Sunday, December 16, 2012

Don't know what to think

There are no words for the tragedy. It's unimaginable. Every adjective in the English language over the past few days has been used to describe this horror, so I will not add to the list.

I do not presume to have the answers like many on TV or Facebook have. Every social matter in this country is so intertwined with a million other issues we will never gain a consensus on what is good and decent. Everything is polarized. If you need to raise taxes to help others, one group goes nuts and if you take away funding for anything, another group goes nuts.

Since no one can be apeaised we go into blame mode. In this case the blame has run the obvious gamut: guns, parents, schools, society, mental illness, media, etc. What becomes noticeable is if you listen to the pundits, message boards or other social media is that there are always a few "blame-ables" that seem to repeat themselves. If I were a classroom teacher I might even draw a venn diagram to see what shared opinions are voiced after each tragedy.

If the answers are so obvious why are they not addressed? I'm not talking about knee jerk reactions that are short term solutions i.e. maximum security schools or for everyone to live in fear of their neighbors. What is the reasoning to not addressing societies ill's?

Many leaders will tout Christian values but enact policies that hurt many people and benefit a select few. I can't understand why we have to have winners and losers. And before anyone calls me a socialist, I am not against someone with initiative making a lot of money, but rather in favor of policies that don't create an unequal playing field.  If we looked after everyone and not a lucky few I wonder what our society would look like.

This clip is what I believe our society could be. Many winners few losers.

This is one area where teachers thrive. This is why I believe the teachers who perished are heroes. During their careers, they juggled all the factors that would bring each student down and managed to address them so that they might become a viable member of the classroom community. They understood, just like every other teacher in the world, that when everyone in the class succeeds individually, the classroom community thrives as well. Just like when a factory employs the entire town, everyone wins. Low unemployment, dedicated workers for the factory, many winners.

 There is little doubt that once the mourning period is over, everyone will go back to life as usual and nothing will be addressed to prevent the next tragedy and it will be second verse, same as the first.

Two questions that frequently cross my mind when it comes to our society.

1. Why does it take the death of a teacher, EMT, police officer or firefighter for people to take a step back and realize how valuable they really are to advancing our society?

 2. Why do we feel the exact opposite about many of our country's political and corporate leaders yet, as a population we give them so much influence?

As a member of this American society who feels as though I have very little say, I guess I am looking to be inspired by our society. I am not sitting around waiting for something to happen. Being a parent, teacher and coach I play a role in our community but I don't feel our leaders care to know what affects our communities (good or bad).

I think this song really sums up my thoughts, questions, and hopes for the future.

RIP to the heroes. Those who sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others
RIP to the children who undoubtedly were able to light up their parents hearts just by smiling.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Everything I learned about education reform I learned from college football

They say sports is a microcosm of society. Sports are big business. Big businesses have their own brand: Apple, Microsoft, Ford, Google, Walmart, Coke, Nike, to name a few.

The NFL, NBA, MLB all are big corporations that have their brands that they will worship like the sacred cow and will go to war with anyone who will try to mettle with it.

In the NBA, if a player or coach criticise a referee a huge fine is levied to the offender. Does anyone see this as an authoritative way of silencing free speech?

The commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell has been second guessed this season by he handling of a bounty scandal. He was the judge and jury and felt his brand of justice was enough.

Professional sports show how society plays out social life and how corporate behaviors shape our ways of thinking.

I feel the same is true about one of the biggest corporate reforms going on in this country being played out in the public eye, but not where you might think: the college football field.

With standardized tests, Race to the Top, winner take all policies in education, schools will look like college football and that's not a compliment.

In college football there is no playoff. To make it to the national championship (or a very lucrative BCS bowl) you have to be undefeated or a conference champion of one of the "Big 6" conferences. Immediately, right off the bat, exclusionary. If you are not a part of the "Big 6" ( ACC, Big East, SEC, Pac 12, Big 12, Big Ten) you are not given a fair opportunity to get in the money bowls. We have seen two teams in the past, Boise St and TCU get their opportunities but they are the exception, not the rule.

One loss or two loss teams are not considered. A team that goes 10-0 and loses its last game of the season might get left out of an opportunity to play for the money. A 10-1 season should be celebrated but is now seen as a less than stellar.

Improvement is not always taken into consideration.  Look at pro sports and how they are different from college. The NY Giants won Superbowl's with a regular season record that allowed them to BARELY sneak into the playoffs both times. The St. Louis Cardinals MLB team hold the record for fewest regular season wins by a World Series Champion.

In college, in many cases, unless you are Alabama, LSU, or Ohio State, one loss means you are out of the opportunity to win money, two losses for sure, and really, isn't that why major colleges field football teams; to get the money, grow the university, make it visible on a global scale. In short, grow the brand?

When you think of Alabama, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Florida St, one might recognize the school only because of the money spend on branding it.

Research has shown that a college football team that plays for a national championship will see an incredible jump in enrollment applications by students. An increase in applications means greater demand and higher tuition prices. The for profit corporations that are America's colleges and universities use their brand (in many cases their football teams) as the vehicle for attracting students. Remember, we have been seeing college grads who cannot get jobs yet the insistence for a college education is stronger than ever (corporate schooling mantra should be "pay the fee, get a B and that's all you'll see from me.")

The cash grab of college football brings in a whole other world. The world of cheating. Cheating in recruiting, cheating in athletes grades, cheating of the law. The price of failure in college football is so high, coaches and athletes sometimes resort to doing things they otherwise would view as unethical or immoral. A running back who had a rough upbringing knows college football is an avenue to the pros and the pot at the end of the rainbow. Getting a tutor to take a test for them might not be what they would ever do, but they might see that as the way to stay in school and keep the cash grab dream alive.

A coach wouldn't want to have to break recruiting rules, but in order to keep the multimillion dollar contract they have to win and win every year. In many cases donors have way too much control over a coaches fate. In too many cases the donors who influence coaching positions have no knowledge of football and should never have a say over football operations... but they overwhelmingly do.

The worst of our fears this cash grab was realized last year at Penn State. The unlawful abuse of young boys was covered up so as not to hinder the school's ability to get their hands on the money. This showed us that the want of money by colleges and universities was so strong that not just the legal compass was compromised but so too was the moral compass.


If you have been following education  you are then aware of No Child Left Behind. A policy enacted to punish schools that do not have their students pass tests. If children do not pass their tests, the schools are punished with sanctions. If enough years go by without meeting the level of standards the powers that be decide to set, your school can be closed down. By 2014, if your school does not have 100% of students passing your school will be closed down. Knowing that this is an impossible mandate set by people with very little knowledge of education, cheating became the way to save your job or school. Scandals of cheating from some of the largest school districts in the country came to the surface: Chicago, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.

To alleviate the impossible constrains of NCLB, schools could apply for a waiver to remove them from that policy. Instead they have to conform to the new reforms of Race to the Top (RTTT),  corporate based approach to student achievement. Under the program RTTT you get merit pay (see: bonuses for wins), tying teacher effectiveness to students test results (see: contract extensions), and closing schools in favor of charter schools that rob localities of public monies (see: corruption).

For teachers to keep their jobs, the teachers must win at all costs, always live in fear that their students won't perform well on "test day", no amount of improvement over the course of the year will matter, and all of these reforms have been decided by people who should never have a say in how education is run. Congrats to all the teachers out there, you now live the life of a college football coach. Or more accurately college coaches live the life of a public school teacher.

You don't have to follow the education reform game to understand its absurdities and impossibilities. If you are an avid college football fan, you already know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Law of Above Average

I have two daughters. They are one and three years old. Life is like Lake Wobegon around our home; the women are strong, the men are all good looking (me of course) and all the children are above average.

But all it took was a trip to the pediatrician for the first well baby check up to hear that our child was in the twenty-fifth percentile for height for their age to be made aware that already, there is something in their short existence they will never be above average in!

Not only that but when the doctor was telling us the percentile result he did it with a softening blow in his voice as though we would not be able to handle the reality our kids are short, that they are not even in the fiftieth percentile.

I was puzzled when he told us this not because I was shocked our kids would probably never see 5'5", but that he felt we might be distraught and blame ourselves based on the graph he showed us. My wife and I just sort of chuckled (we both passed the genetics unit of Biology in school to know that our kids would not be the tallest. In fact, if they did become giants I think some uncomfortable questions would have to be asked!).

We left laughing about our short children not thinking much about it.

Then one day we were visiting with another family with a small child. The conversation turned to check ups and wellness, etc. Then one of the parents said with GREAT PRIDE that their child is in the 90th percentile, as though it was something dealing with their parenting skills that made their kid tall.

So naturally, I left over analyzing that and then started to think about average, mean, mode and all those other tools of measurement use to grade, classify or judge.

-The average person is above average-

When I first started teaching PE, I would see some poorly behaved kindergarten and first grade students and think "Man, what is going to come of our community when these kids get older". But then they became second and third graders or even older and they "figured it out." It was then that I began to see that we all get to where we're going, we just get there at different speeds and sometimes different avenues.

So is the kid who doesn't know their multiplication tables in third grade but learns it in fourth grade below average? Is the kid who reads on a fifth grade level while in first grade really above average?

What does average mean? I compare rating students average with the way we rate adults middle class. The only reason we try to identify a middle is so we can establish an upper and thus ranking everyone for classification. Who gets to be labeled the top? Why are they labeled that way? Why do we give it such high importance? I joke with my wife sometimes when someone starts to list their young child's achievements such as how much they can read or how high they can count. I want to say, "I can do that, does that make me brilliant!" Doesn't make sense

Remember the old story of Michael Jordan getting cut from his varsity high school team. Someone thought that the NBA's best player ever (I know, I know, when LeBron retires I will amend that last statement!) was a below average player as a 10th grader.

On the subject of professional athletes, how many times has a professional athlete in general been labeled an "average" pro? Really? An athlete who is in a job that less than three percent of those who pursue that career even make it is considered average? It takes an exceptionally above average athlete to even have a chance at being an average pro. If that's the case, then the word average loses all its meaning doesn't it?

What makes an average teacher? What makes an average banker? What makes an average construction worker?

Average doesn't make sense to me? I was a below average student in high school. When it came time my senior year for Model General Assembly ( I think they do Model UN now) I was selected as Speaker of the House (a high honor in the county amongst the other participants). Many above average honor students were not happy I got the spot. None of them knew Parliamentary Procedure. I did. This below average student had a special skill set that the not one honors student had. Did that make me above average now? (Because I was still a crappy Latin student).

To me average is a man made tool used for social grouping. We should do what we do because we are who we are. I am sure many people can attest that being above average in school does not always translate as being above average in all aspects of life.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Necessity is the mother of .....Reinvention?

Quick story:
I was in our school's office this afternoon walking back to check my mailbox before I left for the day. As I am walking past the principal office, I glance in and notice that our superintendent is sitting in there with the principal and another newly hired employee who will be working with the teachers in our school. 
As I pass by and realize who is there I backtrack to poke my head in to say "hi". Immediately I am invited in to chat and our superintendent -Pam Moran- introduces me to Isabelle McLean our new instructional coach who is assigned to work with us at our school for this year. As we were exchanging pleasantries,  Pam began to tell Isabelle about some of my minor achievements over the past year year in the classroom and elsewhere in the school system. I was very impressed that our superintendent knew so much about me. But as I left the "party in the principal's office" I felt as successful as I had ever felt and it had nothing to do with my job. The reason: it proved to me that I have successfully reinvented myself.

As a kid I was “a golfer” That’s all everyone knew about me. I had success as a teen on the golf course and so that’s who I unwillingly became. I wasn’t Andrew, a kid who plays golf, I was a golfer named Andrew! (what gets lost amongst family and old friends is the fact I had a 33-5 career high school tennis singles record and played for the 1998 state championship)

College comes and goes and since I’m not going pro as a golfer the question is “now what?" How am I supposed to know what to do after parents and relatives have benignly pigeonholed me into this identity?

Fast forward to today and Pam is complimenting me on my acquired skills of teaching Physical Education, teaching dance, photography, and coaching tennis. Not a single mention of golf.  Proof positive of a complete reinvention. Why so happy? I have successfully carved out a different path that I never saw for myself. Rather than continue down a paved, unfulfilling road, I took a risk on a career choice that for me had no trail blazed yet.

I came upon the commencement speech for the Dartmouth class of 2011. The speaker for the occasion was Conan O’Brien. While his speech was very humorous, he spoke about how many of us as kids know exactly what we want to do with our lives. How we have our life scripted out and we just need to get on with it. But dreams and identities change over time and its OK. Our dreams at twenty-two will undoubtedly be different than at thirty-two or forty- two and quite possibly that change of career path might be the most rewarding thing we ever do. 

In my opinion the satisfaction comes not from the success of change but knowing that change is a risk; especially when one is leaving something that most likely was their “dream from such a young age” How do you tell yourself that your dream was wrong for you? The courage to admit this and  reinvent yourself is a tremendous feat. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shame on me

Ever since the Penn State trial ended, I tried to wrap my head around how this could happen. I kept a keen ear out for the news and read every article pertaining to the scandal in hopes of understanding what Sandusky was thinking, what the coaches and administrators motives for not reporting, and why the cover up. While I believe I have enough info to answer those questions, (based solely on news that was reported. I am sure much more info has been kept under wraps) I still feel uneasy and can't seem to allow today's punishment handed down by the NCAA to provide me with closure for those feelings. What I have concluded about myself is that in some small way, I, along with millions of others, are slightly responsible for this scandal.

Let me explain.

I love sports. I have loved it since the very first time when I was five years old and picked up a baseball bat. From the first time I shot an airball. From the first time I played backyard football. I was over competitive, played as hard as I could and took it way to hard if I lost. Sports was a referendum of who I was as a person. It was much more than just a game in my mind.

It is easy to assume that any sports team I followed, I had the same insane and unhealthy vigor for. I love college athletics. I worshipped them since as early as I can remember. I can remember the best ever Duke-UNC basketball games in the 80's or just about any ACC game or player from the 80's for that matter. My two favorite football teams as a kid were Virginia Tech (still fav) and University of Florida. I can still remember the Steve Spurrier era of the "Fun and Gun" offense. My sole purpose in life as a kid was Saturday afternoon, especially when it came to these two teams. My whole week revolved around Saturday. Any game of significance commanded my full concentration. Naturally as a kid I would engage anyone in an argument as to who was the best team and all that other nonsense that as I look back on now, had no bearing on anything. All it did was make us look like a bunch of jackasses to our teachers who knew we had no clue as to how irrelevant we sounded.

I never owned jerseys or much apparel of my teams. Maybe a hat or a t shirt. But my loyalty to my teams was so deep, I would have run through hell with them if need be. When I see the PSU students guard the statue or defend Paterno, I don't judge them, because I know they know not what they are doing. I will bet in ten years those students who defended him will have a different take. I am sure when they are in their 30's with children they will regret what they did, hopefully understand why they did it, and swear to never hold anyone in such high regards again.

I look back now and feel ashamed that while I bear no responsibility for any of the actions of Penn State I share responsibility along with millions of others for feeding into the frenzy of college athletics over the past twenty years. I share responsibility by allowing wins and loses of teams for which I have no control over to define who I was. Because of this irrational assessment of self worth I can see why others would have done their best to deny themselves the reality that their schools, coaches, and administration can let them down. A winning program will stay that way to keep the money coming in. A fan of a winning program will stay that way to keep his self image in tact.

Shame on me. Thank goodness time has provided me with perspective but now I realize that not only does Penn State have to rebuild, so do I.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mixed Signals

Mixed messages. Say one thing, do another. Its gets confusing.

As elementary physical education teachers, my teaching partner and I also mix in a lot of teachings about good healthy habits and proper nutrition. My teaching partner, who does a great job researching information on what really goes into our foods, is a staunch advocate of teaching kids how to make healthy decisions even when most of the time that flies in the face of popular opinion.

At school mixed messages are given quite often which sometimes when I hear them I wonder how the kids keep up with it all. Even more challenging is when a message in school is directly in conflict with social norms outside of school.

A few examples that we have noticed in our school:

1. When it comes to healthy choices, the government dictates what types of foods  fit the food pyramid or the most recent initative, My Plate, yet then does not provide school cafeterias with food that falls under the nutritional values that it touts. When the government claims that pizza is a vegetable I want to do a hand smack to the face.

2. Candy for prizes or rewards. Yet again, goes against the nutritional info spouted by just about anybody.

3. Kids need to exercise/play for at least an hour a day. Every adult in the world will agree with this yet in school recess is being reduced and the older the child gets the more structured their day becomes with less emphasis on exercise and more on academics.

4. Outside corporate ploys to get parents to buy unhealthy foods so the school can reap less than 5% of the total revenue which usually adds up to nothing more than enough money to buy new toner for a printer!
Box Top for Kids comes to mind for this. Not only that but then the parent who is head of this fundraiser committee at the school bribes kids to make unhealthy food choices with an ice cream party to the class who can raise the most money.

5. What about the idea of competition? In school we want to reduce the amount of competition. As a P.E. teacher I have found that providing a program that allows all to succeed and work at their own speed has become a successful teaching plan. Sometimes, however I wonder if we are setting them up for failure. Not too many places outside of school operate on the "get it when you get it" model. Its very competitive outside of school. I don't advocate for win at all costs nor ranking students but can we at least let kids know that school is the only place where people have to consider other's self esteem. The job I worked before I became a teacher demonstrated this very point. Also I have a friend in finance who told me stories about how early in his career his boss was always yelling and demeaning workers when they screwed up.

Along with the mixed messages in school kids also receive many contradictions between what they are taught in school and what their parents tell them. Homework comes to mind as the leading issue.

There is no utopia and nothing ever is perfect but the transition from the school world to the working world might be a bit smoother with more consistency.

My views are from the lens of a Health and P.E. teacher. If you have any mixed message experiences from another area please leave a comment.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Better late than never!

Many times when anyone is referenced to as an early or late bloomer it is usually in the context of physical development or when first noticing the opposite sex! Not to often is it conceptualized that someone can be an early or late bloomer cognitively. This doesn’t mean that a late bloomer’s brain isn’t fully developed by a certain age but more so of how a person views a goal and how quantify that goal being achieved.

Who are the early bloomers in school? The ones who when the teacher asks the class to create or write something, that student seems to put pen to paper or brush to canvas rather quickly. They have a vision and know how to turn that vision into a nice project or eloquent writing sample in a relatively quick period of time (or at least within the timeline of the assignment).

I would think many teachers run into students who have ideas but are not sure how to make them work right away. It takes many trial and errors before a direction is determined. This can take longer than the assignment period, which can make completing work by a deadline difficult (might even water down creation to fit the time allotted).

When people succeed early in either their childhood or early adult life the prodigy or genius label is used. When really what needs to be considered is how creativity flourishes inside all of us.

A University of Chicago economist named David Galenson decided that creativity can be split into two groupings: conceptual and experimental.

This would help explain to early bloomer student model. They can conceptualize what they want, which helps them figure out how they want to perfect it. A late bloomer is most likely an experimental type. They will start out in one direction and finish in a completely different place. Their goals are not always focused and there are many stop and starting over periods. Not only does this take much more time but it also gives the appearance of failure. Galenson notes in his book “Old Masters and Young Geniuses” about late bloomers: “The imprecision of their goals means that they rarely feel they have succeeded and their career pursuits are often dominated by the pursuit by one single objective… They consider the production a process of searching, in which they aim to discover the image in the course of making it; they typically believe that learning is a more important goal than the finished product.”

Being a late bloomer doesn’t mean being a late starter. Many people who are better later in their careers most likely have been at their craft for quite a while. There are many people who fit this category but one immediate actor comes to my mind. That actor is George Clloney. (Clooney did make it big on TV at age thirty three with his role on ER but it wasn’t until seven years later when he was 40 that he got his major breakthrough roles on the big screen. In 2000 and 2001 he had back to back to back hits with The Perfect Storm, O Brother, Where Art Thou? And Oceans Eleven. He  became an A-list actor who commands more money now than when he was younger. )

Some historical examples of early bloomers:
-Mozart wrote his masterpiece Piano Concerto No. 9 at twenty-one,
-Herman Melville wrote Citizen Kane at 25, Moby Dick at 31,
-Picasso painted Evocation: The Burial of Casagemas at 20.

Some historical examples of late bloomers:
-Alfred Hitchcock directed Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho between ages fifty four and sixty-one.
-Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at forty-nine
-Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at fifty-eight.

Why this resonates with me is because I know that I am a late bloomer. Although I do not begin to imagine I am on the same level as any of the great achievers I have referenced in the piece, I do feel though that as time has passed I can agree with the objective of “searching” for an undetermined answer rather than “finding” a finished product.

For kids, school is the most important and all encompassing aspect of their lives. They operate on a carefully researched, evidence-based schedule which seems to be at times a one size fits all model. Development doesn’t happen on a socially engineered timetable.

I tell my wife many times when I am either reading something or learning about something new, that I don’t have expectations to grasp the concept immediately. Rather I prefer to read it, take it in and  “let it swirl around a bit” (my own words). I know that testing is rigorous, and on a timetable. My hope is that for the late bloomers, the ones who are searching for understanding, that teachers can encourage and support those minds.

For the early bloomers who “get it”, my hope is that their teachers can help keep their shinning star from burning out too early; that they will know that while graduating from college is a noble goal, its not the finished product.


Gladwell, Malcolm, “What the dog Saw: and other adventures” pgs. 295-305. 2009

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A few good men

A question was asked to me and other male teachers on twitter this morning of why are there so few male teachers in elementary school. I think many male teachers all have their opinions of why but I am sure a repeating theme would deal with low pay, low status, or appearing weak.  Teachers are already dogged by the dumb "those who can, do, those who can't, teach" saying (worse yet, "those who can't teach, teach gym") and anything that appears inferior might not be the career choice a male is looking for.

Before I was a teacher, I worked as a retail manager of a small business. (I was a year or two removed from college and wasn't sure if I wanted to be a teacher. I had been swayed by all these ideas put in my head that we were all going to start off making a million dollars and live the lifestyle that we took for granted from which our parents provided for us. We were going to drive Beamers, live the country club life and vacation all  over the world. That was waiting for us. The only catch -you can't be a teacher and do that. So all my housemates and other friends all went into the business administration field. Some concentrated in Finance, others Economics, whatever. I chose Physical Education.) One thing I learned from that experience was whether five or fifty, if you tell a customer "no" they will throw a fit. Most of my customers were men. This witness their behavior was so confusing to me. The grown ups who made hurtful comments to me when I wasn't able to give them a product that they seem they should get for a huge discount was mind blowing to me. I thought adults were supposed to be more mature than that!

I left that job to become a teacher because I figured if I work with five and six year olds and they throw a fit,  I can chalk it up to one reason that makes perfect sense: they are five and six years old.

The three most popular reasons men don't go into elementary education according to Corrine Hess are:

1. Low social status
2. Low pay
3. Appearing Weak

Low Social Status
Social status is one of those tricky areas. Working in an elementary school, I love that young kids are in love with the idea of growing up to be a policeman, firefighter, nurse, teacher, etc. Their reason for wanting to do so is because they want to help others. My question is, where in the course between the age of five and  twenty do they stop wanting to do jobs that help others and why does that change?  How is that decision influenced? Social status wouldn't be important in choosing a career if it wasn't made to be so important in this country; the land of "if some is good, more is better."

I really struggle with those who view teachers as second class citizens. Not to be morbid, but in the history of the world, there are only but a handful of people who were so unique that we remember their accomplishments. What does a mortgage lender, financial advisor, or business owner do that is so much more deserving of social acclaim? Guess what, there were business owners and bankers in colonial times in this county and I bet no one reading this can name one.

Low Pay
What I have a problem most about this is not the pay, as much as the cost of the degree proportional to the the pay. A four year teaching degree will cost the same as a four year business degree, yet a business degree major has the opportunity to earn a living that can far exceed the costs of obtaining said degree.

Why not get a master's degree in education then and make more money? True, but any worthwhile increase in pay to validate purchasing more education would mean moving into administration or higher and leaving the classroom. What if you don't want to leave the classroom? Being a teacher then becomes a job with no upward mobility.

When my friends and I were in our mid twenties, we made similar starting pay jobs, but in just five years many of their salaries have more than doubled while while my pay is maybe a thousand or two thousand dollars higher than when I started. I enjoy what I do but there are times when I think I should look for a different career with a higher pay grade to help ensure that my kids get the same advantages that their peers in western Albemarle county will have. After all, a real man provides for his family. In this day and age that translates directly to one word: money

Woman's work
Men don't want to appear unmanly. And no matter what people say, there is still a perception that elementary education is for women and is glorified babysitting.

Teaching did used to be a male dominated profession. Before public school became the norm, wealthy families would hire tutors who were usually male, to educate their children. Private schools were taught by men as well. Although some things never change, they were not paid a lot but many used their teaching career as a stepping stone to become a college professor. The advent of the industrial revolution is where you have men leaving the profession seeking higher paying, higher status jobs, leaving women to fill the void.

Teaching at one point, on one social level in this country was also viewed as a job that provided a second income. It was never viewed as a "real job" but a job that a woman did which wasn't necessarily needed for the family finances. It was something to do. 

Teaching young children is not viewed very highly because of low pay and the nurturing of young children is not as valuable of a skill. A macho attitude towards what is a man's job is still rampant and teaching young children isn't viewed as macho.

These stereotypes are misguided and confusing to young men. Men these days are not nearly as  industrious as their fathers and grandfathers. What it means to be a man is different that what it was in the past. The social definition of what it is to be a man lies increasingly in what job they have and their status in the community. This has been the case for a long long time but with suburban sprawl, media, and internet, this image gets perpetuated even in the most remote places in America, leaving men and boys to think this is the way everyone everywhere does it. Eliminating the jack of all trades image and replacing it with the man who makes enough money to pay someone to do these jobs is the new norm.

A male teacher doesn't make the money a perceived "real man" makes. Playing with children all day is not macho. A status as a second class citizen is the mark of an inferior man. Why are there no male teachers again?