Re: Reading and Writing

Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 10:56:04 EST

I want to apologize to you for any miscommunication on my part about my
reply on the edequity listserv related to the role of funding or female
teachers in literacy programs. A respondent replied that literacy
programs are not well funded and that the failure of boys in the early
grades to achieve the same proficiency as their female counterparts was
not the "fault" of female teachers.

The first issue, that of funding, or lack thereof, is likely true for all
school subjects, reading remediation included. Funding is relative, and
although reading remediation may not have an ideal budget, when compared
with numeracy remediation, it does much better. Parents, community, and
educational leaders have just not responded to the need for alternative
methods of teaching numeracy, and some might say (although I'm not sure if
I agree with this) that it is because failure to achieve in math has
traditionally been more of a female issue.

But the second concern of "blaming" female teachers needs clarification.
There is no "one size fits all" for anything in human dynamics, including
teaching. All children need and deserve a faculty that mirrors the
student population, no matter what their grade level or program of study.
This includes teachers of both genders and the ethnic groups that make up
the educational community. Just as I would like to see more females in
math, science, and technical subjects, I think we would all benefit from
more male teachers in elementary grades, as well as English and social
sciences. In past generations this issue has been given little or no
attention by colleges of education, educational administration, and others
in a position to develop recruitment incentives for attracting gender or
ethnic minority applicants. It is not the "fault" of the teachers already
in place, but a long term planning issue that would best be addressed
sooner rather than later.

Barbara Tavares
University of Hawaii

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