Your City and School Are Asked to Join The Million Father March
Black Star Project, a Chicago-based organization that launched the Million Father March, which encourages fathers to escort their children to school on the first day of class, now wants fathers to make an additional commitment to their children‘s education.
“We are asking fathers and other significant male figures, uncles, cousins, older brothers, to volunteer 10 hours during the academic year in their children‘s schools, ” said Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project. “The men can tutor, serve as mentors, hall monitors, chaperones and perform other jobs around the school to assist the students, faculty members and the principals.”
Jackson believes that fathers’ participation in their children‘s schools will help improve academic achievement and reduce discipline problems.The National Fatherhood Initiative, a Germantown, Md.-based organization whose goal is to improve the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible and committed fathers, agrees with Jackson’s assessment.
According to a fact sheet, titled “Father Factor in Education,” the National Fatherhood Initiative said father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student earning mostly “A’s.” “This was true for fathers in biological parent families, for stepfathers and for fathers heading single-parent families,” the National Fatherhood Initiative reported. On the other hand, fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school, the National Fatherhood Initiative reported.
This is the 8th year of the Million Father March, which begins Aug. 1 and ends Sept. 15. The Million Father March is not a mass gathering like the Million Man March, where one million men assembled in Washington D.C. Because the nation’s schools open at different times during the academic year, fathers are encouraged to escort their kids to school on the first day of classes. Schools in the South and West open the earliest, followed by schools in the Southeast. Schools in the Midwest and Northeast open in September, the latest school openings of the academic year.
Jackson is excited about the number of school systems and fathers participating in this year’s Million Father March. He predicts that 700 school districts and more than 800,000 men will participate in Million Father March.
“Can you imagine if all of those men volunteered to work 10 hours in their children‘s school. That would have a dynamic effect on the school system,” Jackson said. He added, however, that some schools may not want fathers involved because it would be “one more thing” in which faculty members have to manage.
The Million Father March has grown nationwide because it is being pushed by individual schools and individual classrooms. In Broward County Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the district embraced the Million Father March, said Charles Webster, the district’s coordinator of public relations and government affairs.
As a result, participation in the Million Father March continues to grow. In the 2009 school year, 28,391 fathers participated. Turnout in 2009 was particularly surprising because school was delayed a day because of Tropical Storm Fay, Webster said. In 2010, the number of participants climbed to 36,875. Last year, 38,081 signed up for the Million Father March, Webster said. “It’s important that men participate, not just the ladies, because it shows men care about their children,” he added.
Webster added that the presence of men on school grounds prevents student violence. “At one high school, there were fights after school. Men showed up and stood on the school grounds and the fights stopped,” he said. And Webster added that many of the men ask school officials what else they can do to improve the schools. The first day of classes this year for the Broward County Public Schools is August 22.
Jackson also wants Chicago churches to become involved with their neighborhood schools. “There are 650 schools in Chicago and 10,000 churches,” Jackson said. “We want the churches to partner with their neighborhood schools and at 9 a.m. on September 6, we want the ministers wearing their church robes to hold prayer vigils outside the schools and pray for a productive, successful and safe school year.”