September 5, 2011

If Fathers Can

If Fathers Can

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 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 city 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 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 community, church and family support, 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 consistently.

In the educational realms of school districts nationwide, students shouldn’t wait on Superman, Batman to save schools or save them. 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 student” 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 a choice to support their children not just on an athletic field, but on academic field where it is more important. Across this country fathers are perceived as not wanting to take 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, (it is felt more here) 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.

If Fathers Can take this opportunity to be proactive, become involved in the schools, support their child who may feel unsupported and alone. If Fathers Can build on a paradigm shift similar to what was created by Jacksonville, Florida Mayor Brown to support schools by visiting, inspiring students, encouraging fathers, building on success, and setting high expectations. More fathers should be proactive and visible; 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 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. To many students attending college/university take remedial classes to gain entrance.

Malcolm X 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 their personal drive, there is great talent and awesome potential. Even at the college level students need 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; 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, educational opportunities more children will be successful academically and there will be none or fewer intervening (failing) schools in neighborhoods in America.

by Sean Jackson (Florida A&M), William Jackson, M.Ed. and Cheryl Williams, RN

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