The nation’s public school teachers are overwhelmingly white women — outnumbering men by a 3-to-1 margin — and they have an average age of 43, according to a survey by the largest school union.
A profile of the nation’s teachers, issued yesterday by the National Education Association, “reveals a profession that is struggling to provide role models of both sexes and all races within a teaching work force that is predominantly white (90 percent) and female (79 percent),” the NEA said in a statement accompanying its 387-page report.
The report says the ratio of male-to-female teachers “now stands at a 40-year low.”
Black teachers are just 6 percent, a drop from 8 percent 30 years ago. Other minority teachers increased from 4 percent to 5 percent since 1971.
Reg Weaver, NEA president, said the survey “includes some strong warning calls that can’t be ignored. People are leaving our profession because of the low pay, and we’re struggling to recruit and retain male teachers and teachers of color. These are areas that we must address and correct.”
However, the survey of 1,467 of the nation’s 3.7 million public school teachers showed that unsatisfactory pay was sixth on a list of 10 possible hindrances to teachers, chosen by 102 or just 6.9 percent of those surveyed.
Of 400 teachers who said they did not plan to remain teachers until retirement, 149 listed low salary as the main reason. Sixty-three percent of the 400 listed working conditions, problems with administrators, students, parents, or other problems.
The report titled “Status of the American Public School Teacher 2000-2001,” completed with the assistance of the American Federation of Teachers, says the average household income of teachers nationwide is $77,739.
Seventy-three percent of teachers said they were married, 15 percent single, and 12 percent separated, divorced or widowed. More whites (75 percent) than minorities (61 percent) said they were married.
Teachers’ average income for the nine-month school year was $43,262, and 62 percent of them reported earning more than half their household income.
Almost two-thirds of teachers received supplemental income averaging $3,528.
The survey shows that 32.3 percent of teachers stay in the profession 10 to 19 years and 30.7 percent stay 20 to 45 years until retirement. Thirty-seven percent stay less than 10 years.
Other survey findings:
Nearly half of respondents had 15 or more years of full-time teaching experience. More than half have a master’s degree or six years of college.
The mean age for all teachers in 2001 was 43, four years older than 1966. During the past 35 years, teachers in the 50-and-older age bracket have increased 10 percent, from 26 percent of all teachers in 1966 to 36 percent in 2001. But teachers under age 30, who were 34 percent of the profession, are now 13 percent.
Just 21 percent of teachers were male nationwide, with just 14 percent in the Southeast. In senior high school, 43 percent are male teachers; in middle or junior high school, 25 percent; and just 9 percent in elementary schools. Males are more likely to teach in larger schools.
Asked for “three main reasons” why they are still teaching, most listed “value of education in society,” “desire to work with young people” and “interest in a subject-matter field.”