Developing Dads

New York

Million Father March involves fathers in education

Maurice Jordan with his children on the first day of school. "If you know where your kids are, step up to your responsibilities and be a man," Maurice Jordan, father of Shakim, 13, and Muneerah, 5, said this morning, as he accompanied his children to school. Fatherhood, he said, is "an easy job, it's a fun job." Jordan, who says he got custody of his children last year, believes his involvement in their education has led to academic success. "Between these two, I think it's like thirty awards and certificates last year." To promote this kind of involvement, organizers from churches, community organizations, and the Office of Children and Family Services encouraged fathers — and other male relatives — to walk their children to school today as part of New York City's Million Father March. The march, sponsored nationally by The Black Star Project, the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and other organizations, aimed to highlight the importance of fathers in their children's education. At C.S. 133 in Harlem, parents arriving with their children were greeted warmly by school administrators and teachers, event organizer Melvin Aston of the Office of Children and Family Services, and City Council Member Inez Dickens. Dickens said that fathers must be encouraged to step out from their traditional behind-the-scenes roles and play a more public role in their children's lives. "We need to show them, it's all right for you to bring your child to school instead of the mother, it's all right for you to bring them to a doctor's appointment." Both boys and girls benefit from having an involved father, she added. The movement focused on one school in each borough this year, although fathers throughout the city were encouraged to walk their children to school, according to Deb Jenkins, Senior Pastor of the Faith @ Work Church, who organized the Bronx event. "When a father is present, we see that the academic outcomes are greater," Jenkins said.