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When most people in America think of the typical preschool teacher, they probably don’t think of a male in that particular role. It is true that the majority of the nation’s preschool instructors have traditionally been women. But with the implementation of universal pre-K in New York City, aspiring preschool teacher Glenn Peters found out firsthand just how uncommon men can be in this particular position.
Peters recently attended a workshop in New York designed to provide career guidance and support for preschool teachers and while he was there, he says that the administrators did not know the code to unlock the men’s restroom, an indication of how rarely males are in attendance at the event.
Of the more than 1,000 preschool teachers that have been added to New York City schools for the 2014-15 school year, only a very small fraction of them are male. According to the latest labor statistics from 2012, fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s preschool and early education teachers are male and New York’s numbers reflect that.
Many feel that it is extremely unfortunate that there are not more men teaching preschoolers around the country. The City University of New York’s Early Childhood Professional Development Institute is heavily involved in trying to recruit men into positions of early education teaching but has found it difficult over the years, although recently there has been a slight uptick in the numbers of men teaching these foundational levels.
Sherry Cleary who is on the executive board at the Institute says that even the slight increase in the numbers of male preschool teachers in New York City is encouraging but there are still “very, very, very, very few men” teaching preschool.
And the truly unfortunate thing according to Cleary is that children enjoy having men as instructors. They enjoy being around men and they feel safe and trusting when they have males in educational roles.
Clearly says that men are needed and wanted as preschool educators and she believes the entire teaching profession would benefit from more men in that role. And so would the kids.