Writing for CNN’s Schools of Thought blog, NFI's Christopher Brown and Vincent DiCaro reveal the missing piece of education reform. Brown and DiCaro point out that "There is no shortage of answers about how to improve our nation’s schools, including more charter schools, school vouchers, standardized testing, lower teacher-student ratios and performance-based hiring, pay and promotion of teachers. However, what we find lacking in almost every debate about education reform is the role of families - especially fathers - and the support they can and should provide to ensure children’s educational success. If parents, educators and reformers are to make a difference in improving children’s educational success, we must expand our definition of education reform."
They continue, "children in two-parent homes were more likely to stay on track in school and have higher literacy, both of which are critical to overall educational success."
Pointing to research on marriage from Pew Research Center saying barely one-half - 51% - of adults today are married, down from 72% in 1960, the article says, "The decline of marriage, the rise of divorce and the increase in out-of-wedlock births - now 40% of all births - has contributed to the reality that more than 24 million children in America live in homes absent a biological father."
Brown and DiCaro do not write only to complain, but to offer real solutions for educational improvement. They point out several real-life things fathers can do at home and in school to help their children succeed:
- Attend school and class events, or even spend a day in the classroom—your presence communicates something to your child and to their teachers.
- Read to your children every day.
- Help with school work.
- Don’t let mom do all the work.
Some believe that school is “mom’s territory,” but fathers are just as important to their children’s educations as their mothers. Brown and DiCaro add that schools can help to create father-friendly environments by:
- Including posters, reading materials and visual cues that show dads are welcome.
- Distribute parenting resources targeted to dads, as well as moms.
- Hold seminars for staff members to remind them how important it is for dads to be involved.
- Create dad-centric events, like “Dad and Donuts Day” where fathers join children at school for breakfast.
Brown and DiCaro do well to explain, "Changing parents’ and schools’ views of parental involvement are part of education reform. But most importantly, we must also address and reverse the two most disturbing trends of the past half-century - the increase in the number of children growing up in father-absent homes and the decline in marriage. These two issues are inseparable and have a direct impact on our children’s success in school."
Read the full article at CNN's Schools of Thought.
photo credit: dcJohn
One of NFI’s goals is to be a voice for fatherhood on Capitol Hill. Over the years, for example, we have helped push through funding that supports organizations seeking to equip dads.
So, while there is funding for programs providing needed services to fathers, there is a general lack of funding available for organizations to obtain the “capacity-building” training and services they need to build long-term sustainability.
What is capacity-building? It is what organizations need to be more effective in their service delivery in the present and more viable organizations in the future. Leadership development, organizational development, program development, and community engagement would all qualify as capacity-building services.
That is why we have created an initiative to inform Congress that federal fatherhood grantees should be allowed to use a portion of their funds to procure capacity-building services and training.
While service delivery is the most important use of grant funds, those services need to be delivered by effective organizations – and that is where capacity-building comes in. It will help organizations do a better job serving fathers and ultimately lead to better outcomes for children.
We have set up a page on our website where you and/or your organization can make your voice heard! The grant program for fatherhood programs will be reviewed in Congress later this year, so now is the time to ensure that future grantees will have the flexibility to use some of their grant funds for capacity-building.
Here is what we would like for you to do:
As an individual – Use our special webpage to send your opinion directly to your members of Congress. The more voices that come on board, the more persuasive we can be!
As an organization – Sign on to become an "endorsing organization" of this effort to allow federal fatherhood grantees to use a portion of their funds for capacity-building services. Your organization's name will be listed alongside National Fatherhood Initiative as a supporter or this important advocacy effort.
We will soon inform Congress and the White House of all the people and organizations that are behind this effort.
Thank you so much in advance for helping us in this important effort. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact Vincent DiCaro, NFI’s Congressional liaison at email@example.com.
National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) recently recognized New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a Fatherhood Award™ in a ceremony at LaGuardia Community College.
Mayor Bloomberg was honored for his leadership in launching two initiatives to strengthen fatherhood and families in the city: the Young Men’s Initiative and NYC Dads, New York’s first city-wide effort to engage fathers and help them to connect with their children.
Mayor Bloomberg, a father of two daughters, has consistently demonstrated, through his administration’s policies and practices, a deep understanding of how father involvement not only helps children, but strengthens the entire city.
Upon launching the city-wide fatherhood initiative in 2010, Bloomberg said:
Strong families make a strong New York. But too many children in this city are growing up without their fathers. We want more children in our City to experience the encouragement, support and love of their fathers.
Mayor Bloomberg also understands the link between the challenges facing the black and Latino youth of the city and the problem of father absence. One of the key changes in practice that was identified upon the launch of the Young Men’s Initiative was to encourage family-serving agencies in the city to “identify where obstacles to father involvement can be reduced.” This approach coincides with research showing that young men without involved fathers face significantly greater risks of failing in school, using drugs, becoming involved in the criminal justice system, and facing a host of other challenges.
NFI President Roland C. Warren said:
Mayor Bloomberg’s innovative thinking and powerful leadership are making it possible for New York City to be an example for cities across the country on how to effectively serve whole families. Too often, dads have been left out of the equation, but Mayor Bloomberg is ensuring that the city’s agencies will serve them, which will lead to stronger families and a stronger New York.
At a time when 32 percent of all New York City children under the age of 17 live in households without a father, and 54 percent of black and 43 percent of Latino children grow up in fatherless households, Mayor Bloomberg’s pioneering leadership on this issue is critical.
Warren presented the Fatherhood Award™ to Mayor Bloomberg at the first graduation for the CUNY Fatherhood Academy. As part of the Young Men’s Initiative’s effort to strengthen fathers and their families, the Mayor launched the CUNY Fatherhood Academy in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement. The CUNY Fatherhood Academy is a free comprehensive program intended to promote responsible parenting and foster economic stability for unemployed and underemployed young fathers by preparing fathers to apply to earn a GED and enroll in, and graduate from college.
As part of the city’s important work to become more father-friendly, NFI was recently contracted by the Department of Youth and Community Development to train and provide technical assistance on NFI's 24/7 Dad™ fatherhood curriculum, which equipped the department’s fatherhood grantees to address the most critical needs of the city’s low-income, non-custodial fathers.
Inaugurated in 1997, NFI’s Fatherhood Award™ is presented each year to individuals, corporations, and organizations that make a substantial contribution to strengthening involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood. Among the recipients of the Fatherhood Award™ are: country music superstar Tim McGraw; former-NFL coach Tony Dungy; NBA superstar Dwyane Wade; newsman and author Tim Russert; and corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Google, and Chevrolet.
National Fatherhood Initiative works in every sector and at every level of society to engage fathers in the lives of their children. Connect with The Father Factor by RSS, Facebook and on Twitter @TheFatherFactor.
Image: NYC Mayor's Office