Despite Potential to Improve Student Success, Latino Male Teachers Remain Scarce

In high school, when Fernando Reyes started thinking about the type of career he wanted, he thought about becoming a pyrotechnician.

“I loved working with demolition, explosives, anything that involved that type of chemistry,” he told Latino USA. But when Reyes started taking chemistry classes, he discovered that while he was passionate about seeing chemistry in motion, he wasn’t passionate about all the paperwork.

Reyes eventually contemplated which jobs he could do for 25 to 30 years. As someone who enjoyed reading, he decided on teaching.

“I believe that you can tell a lot about a person by observing their writing and listening to what they have to say. So I figured two things,” Reyes recalled. “One: I’m going to enjoy reading students’ papers and listening to their speeches—and I get paid to do it. Two: As a Latino who excelled in English, I know it makes a big difference in this country. It’s one way I can help out my community by helping it advance.”

Nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Latino teachers represent only 7.8% of the teaching workforce and Latino male teachers represent a mere 2%.

While the Latino high-school dropout rate has dropped over the last decade, it remains higher than other groups at 12% (blacks 7%, whites 5%, and Asians 1%), according to the Pew Research Center.

A study by UCLA’s Black Male Institute of high-achieving black and Latino males in Los Angeles County found that a key factor is these young men’s success was supportive teachers or role models.

So could recruiting more male Latino teachers improve Latino students’ educational experiences?

Read more of my article–with voices of three Chicago Public Schools teachers–at Latino USA.

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