The main problem with our public elementary schools is that they are feminized. The male elementary-school teacher is an endangered species, largely because of the child-molestation hysteria that seized the public imagination a decade or two ago, documented in Dorothy Rabinowitz's 2003 book No Crueler Tyrannies. A man who wants to teach small children is nowadays under suspicion of being a pervert.Unfortunately, occupational coding in the GSS only extends back to about the time when this cloud of suspicion allegedly descended over aspiring male primary school teachers. The following table shows the percentage of male K-8 teachers, by range of years. Sample sizes among primary schoolers are comfortably over 100 for each range:
For the last two decades, women have steadily outnumbered men among primary school teachers by more than 6 to 1.
This is in sharp contrast to the sex ratio among college and university instuctors, where men outnumber women 56% to 44%. The sex ratio among high school teachers is halfway between the two, with women outnumbering men 2 to 1 (66.1% to 33.9%).
It's difficult to quantifiably gauge how much more (or less, I suppose) desirable a balanced sex ratio among teachers in primary education would be for boys, or how female overrepresentation, rather than larger PC culture, influences curricula towards greater feminity (more emphasis on suffering, less on achievement; more on how war affects those touched by it, less on the military specifics of those wars; more group projects, fewer individual assignments, etc).
I had women throughout elementary school. My three favorite teachers in middle and high school were all men. Two of those were in honors classes and thus intellectually stimulating, and all three were in subjects I enjoyed, so these things might be skewing my perceptions. Yet my conscious affection for them largely arose because they engaged me whenever I offered opinionated and often 'contrarian' views (that I'm sure were idiotic at least as often as they were insightful) rather than discouraging me from deviating from the lesson plan. That men are more fond of argumentation and less concerned with uniformed consensus seems a plausible explanation for why boys might benefit from having more male teachers, in addition to their obviously being more virile than women are.
I've not read Rabinowitz' book and so am not acquainted with the evidence of child molestation hysteria deterring men from teaching careers, but suspect that trying to push more men into elementary school classrooms will be about as effective as trying to push more women into the non-biological hard sciences. Men simply don't enjoy watching over a pack of prepubescent kids who require elevated levels of patience and nurturing as much as women do. It's not in our genes. In this regard, it's probably not totally unwarranted to be a little more wary of pedophilia in aspiring male elementary school teachers than in men on the whole.
GSS variables used: OCC80(113-154)(155-156)(157), YEAR, SEX