One man's journey - A long term struggle to teach

by "Rich" The CPA

I went into the teaching credential program with the understanding that elementary schools "...need and want male teachers." I had heard this from many, many sources (including my wife, the president of the Board of Directors of the CITY, STATE Unified School District). I have now come to the understanding that while this may indeed be true (as you point out below other teachers - women, mainly - and parents do want to have more male teachers in elementary school), those who desire more male teachers are not, sadly, the ones who do the hiring. Principals, not parents and teachers, are responsible for hiring. Most principals are female and most prefer, in my experience, to make the easy and safe choice - a young, white female just out of college with little or no previous work experience of any kind.
 
As for my resume being too strong, I have little doubt that if I made a single change to my resume - changing my name to a female name - my phone would be ringing off the hook. I have, by the way, left volumes off of my resume (my work on the Boards of Directors of several well known non-profits, for example). It is a considerably toned down resume.
 
In my state, the pay scale for teachers in public schools is rigid. A first year teacher receives a stipulated amount regardless of prior experience.
 
The link you provided, below, does not appear to be to a public school but rather private one. The public school sector is quite different in MY STATE in my experience. My experience, just to reiterate, has been one interview in over forty applications over the last year. I rarely receive any response to any application I submit. The other males in my credential program have had similar experiences. The women in my credential program, who have applied for the same jobs we have, do get interviews and many of them now have jobs. The only male in my credential program who has any kind of teaching job is an itinerant music instructor for all elementary schools in the CITY Unified School District. He does not have his own class. Several of the women from my credential program who are now teaching are, in my opinion, unfit to hold any job in any field. I am not alone in this view, either. How can one conclude that gender bias does not exist in California public schools?
 
As far as what I am doing: I have tried to get on substitute teaching rosters in my area, but few districts are adding substitutes at this time. To date, I am only on the substitute teachers list in the CITY Unified School District. I am volunteering at a school in CITY and another in TOWN (in a class taught by a young woman who was in my credential program). I chose the CITY school to volunteer because it has a male principal. I feel that my chances of finding a position will be greatest if I focus only on those schools with male principals (that considerably narrows the field).
 
I plan to contact an employment law attorney I know to discuss this situation and see whether there are any Title 9 implications. It seems to me that if public elementary schools were populated by 90% males and only 10% females, that fact alone (regardless of the reasons for it) would trigger numerous, successful lawsuits by women shut out of the system. This is certainly what happened in college sports. It seems to me that it should work the other way around, too - but what do I know; I am not a lawyer.
 
The state senator for my district is a friend and she is on the education committee of the State Senate. I plan to speak to her about this situation to see whether there may be any way to seek legislative remedies.
 
Finally, I am taking a serious look at teaching in the State Prison System. This is not at all what I wanted, but the executive director of CITY Area Women Against Rape (I've been on the Board of this rape crisis center since 1992 when one of my employees was sexually assaulted) has urged me to seriously consider it. NON-PROFIT has worked with prisoners for over a decade now and our work was featured on a 5 hour documentary on MSNBC last summer. Our executive director enjoys her prison work tremendously and feels that I would be a good fit. Another plus is that the prison system is the only area of the state budget not to receive any cutbacks in funding (what does this say about our great state?). Finally, I am told that the prisons actually prefer to have male teachers - gender bias going my way!!
 
I appreciate your taking the time to reply to my e-mail as I am sure you are very busy. You can no doubt tell that I am very angry right now. I know I must not let this anger get the better of my or I will never succeed in obtaing an elementary school teaching position. In the meantime, high school swimming gears up in two weeks (I am the head coach for the High School of CITY men's and women's teams), so I am looking forward to teaching young swimmers.
 
Please keep me posted and thank you for having the foresight to start you wonderful, relevant organization.

January 2010
 
"Rich"
The CPA

Previous Letter

I appreciate your keeping in touch. I did speak with Senator X (a woman) about the matter and she does seem very interested in the issue. I have yet to contact the State Superintendent of Schools (whom I also know), but plan to do so. I need to follow-up with Senator X, though. I do not know what she can do, but it is heartening, nonetheless, that she is interested in the issue.

I am still not employed as a teacher (save for substitute teaching in three districts). I am always well received as a sub, by the way. I have slowly come around to the view that it is my particular characteristics in combination with my general characteristics which render me unemployable. I am not sure how many job applications I have submitted, but I am fairly certain that it exceeds 300. This has yielded 9 interviews. I did get one job offer, though not for the job I had applied for. It was a long term sub position as a PE teacher. I did not really want this job as it did not qualify for the induction program I need to undertake in order to get my clear credential. Nonetheless, I accepted it. The district, though, did not accept me. In order to take this job, I had to be on the district's sub list. I could not get on this list, I was told, because they did not need any more subs. Even the principal's calls failed to get me on the list. Thus, no job.

I can tell the instant I walk into an interview room whether I am going to be seriously considered as a candidate. In nearly every case, I can see and feel the principals (all female, by the way) flinch and tense up. I have tried dressing down, but to no avail. I am older, good looking, smooth, professional, experienced, well spoken - in short, I am their worst fear. Still, I believe firmly that even with these qualities, had I been female, I would be working now. So, as I see it, it is a combination of general factors (maleness and age) and specific factors (perceived intimidation) that lock me out. As my Iranian friend says, "Rich, you don't fit the profile and if you don't fit the profile, it ain't gonna happen."

When I see others from my credential program happily teaching (some for four years, now) it just wrenches my heart. It hurts me so much that I physically ache. I feel that I am just not good enough, or at least not as good as I think I am. I feel like a complete failure.

I spent this morning looking at the STATE Commission of Teaching Credentialling website to see about getting an extension on my soon to expire preliminary credential.  Just going through this process (especially when so many of my classmates now hold clear credentials) makes me ill. But I will do it.

In any event, I have slowly come round to accepting that I will never be a teacher - at least not one employed by a school. I think the time has come to move on to something else. I do not know, yet, what that may be.

June 2012

"Rich"
The CPA