Mobile Toggle
btn-shop-fathersourcehomepage-btnbrn-free-resources
rsstwfbenews

The Father Factor

subpage-image

(Video) Are Dads the Missing Link in Education Reform?

24 million children without biological fathers in the home. This is a stat we at NFI mention a lot. The number can be so big that it loses its meaning. However, if you take time to break most societal ills down, you find that father absence is a big part of the problem. Fix the state of fatherhood and remedy many ills in society. Education isn't immune to the father absence crisis, both in America and globally.

PA is 25th State to Standardize NFI's InsideOut Dad®

Facilities Across Pennsylvania Have Been Equipped to Deliver NFI’s InsideOut Dad® Program to Connect Incarcerated Fathers With Their Children

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has trained 37 Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) staff members on how to deliver NFI’s InsideOut Dad® program to incarcerated fathers across Pennsylvania.

The training took place at a Training Academy in Elizabethtown, PA on January 15 and 16 following the decision of PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel to standardize InsideOut Dad® at the state’s 24 adult male correctional facilities and 1 boot camp facility. The training equipped treatment specialists, corrections counselors, and chaplains to deliver the classroom-based curriculum to fathers seeking to reconnect with their children. The curriculum covers topics such as family history, what it means to be a man, showing and handling feelings, co-parenting, and much more.

The Missing Piece in Education Reform—Dads

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." 

Advocate for Dads in Washington, DC!

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.

New Jersey Focuses on Fatherhood

National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) has been awarded a contract from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (NJDCF) to strengthen the state’s services to fathers.

Through the provision of training and technical assistance on its flagship 24/7 Dad® program, NFI will help the state’s 175 NJDCF-funded agencies deliver standardized, high-quality services to fathers across the state. This 18-month process will give NJDCF the ability to more effectively measure the impact of fatherhood programming on pro-fathering skills, attitudes, and knowledge in New Jersey.

When the Principal's Name is Dad

As a graduate of home education, I often get two common reactions when people learn that I was homeschooled through 12th grade.  "Wow, I would have never guessed - you don't act like a homeschooler!"  I believe this is meant to be a compliment on my social skills and fun, outgoing personality... I think.  Or, "How you did learn advanced math and science at home?!" 

What Was Missing in Sandusky Case? Fathers

Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse a week ago. Despite the verdict, important questions should continue to be asked. Why didn’t the assistant football coaches do something? Why didn’t the school administration do something? But the biggest, most pointed question is, “How in the world was Sandusky able to prey on so many young boys for so long?”

From our perspective, Sandusky would not have been able to do what he did had he not had access to so many boys growing up in father-absent homes.

Father Absence And School Discipline

Before I joined NFI’s staff, I never heard of the term "father absence," but I was most certainly a product of it.

Raised by a single, African-American mother in a tough neighborhood, I had to navigate the dangers of my environment and still be a well-behaved student. My mother worked late five days a week, and I was left alone often. Naturally, I modeled my behavior after the tough guys in the neighborhood, carrying that attitude into school. I was in trouble frequently for insubordination and not following instructions. Mom attributed much of my actions to my father not being around to help guide me.

A national survey conducted by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) points to a glaring gap between the discipline students of color faced compared to their white counterparts. The numbers showed that while the collected data counted for just 18 percent of African-American students, Black males were shown to have nearly twice as many suspensions and even higher numbers for expulsion.

According to recent reports compiled using Census data and other sources, it was found that last year just 33 percent of Black children lived in a two-parent household compared to 85 percent of Asian children, 75 percent of White children and 60 percent of Hispanic children. Nearly all children living in single-parent homes lived with their mothers, with over half of those being Black children.

While the OCR survey is said to be expanding its research categories in the ongoing survey, it hasn’t been said to include data regarding the number of parents in the home. Education Secretary Arne Duncan addressed reporters in an open call on Monday ahead of the release of the data, asserting that the numbers are not directly a result of discrimination. Educators, obviously invested in what the data means ultimately, wisely noted that race, poverty and struggling school districts plays a part in what’s happening.

I scoured a lot of text while writing this blog entry, and not one person mentioned the family structure, at least in my searches. There is nothing said on whether these students of color are in two-parent homes or not. According to research, children from father-absent homes are more like to have behavioral problems. Why are commentators ignoring this reality?

In my own experiences, not having my father present in the home directly impacted how I behaved when I was not under my mother’s care. I’m not a statistician or researcher, but other numbers mesh with this report. 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers, with two out of three Black children and one of three Hispanic children dealing with father absence.

That alone points to something I’d like to see the OCR address in their further collection of data. While it’s not the Department of Education’s aim to offer a counter to the problem of father absence, I’m a living example of how the issue of academic failure could also be attributed to growing up in an unbalanced home environment.

Regardless of race and other societal factors, you can’t always expect well-behaved children in the face of father absence. In fact, the more the gap widens between fathers and children, the more we can expect numbers like this to spike even higher, and that’s truly a shame.

Lessons Learned: Giving to Receive

One of the first Bible precepts that I learned in Sunday School as a small boy was that it is better to give than to receive. Now, as a little guy, I wasn’t a big fan of this concept, especially around my birthday and Christmas. In any case, a few days ago, I was thumbing through a recent copy of Forbes magazine and I came across an article by Michael Norton provocatively titled “Yes, Money Can Buy Happiness…If you give it away.”

Norton is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and he has been researching how changes in income impact well-being. For example, he recently asked 315 Americans to rank their happiness on a 100 point scale and predict how happy they would be if they made ten different incomes, ranging from $5,000 up to $1,000,000. So, for example, he found that those who made $25,000 a year predicted that their happiness would double if they made $55,000. But when he measured their actual happiness, the change was about 7%. Moreover, he found that once people reached the US median income (about $60,000), the happiness return on additional income was very small.

Ironically, he did discover one way to “buy” more happiness with your money: Give it away. He hypothesized that although making more money helps us accumulate more material things, it does little to give us what the research shows makes us happier—quality relationships with others.

To test his theory, he and his team did a little experiment. They approached strangers on the street and gave them different sums of money ($5 or $20) and told them that they had to spend the money by the end of the day. But half were instructed to spend the money on themselves while the others were told to spend it on someone else. At the end of the day, Norton’s team learned that those who had to spend the money on themselves bought stuff like coffee and food. However, those who had to spend the money on others did things like donate to the homeless or buy a gift for a loved one.

So, who was happier? Yep, those who gave the money away. Interestingly, there was no difference in reported happiness between those who had to give $5 away verses those who gave $20 away. I guess when it comes to giving, it truly is the thought that counts.

So, why I am sharing all this? Maybe because it’s fundraising season and NFI needs you to give to us until you are in a state of joyous glee. Good guess, but nope. (Although, we certainly need the support and you can donate here. And, no gift is too large. :-))

Well, it is because I vividly recall that one of the early words that each of my kids uttered was “mine.” I seems that children are genetically wired to be self-focused and it’s a dads job to model and teach their children the joy that can be received from giving. And, you don’t need to wait until Sunday to start teaching. That is, if you can spare $5 bucks.

For kids, the "waiting" is the hardest part

CNN.com published an opinion piece by NFI president, Roland C. Warren, on the new documentary Waiting for "Superman."

His argument -- dads are the supermen kids need right now to succeed in school. The system will take time to sort itself out, but moms and dads can start today to build successful students.

So far, over 1,100 people have recommended the article on CNN.com, and there are nearly 200 comments.

Join the discussion at CNN.com!

The Time for Waiting is Over

By now, you have probably heard about the new documentary, Waiting for "Superman". If you haven't, take a look at the trailer here.

We at NFI had the privilege of seeing the film at its D.C. premiere last week, and we recommend it highly to dads and families. (it is out in LA and NYC now, with a wider release scheduled for October 8).

The film takes a close look at the types of students that our public school system is producing, and the results are not pretty. The United States ranks near the very bottom in reading and math in the industrialized world. Up until the 1970's, we were producing the best students in the world. What happened?

The film tries to answer that question and provides some strategies to turn things around. We are not experts on how to fix a large, complex educational system, but we do know one thing: dads can make an immediate impact on how well their children do in school. Today. They don't have to "wait" for the system to improve.

Without a single new program or additional dollar spent, children's academic performance can improve when dads read to them, help them with homework, talk to them about school, and encourage them.

We know from research that when dads do these things, children do better. When dads don't, children struggle. Education is not just mom's territory. Dads have to be engaged, too.

We want to challenge dads to contribute to school reform by starting with their own kids - today. We have created a discussion guide for Waiting for "Superman" and some other advice to help dads get involved. The film's official website also has some ideas.

So, dads, let's stop waiting for Superman to come save our kids. Let's be supermen!

The "Fathering Gap" in Education

This article, from yesterday's Washington Post, Making the Grade Isn't About Race. It's About Parents, is one of the more powerful pieces I have read in a while. Written by an English teacher from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, it bravely confronts some of the most thorny issues around why some students do well in school and others don't.

The most fascinating thing about the conclusions he reaches about the "achievement gap" in education is that his students themselves - not the "experts" - are helping him see what the real issue is.

When he asked his students, mostly black, about why they don't study as hard as students from Africa, a student replied, "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."

Another student said, "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us."

When he did, not one hand went up.

Furthermore, when empirical evidence meets real world experience, you know you are onto something. Several studies, including a landmark study from the U.S. Department of Education, reflect the reality that this teacher is recognizing in his classroom - children with fathers in the home get better grades, are less likely to drop out, and enjoy school more.

Hopefully this article will help the "experts" - who like to focus on less important demographic data - rethink the solutions for helping our children do better in school. They, like this wise teacher, should start listening to the children they seek to serve.

The Father Factor Blog: News, tips, and tools for dads and those helping dads.

Search Our Blog

Topics