Sunday, August 12, 2012

Back To School Million Father March

Take your child to school on the first day and keep participating throughout the school year. I’m a divorced father, educators in public education over 20 years, instructor in higher education and community activist. I understand the importance of fathers in their children’s lives and see the devastating effects if fathers are not involved and the encouraging growth of children with involved and active fathers. Mothers are important in schools, but fathers can create a paradigm shift in the educational atmosphere that leads to higher graduation rates, lower dropout rates, decreased pregnancies and decrease in school violence. One of the responsibilities fathers are tasked with, the education of children. Traditionally it is not the woman’s job to educate; her job is to nurture and show the emotional aspect of growing up. Because of this understanding and the work to diminish school violence, the largest back to school enterprise in United States’ history will happen as school starts. The Million Father March will invite fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers and family friends to take children to school on the first day of school. On Million Father March Day, Tuesday, September 4, 2012 or before when respective schools start in August and September. "To educate a man (and woman) in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." (Theodore Roosevelt)

Fatherhood is a responsibility of unending change and humbling experiences. Fathers go through adaptation as their children mature and pull away from the closeness and security of home. The evolution of the family shows that there are more fathers that are stepfathers, surrogate fathers, adopted fathers and "oops" fathers. This shows that fatherhood is changing in designation, but  fathers are important to children and influence behaviors and attitudes. This school year more than ever fathers are going to have to; "Man-up, Step-up, Own-up, and Fess-up" to their responsibilities and participate more in schools. It is not enough to attend athletic events, provide peep talks, promise material rewards or even setting almost unachievable goals. Fathers must be visible and involved in schools to stop growing academic failures and work to stop increasing school violence.

Being a father includes making decisions not just for themselves, but for the child or children in their lives, sacrificing for their families and building their communities. Children are born into the world that requires fathers to review their accountabilities and responsibilities. Child rearing is never an easy thing in life, fathers must understand that the world is changing and their children need them to be active and involved. It can be seen in our schools which are a representation of society; fathers cannot be selfish in their actions and choices because they are models to their children and children that see them as idols.  

A father must provide guidance in wisdom, by sharing how important education is, that there is value in learning. Fathers need to show up at the school house and speak with teachers, administrators, coaches and tutors to make sure their child or children are learning and not being a disruption to the learning in classrooms. A father cannot do this once, he must be diligent, involved and importantly consistent. The Bible says in Hosea 4:6 (NKV), "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge."

This can be extended to children unsupported, unguided and lead astray. Fathers must show good judgment openly to their children; it is up to fathers to show that life does not have to be violent, thuggish, angry or lonely. Fathers do not let entertainment icons, rappers, musicians, and television athletes raise your children. As Charles Barkley once said parents should be their children’s role models not television athletes.
How different would children's lives be if fathers were as strong with children as the enthusiasm for sports teams or other recreational outlets? It is interesting that advertisements are rampant for fathers to buy football tickets so there won't be blackouts of football games, drink assortments of beers, but few commercials encouraging fathers to be more involved in the schools where future athletes and scholars will come from.
Men love to model behavior for their children; true behavior comes in the relationships with children. How many men display the same amount of dedication and devotion in relationships with their child that they are responsible for that they show for their sports teams? How much of a difference would it make in children respecting their mothers, being successful in school and contributing to society if fathers are actively modeling.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJ), "Train a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not turn from it." The unfortunate reality is too many children are being lead into the juvenile justice system where they loose their identities and treated like human capital with more value on their imprisonment and less on t heir enlightenment with education. There should be no schools struggling or failing because fathers need to be involved, show more interest, more accountable for their child or children's academic involvement.

This is a defining moment in schools, young men particularly in today's society need to hear words of love, acceptance and dedication from their fathers. There are two institutions that desire children; Educational and Correctional. It is up to fathers to guide their children to the correct institution of educational growth which leads to a life of independence and productivity. The
Million Father March, fathers must realize the responsibility of their place in a child's life regardless if they are in the home or not, regardless of the distance between father and child through divorce or separation. This new school year should be more than just anointing heads with oil and prayers, more parents especially fathers involved in the schools to make sure children are successful.
Malcolm X stated, "Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today." If children are not prepared then parents are to blame if they are not involved as they should be. It is inexcusable for fathers not taking time to eat lunch with their child, or visit their child's school; fathers should know who their child's teacher is, what grade the child is in and the name of their child's school. They should attend PTA meetings, Schools Advisory Council meetings, School Board Meetings and Parent / Teacher Conferences.

Fathering is a stability of prayer, discipline, love, negotiation, trust and communication; fathering  does not come easy. Look in jails; look at the dropout rates to see the failures of non involved or non caring fathers. It will take the interaction of fathers to step up and become involved in their children’s life to guide them in the direction that builds character, a thirst for knowledge, value of hard work for success, educational attainment and building of communities. Fathers be involved, be committed and be encouraging.

Back To School Million Father March needs fathers involved and dedicated to the schools their children are enrolled in. Contact your child’s school to complete volunteer applications, chaperone applications, learn about their lunch hours and special events.

William Jackson, M.Ed.
Edward Waters College
and Duval County Public Schools

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