Humanities Indicators
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K-12 Education  >  Primary- and Secondary-School Faculty
 
Demographic Characteristics of Humanities Teachers
(Updated July 2017)

The U.S. Department of Education’s Schools and Staffing Survey provides a demographic snapshot of the nation’s primary- and secondary-school teachers. These data reveal some continuities but also some striking discontinuities between the humanities and other subject areas with respect to the age, gender, and racial/ethnic composition of their faculties.

Findings and Trends

  • In the 2011–2012 school year, teachers of humanities subjects constituted 19.7% of the K–12 private and public school teacher population (excluding Bureau of Indian Education teachers, for whom data were unavailable). This percentage does not include “general” educators in the elementary grades, most of whom spent a portion of their time teaching language arts, reading, history, and other humanities material. These general educators represented 44% of the K–12 teaching corps.[1]
  • The age distribution of humanities teachers was similar to that of teachers in other subject areas, with the exception of career and technical education teachers, who tended to be older (Indicator I-10a). Teachers under 30 years of age represented 15.2% of the humanities teaching corps. Just under one-third of humanities teachers were age 50 or older.
  • Like K–12 teachers in all other subject areas but one, the majority of humanities teachers were female, but the gender imbalance was most pronounced in the humanities (Indicator I-10b). With a teaching force that was 76% female, the gender distribution of humanities teachers was most similar to that of arts teachers (including teachers of studio art, dance, drama, and music), 68% of whom were women. The most gender-balanced faculty, with a male to female ratio of 51% to 49%, was that of the behavioral and social sciences. Students were highly likely to receive their earliest humanities education from women, as general educators were overwhelmingly (90%) female.
  • The racial composition of the humanities teaching corps did not mirror that of the student population (Indicator I-10c). Students were more than twice as likely as their teachers to be African American, Asian, or Native American. For instance, while 5.3% of humanities teachers identified as African American in the 2011–12 school year, 15.2% of K–12 students were so identified.
  • In comparison to teachers in other subjects, humanities teachers were substantially more likely to be Hispanic (Indicator I-10d). The share of humanities teachers who were Hispanic (12.7%), however, was 57% as large as the share of American school children who were of Hispanic descent.
I-10a: Age Distribution of Primary and Secondary School Teachers,* by Main Teaching Assignment, 2011–2012

* Public and private schools (excluding Bureau of Indian Education schools, for which data were unavailable). Includes regular full- and part-time teachers, itinerant teachers, and long-term substitutes.
** General education includes: early childhood or pre-K, elementary grades, and special education.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, “Public and Private School Teacher Data Files,” 2011–2012. Data analyzed by National Center for Education Statistics staff. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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I-10b: Gender Distribution of Primary and Secondary School Teachers,* by Main Teaching Assignment, 2011–2012

* Public and private schools (excluding Bureau of Indian Education schools, for which data were unavailable). Includes regular full- and part-time teachers, itinerant teachers, and long-term substitutes.
** General education includes: early childhood or pre-K, elementary grades, and special education.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, “Public and Private School Teacher Data Files,” 2011–2012. Data analyzed by National Center for Education Statistics staff. Data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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I-10c: Percentage of Minority Primary and Secondary Humanities Teachers,* Compared with Student Population, 2011–2012

* Public and private schools (excluding Bureau of Indian Education schools, for which data were unavailable). Includes regular full- and part-time teachers, itinerant teachers, and long-term substitutes.
** All reported percentages exclude students and teachers who reported being of Hispanic ethnicity or more than one race.
† Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation for this estimate is between 30 percent and 50 percent (i.e., the standard error is at least 30 percent and less than 50 percent of the estimate).

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics: Schools and Staffing Survey, “Public and Private School Teacher Data Files,” 2011–2012 (data analyzed by National Center for Education Statistics staff); Common Core of Data, 2011–2012; and Private School Universe Survey, 2011–2012. Student data analyzed and all data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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I-10d: Percentage of Primary and Secondary School Teachers of Hispanic Ethnicity,* by Main Teaching Assignment and Compared with the Student Population, 2011–2012

* Public and private schools (excluding Bureau of Indian Education schools, for which data were unavailable). Includes regular full- and part-time teachers, itinerant teachers, and long-term substitutes. Percentages include all teachers and students of Hispanic ethnicity, irrespective of race.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics: Schools and Staffing Survey, “Public and Private School Teacher Data Files,” 2011–2012 (data analyzed by National Center for Education Statistics staff); Common Core of Data, 2011–2012; and Private School Universe Survey, 2011–2012. Student data analyzed and all data presented by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (www.humanitiesindicators.org).

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Endnotes

[1] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey, “Public and Private School Teacher Data Files,” 2011–2012. Data analyzed by National Center for Education Statistics staff.