My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: he believed in me.
Jim Valvano (Coach and Mentor)
There are community programs, social initiatives, governmental support, school vouchers,
urban initiatives, and religious seminars, creating opportunities for fathers to be active
in their child’s school.
If Fathers Can look past their White faces, African American faces, Hispanic faces,
Latino faces, Asian faces, Haitian faces and other cultural faces and see there are more Intervening (failing) schools that need more support by fathers being mentors and role models; the Mayor of Jacksonville, Florida has set a great example by getting involved showing that collaboration of government and education can work in saving programs and empowering students. There is applause, congratulations and high fives from these successes, it does not have to stop there. If Fathers Can work together positive change for our schools can be created.
“A man's worth is measured by how he parents his children. What he gives them, what he keeps away from them, the lessons he teaches and the lessons he allows them to learn on their own.” Lisa Rogers
If Fathers Can see sports and entertainment are viable alternative outlets to rise from poverty, they should see opportunities in (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics for their children. Statistically the odds of being a sports and entertainment star are exceedingly low, but the odds to be involved in areas of STEM, for children even minorities are higher with the proper community and family support along with a strong college/university level education. Students can beat the odds of failure if they have the parental support from their families. The Mayor has set a great example, fathers can make a significant impact if they are involved.
In the educational realms of school districts nationwide, students shouldn’t wait on Superman, Batman, to save schools or save children. There are more children in Alternative Education Programs, Overage Programs, STAR Programs, Drop Back In Programs, Title One Programs, and the list grows that the line between “regular student” and “alternative education students” blurs. The movie “I Can Do Bad All by Myself”(2009) suggests, no student should have to do bad at all if education is supported and respected, if fathers make the choice to support their children not just on an athletic field, but on academic fields where it is more important. Across this country fathers are perceived as not wanting to make a serious role in schools and be held accountable for their children’s academics. Schools have academic success stories and academic strengths because of father’s participation; there should be more. All children need support and guidance to be successes in education; children need to hear success stories, stories of overcoming poverty, drugs, violence, and devastating family situations, they need to hear from fathers, grandfathers, uncles, stepfathers, and surrogate fathers. Their voices are important and do make a difference.
There is a growing travesty not just in the African American community, (but it is felt more) fathers are missing the opportunity to volunteer, mentor and positively influence children
in their education. Interestingly fathers attend football games and basketball games,
exalt and praise sports, but are few in parent/teacher conferences, school board meetings, PTA meetings and School Advisory Councils. A father’s attendance is important for the support and encouragement of their children’s growth and setting a model for the value of education.
“Our problems cannot be solved by others only by ourselves,” (Malcolm X 1961, Saturday Evening Post).
If Fathers Can take this opportunity to be proactive, become involved in the schools, support their child who is a student who may feel unsupported and alone. If Fathers Can build on a paradigm shift that was started by Mayor Brown to support schools by visiting, inspiring students, encouraging other fathers, building on success, and setting high expectations. More fathers should be proactive and supporting success; fathers need to be involved. If Fathers Can attend football games, get hyped, excited and envisioning champions on athletic fields, where is that same vision and energy for champions in the classroom?
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the change that we seek.” President Barack Obama
If Fathers Can rise up and be the role models, mentors, support mechanism and influencers of academic change then our students should be able to attend higher education (college and university), vocational education and military educational options instead of potentially being denied entrance because of low test scores, low motivation and no support.
Malcolm X once stated, "Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today."
As an instructor at Edward Waters College I see the excitement in student faces and personal drive, there is great talent and awesome potential. Even at the college level students need continued parental support and guidance, fathers do make a difference.
No student should be looked down on by where they go to school; they should be celebrated and supported for their desire to continue their education no matter what school they attend. How will children be prepared for the future if they are not supported, guided and motivated?
The future holds new jobs in technology; who will be the engineers and scientist that create and support new technologies? If Fathers Can model the value for education and hard work more students will graduate successfully; If Fathers Can motivate their children to understand in this decade, “nearly two-thirds, of all the jobs created will require a college degree (White, S. 2006, NCES). If Fathers Can be consistant and dedicated in supporting, encouraging, and mentoring educational opportunities more children in school will be successful academically and there will be none or fewer intervening (failing) schools in any neighborhoods in America.
by Sean Jackson (Florida A&M), William Jackson, M.Ed. and Cheryl Williams, RN