Calling All Fathers: Take Your Child To School On August

The Million Father March is opportunity for fathers to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children on the first day of school and throughout the school year.

The Million Father March has grown out of recognition of the power of male involvement in the education of all students. Research shows active participation of men in the life of their child or lives of their children is invaluable and irreplaceable. A 2004 summary study by The Parent Institute showed that at schools where teachers reported high levels of outreach to parents, reading test scores rose 50 percent higher and math test scores 40 percent higher than in schools where teachers reported low levels of outreach. Statistics from the National Fatherhood Initiative support these findings, reporting that when fathers and men are regularly and substantially involved in the education and social development of children, those children have higher standardized test scores, higher grade point averages, higher attendance rates and higher high school graduation rates. Additionally, those children have lower rates of suspension, expulsion and arrest, as well as fewer incidents of violent behavior and they are less likely to use drugs, alcohol or engage in premature sex.

“This is an opportunity for our fathers to get involved with their child’s education,” said Celeste Ellis-Spears, principal at Allenbrook Elementary. It was Ellis-Spears and her staff who presented the opportunity to the entire Project L.I.F.T. family. ”Not only does this give them an opportunity to participate on August 26, but it gives them a chance to begin being engaged in their child’s education for the duration of their school career as schools will share with fathers on that day how they can continue to be involved with their child’s education.”

Project L.I.F.T. is sending messages to all families encouraging them to have their child’s father register to participate in the Million Father March. They have also enlisted the support of local fraternities, mail radio personalities and community leaders.

“Not all children have fathers present in the home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a male there to support their education” said Project L.I.F.T Learning Community Superintendent Denise Watts. “Charlotte has a very giving community and we are encouraging men who care and want to make a difference in a child’s life to register to participate as well. The goal is to give our kids positive role models who will support and encourage them.”

EXTRA: Traditionally, fathers are thought of as disciplinarians and providers, but according to our Oprah’s Lifeclass panel of experts—Iyanla Vanzant; Geoffrey Canada, CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone; and Dr. Steve Perry, founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School—men need to rethink their roles. Watch as they redefine what it means to be a father. Plus, find out what qualities many dads are lacking.

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