high and in high school.
Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the number of males in America's classrooms is at an all-time low: a meager 21%. They cite three major reasons for the decline over the years: fear of sexual harassment lawsuits, low job status, and the view of teaching as "women's work."
I can understand the first reason. News stories are all too common these days about alleged improper teacher-student relations. (Although it does seem more typical at the moment for the media to report on a virago, rather than a lecher.) All it takes is a whiff of this sort of thing and your career could be finished. We work in a profession where if you say you "love children," someone will take it too literally and you'll end up in jail and have a pimp named "Buddha."
I consider myself to be a decent person. I would never consider pursuing anything other than a teacher-student relationship with a young man. This is not to say that there aren't some nice-looking boys that pass through our halls, but I'm just not interested. (I'm certain they aren't, either.) However, it never really crosses my mind that one of them might accuse me of something. How interesting that it does for many men...enough to keep them from teaching.
Low job status? Check. But that is of equal issue for both sexes. This time, I have to wonder what the women are thinking. If we know it's "low status," then why do we go into the profession while some men avoid it for the same reason? Is it a biological thing? Men with low status don't attract mates...women are looking for more security than a mere teacher could provide? Is it a competition sort of issue---men checking their status against other men?
And the last: teaching is perceived as "women's work." Please don't expect me to go off on a feminista rant here, because I'm just not going to. There are enduring stereotypes for both sexes in our culture. Teaching happens to be one of them. I don't think rehashing all of that will do anything about addressing the real issue: how do we get (and keep) more men in the classroom?
It's kinda funny. The article doesn't really mention what to do about that.