Men from Kappa Alpha Psi prepare to greet students at Emmit Till Math and Science Academy in Chicago. (Photo by Andre Guichard)
"The most important lesson for our children today was not inside the schools but in the long lines of fathers and men outside of the schools who came to encourage children to do well in school and life." Phillip Jackson
(Chicago, Illinois)- Question - What was different about the first day of school in Chicago in 2015 that created the best first day of attendance ever? Answer - The tremendous success of the Million Father March!!! Tens of thousands of men, mostly Black and Latino men, made a conscious decision to ensure that their children started school on that first day. Their actions led to a 95% first day attendance rate for Chicago schools, highest ever in the history of Chicago.
In all parts of the city, more fathers took their children to school and more men welcomed children to schools than ever before. Most educational experts know that one of the best ways to improve the academic performance of students is to get fathers and families to participate effectively in the educational and social-developmental lives of their children.
100-plus fathers and men welcome students back to Wentworth Elementary School in Chicago. (Photo by Ranoule Tatum)
Fatherhood research predicted this massive turnout of Chicago students on the first day because better attendance is one of the by-products of more father participation in the educational lives of their children. Research also shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives do better in school (earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college). Additionally, children whose fathers listen to and talk with them regularly, and are active in their lives, have fewer behavior problems.
Good fathers are part of a good parent team, which is critical to creating strong family structures. Strong family structures produce children who are more academically proficient, socially developed, and self-assured. Such children become adults who are valuable assets to their communities. "Better parents produce better families, better communities, better schools, and better students with higher academic achievements," says Phillip Jackson, founder ofThe Million Father March.
Pershing East Magnet School in Chicago was the National Demonstration School. (Photo by Leonard McGee)
While fathers, educators and students were ecstatic about the showing of fathers and men at Chicago schools, the people who were most appreciative were mothers, grandmothers and women who brought young men to school. Some women took their sons down the long receiving lines of strong, powerful, positive Black men two, three and four times! "The most important lesson for our children today was not inside the schools but in the long lines of fathers and men outside of the schools who came to encourage children to do well in school and life," Jackson says.
The Million Father March is a special day when fathers and other men make a commitment to their children, their families, their communities and their country with their dynamic presence at a school. Fathers were asked to make a year-long commitment by volunteering 10 hours during the coming school year at their child's school. This is the real Fathers Day!
Five hundred fifty (550) cities across America participated in the2015 Million Father March, many getting similar results as Chicago. Cities in Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Virgin Islands also participated. Participants in the Million Father March include fathers, grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers, mentors and family friends. Businesses were asked to give fathers and other men two hours off that morning, with pay, to take their children to school.