Students are heading back to school—and as Education Week reports, millions of fathers will be there with them:
More than a million fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and father figures are expected to accompany their children to the first day of school in the U.S. this year, inspired by the vision of 10 men who met in a Chicago church basement eight years ago.
Phillip Jackson, one of the co-founders of the Million Father March, describes a program that has grown organically from 40 cities in 2004 to 767 in 2011, the first year the movement hit an estimated "more than a million" mark.
"There are so many cities where the Million Father March morphs into other activities," says Jackson. Communities that have put their own signature on the effort to get dads to take their children to school include:
Duvall County, Fla., where the school district is asking fathers to sign up for a commitment to volunteer 10 hours during the school year;
Philadelphia, Pa., where this is the fifth year of participation, and fathers are asked to spend the day in school with their children;
The Inland Empire in California, which started a "Back-to-School" parade to kick off the event, and cities like Chicago have picked up on it;
Volunteer "stand-in" fathers are ready in some parts of the country as well, to fill in for fathers who are in the military, or those who are incarcerated, cannot accompany their sons and daughters to school.
Broward County, Fla., where at the behest of Board of Education member Benjamin Williams, fathers sign in and are counted—so the county knows that last year 36,000 participated.
"When you think about all the school districts out there, if they all paid the same attention to this, we could easily get 3 or 4 million fathers to participate," said Jackson.
Parents—both mothers and fathers—are integral to children’s lives and their success at school, and meaningful parental involvement in their children's education begins well before the first day of school. It begins with the choice of schools their children attend.