Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Seeing teachers

Encourage more men and minorities to teach

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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 — something no young citizen should doubt, but too many do.

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.

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.

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