Fathers’ Rights on the First Day of School?

School is starting and around the country, many fathers, step-fathers and father figures are taking children to school on their first day. They are part of a national movement called the Million Father March that encourages people of all races, but particularly black men, to be active in children’s educational lives according to a story by Kelly Starling Lyons.

Phillip Jackson, director and founder of the Black Star Project in Chicago, says the goal is to eliminate the racial academic achievement gap. The way to do this is to encourage parental involvement, Jackson says. One key, he believes, is the commitment of dads.

Dads taking kids to school on their first day – is partly inspired by the Million Man March and partly by a South American practice of dads thanking principals and teachers on the last day of school, says Jackson.

The story goes on to report:

Father participation matters, according to a 1997 NCES report titled Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Schools. Children from two-parent families and single-father homes who had fathers highly involved in school were more likely to get As and enjoy school, the study found. Children with involved nonresident fathers also fared better than peers with less involved dads. They were more likely to participate in extracurricular activities, and those in grades 6-12 were less likely to be suspended, expelled, or repeat a grade.

“It’s clear that when both parents are involved, kids do better,” says Channell Wilkins, Director of the Office of Head Start. “There’s more support, better language skills, more help to develop that child’s understanding of the environment around them.” At Head Start, dads who become involved in one program often join others. “It opens the door and lets them know how valuable they are to a child’s life,” Wilkins says.