Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dads can be rock stars at school

It's easy to be cynical about absentee fathers,  but watching men come to school with their kids Monday morning was inspiring.

Jamison Smith with nephew and son

"You have to be in a child's life,  especially in school,"  said Rahim Nash,  who brought his 9-year-old son Arkivius to Allenbrook Elementary.  Nash said his own father never showed up at school,  but he wants things to different for his son.

"Both parents need to be involved,"  agreed Michael Strong,  who brought 7-year-old Donovon even though he knew he'd have to rush to get to work across town.

The  "Million Father March"  movement focuses on low-income minority communities,  where dads are more likely to be missing from the family and academic struggles are endemic. Project LIFT,  which made a big push to get men into schools on Monday,  serves that kind of community.

But I'm willing to bet schools from Cornelius to Ballantyne would like to see more dads in schools.  Women still tend to take the lead role in parenting and school volunteer work,  regardless of race or income.  And whether we like it or not,  that means men get extra attention from the kids when they show up to have lunch or read with a student.  A male presence at school sends a message  --  and it's a very different one than kids get from pop culture.

It can be tough for working parents,  male or female,  to break away during school hours.  But think of it this way:  Where else can you count on being looked up to,  literally and figuratively?
Anthony Gardner documents his daughter's first day
(These photos are shot by Jeff Siner; click here to see the Observer's "back to school" slide show.)


Anonymous said...

At least these dads are showing some support for their favorite NBA teams by wearing their swag to the first day of school.
Next year, leave the hats in the car.

Anonymous said...

Showing up to your kid's first day of school means nothing if you don't live with your kid.

Shamash said...

Funny, but I've been to two "first day" events at school already.

I saw plenty of men there with their children.

But no camera crews to record the event.

Oh, wait, I live in suburbia...

Where that's a "dog bites man" instead of "man bites dog" kind of event.

bobcat99 said...

I hear quite a bit about how African Americans play the race card and make mountains out of molehills when it come to race. The comments section of the Observer leads me to another conclusion...that whites have a need to play the race card that is just as strong, if not stronger, than non-whites. As a white guy, this is really disappointing.

Anonymous said...

The negativity in these comments is shameful and sad. Any parent's involvement should be appreciated and not belittled.

Kindness is magic, people.

Anonymous said...

The negative posters are so disappointing. Dad's of any color, nationality or fashion preference should be applauded for being involved with their kids. And making fun of the kids' names? Really? Sad. I give these guys props for celebrating their kids and trying not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made. If we all did that, we would leave the world a better place than we found it.

Anonymous said...

Bobcat99: unless some comments were deleted, you were the first one to bring up race.

All parents should be applauded for participating in their child's lives, whether they live with them or not.

Believe it or not Anon 8:04, a parent can be heavily involved in their children's lives without living with them. It's up to the parents to make that happen.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Shamash, check the local front of today's Observer. You'll see the superintendent joining suburban parents, including a father, walking kids to McKee Road Elementsry.

Anonymous said...

Anons, bobcats, and others...

Where's the media celebration of the regular ol' dad (and mom) out in the boonies who helps with the kids all the time?

And not just when there is a special call-to-arms from special interest groups for photo ops as this event clearly was.

While you and others may say "all parents" should be applauded for being in their kids lives...

Look who's ACTUALLY getting the applause here.

And why.

It seems to me that the "race card" was originally played by the organizers of this non-event.

It is a clear reference to the Million Man March of a few years back which was organized by the master race baiter Farrakhan himself.

Shamash said...


Is that the printed edition?

Either way, that's fine.

I saw all kinds of kids and parents at school recently, but not as part of this "event".

They were there because that's what they ALWAYS do.

Many of them were the same parents I saw last year and the year before and the year before that, etc.

It's what I (and we) consider normal behavior and not part of some special movement.

(In more breaking news, my wife drove our kid to school today and I packed his lunch and water bottle as did most of the other parents on our cul-de-sac

Film at 11...)

Unknown said...

bobcat, when the article starts out strong by mentioning the million father march, and showing two african-american fathers with their kids....then "race" is already involved. There isn't one person that doesn't agree that fathers spending more time with their kids is a good thing. Fortunately the article did not go into numbers or stats....which would explain the reason for the article itself (i.e. why it's such a big deal, and why it should be done more, and celebrated).

Anonymous said...

a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. a big thank you to all the dads who participated in the first day. and for those first timers, welcome!

Anonymous said...

I agree that some of the comments on here have been disappointing and that parental participation and encouragement in a child's schooling is very important. But I do find it sad that this participation is being celebrated because it has not been the norm. How did this happen? How did things get to the point that fathers were considered expendable? Exactly why haven't community leaders been all over this for the past twenty to thirty years?

Shamash said...

Anon 9:53.

Exactly one of my points as well.

Why is normal being celebrated as "special" in the "minority" community?

What is that really saying?

It's like being proud of not having your children in prison.

(Certainly a good thing, but, seriously, what is that REALLY saying? That you were truly expecting otherwise?)

To me it's like damning men (and minority men in particular) with faint praise.

Wow, at least the fathers showed up for the first day of school!

When, in fact, MANY fathers are working with their kids all the time with no special attention (or expectation of attention).

Also it detracts from other newsworthy events like the

Hundred Hmong Hike

Anonymous said...

Race card?

Someone hasn't been following those links.

From the link in the original post to:

"Million Father March"

The Million Father March is an opportunity for Black men to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children on the first day of school and throughout the school year.

Anonymous said...

WOW , The white folks in the community do that same thing at our school without HATS. We roll em up and get it done. What fools these folks are and what fools the CO is to even run with a story like this .

Anonymous said...

Folks thus you see the conflict of values in our community and why certain groups succeed and others do not. And then you have those like the community organizers, the liberal Charlotte Observer editors, and the politicans who believe in "to seem rather than to be".

The kids suffer with all of this. From the transparency of this photo-op to the classses for black girls where they pay them to "not" get pregnant.

You can only present the path to success. You can not make them travel down it. (You know, you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink.) And to those who say, well you will pay for them later, that is rapidly coming to an end. The senior vote will start swinging away from this party who wants to keep these people up and let seniors suffer the cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Anonymous said...

This is a bizarre story-that is a parents job. Its articles like this make it seem okay to be absent. Stupid

On another note-I'm curious to know how the breakfast thing is working. At our school, my child walks past the cafeteria after getting off the bus. I was really thinking they would be encouraging them to go in there-but not a peep. I guess its know that in the suburbs we feed our kids.

Peggy S. said...

Dads can be rock stars at home too, if they're there. I agree with 6:58 that this is a bizarre story. So certain segments of society get praised for giving minimal effort in a child's life? Walking them to school? People need to wake up, I mean grow up and act like adults (even if it's hard).

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ann for reporting on this. It's great to hear a positive story to start off the new year

Anonymous said...

A positive story?

One thing's for sure she was right that it's easy to be cynical about absentee fathers.

And it still is. Even if you applaud them (or their stand-in) for showing up.

I still think this is a sad commentary on what has become the norm in some segments of our society today.

And a major coup for a race-based organization seeking media attention.

The Black Star Project, eh?

I wonder if a similar White Star Project composed of white people encouraging white men to do this with a "White Men of Honor Mentor Program" would get the same national exposure.

For some reason, I doubt that the PC press would oblige whites clamoring for similar attention in a "positive" way.

Daddy Daycare said...

I'm glad this story made some people feel good. It actually made me feel sad. Even today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MLK speech, we continue to hear excuses from various segments of the population (all colors by the way)why they just can't make the right decisions. Education is free, reading is free, knowledge is free. No More Excuses!

Anonymous said...

I remember hearing Dr. Gorman on the radio one morning after he has spent the morning talking to parents when they dropped off their kids at West Charlotte HS. They insisted they had done all they needed to do when they got them to school. He could not get through to them the need for 24/7 involvement and stressing education was their way out of poverty. The conclusion you would draw from their conversation was poverty (not really being poor) was a pretty good life. No responsibility to be anywhere like work. Roughly 30k a year tax free. Liberals always ready to stand up for you if some one made an issue of you and your lifestyle.

amyo said...

I guess I don't understand the negativity in so many comments here. I'm at my kids' school often, and although dads do come to school occasionally, by far the majority of visitors are moms. However, the kids are so excited when dads DO come--even the kids from "advantaged" backgrounds benefit from seeing that men are a part of schools and schooling.

Another thing--I think that there is a tacit assumption across economic and class levels that rearing and educating children is "women's work" and therefore not important for men to participate in. I think many men would like to come to school and play a stronger role in PTO work, etc, but feel that asking for time off to do those things is frowned upon. I suspect that for low income parents, the pressure to be at work is even more intense. Add in the fact that many of the men who really NEED to be there probably had really negative experiences and associations with schooling, and it's easy to see (for me, anyway) that the dads in the pictures in the article should be celebrated.

--Amy Overbay

Anonymous said...

With over 10% unemployment in many areas of the county you'd think more parents would have time to help out at schools.