Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Arlington Public Schools should seek more men as teachers

Arlington Public Schools is seeking a teaching staff that broadly reflects the diversity of its students.  That's a laudable goal.  But Arlington Public Schools is ignoring students' and teachers' sex in striving toward diversity.  That's hypocritical and deplorable.

At the Arlington School Board meeting on September 9, Superintendent Patrick Murphy detailed Arlington Public Schools efforts in four pages of his First Day of School 2010 presentation.   According to Murphy's figures, 22% of Arlington Public Schools teachers are non-white.  The district is seeking to hire more non-white teachers.  This year the share of non-white teachers hired was 27%, compared to 18% last year.  Since the substantial issue of concern shouldn't be statistics themselves, but students' interactions with teachers, these statistics would be more informative if provided on a full-time-equivalent basis.  If non-white teachers are more likely to be part-time teachers, then students' over-all experience of being taught is whiter than Murphy's statistics indicate.  Also useful to know, but not reported in Murphy's presentation, is that 52% of Arlington Public School students are non-white.

Murphy's presentation totally ignored the sex composition of the teaching staff.  Arlington Public School students are about 51% boys.  Boys are different from girls.  That difference is probably more important personally to most boys and girls than is race and ethnicity.  Do leaders of the Arlington Public School system care about the sex composition of its teachers?  Apparently not.

Boys would benefit from having more men as teachers. Nationally, only 15% of elementary school teachers are men.  Nationally among secondary school teachers, 41% are men.  Boys are most likely to first encounter a man as a school teacher in physical education classes.  While boys' distinctively physicality should be welcomed and celebrated, men have more to offer boys and girls than lessons in physicality.  Sensational and misandristic media preoccupation with some men's evil acts can cause children and adults to forget the many good men.  Many men are dedicated, self-sacrificing, and brave.  Arlington Public Schools should explicitly and seriously seek more men as teachers.

Note: here's a worksheet with data and source links concerning the race and sex composition of Arlington Public Schools' students and teachers

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