Durham schools pushing for more dads to get involved

Posted August 26, 2013

— Hillside High School in Durham kicked off the start of the 2013-14 school year Monday with a call to action for dads to become more involved in their children's lives at school.

Fathers, male relatives and other caregivers escorted their children to class on the first day as part of the nationwide Million Father March – a movement for black men to commit to volunteering at least 10 hours during the school year, mentoring students, helping them with their studies and being part of school activities.

More than 600 cities in the United States take part in the program.

"A lot of research shows that when a father is present in a child's life, it helps promote successfulness at school," Eric Becoats, superintendent of Durham Public Schools, said.

According to The Black Star Project, a Chicago nonprofit that started Million Father March, studies show that children who have men regularly involved in their education and social development have higher standardized test scores, grades and graduation rates and lower rates of suspension, expulsion, arrest and violent behavior.

Bobby Hill and Bobby Hill Durham dads head to class with kids

Timothy Primus, assistant principal at Hillside High School in Durham, brought Million Father March to the school.

"I just saw a lack of having fathers in a lot of the students' lives," he said. "A lot of the kids that only have mothers have a lot of anger and aggression, and I just feel having a positive influence on their lives is going to help them."

Although Million Father March was only at Hillside High this year, Becoats is encouraging fathers across the school district to get involved.

"Me, myself, being raised in a single-parent household, I see the importance of having a male in your life, having someone to work with you," he said. "It's also a way to have more men involved in the schools throughout the year. So, it's not just bringing your child to school today, it's really advocating men to volunteer throughout the year."

Ronald Singletary went to school for his daughter, Asia.

"I didn't have a father growing up, and I'm here to support my child, to be a better dad than what my daddy was," Singletary said.

For Hillside junior Bobby Hill, showing up with his father to homeroom was a bit embarrassing, he said, but he added that he appreciates the support.

"I'm one of the few that can have a dad, so I'm very honored that he could walk me to class," Hill said. "I don't really want him here in front of my friends and stuff, but at the end of the day, I'm glad I can have somebody, and at the end of the day, I'm proud to say he's my dad."

Hill's father, also Bobby Hill, said being involved is important to him.

"I was one of those young men who grew up without a father, and every day that he wakes up, I want him to see that he has someone that looks like him, talks like him and is here to protect him," the elder Hill said.


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  • same ole story Aug 29, 2013

    "there should not be one bad comment about this story. we have people trying, really trying. i applaud the efforts."
    jackflash123 The saddest part of this whole story is that it has to take a school to get the so called "fathers" involved in their child's life. That child that they are a part of!! Really sad state of affairs when it has to be brought on by the schools to sign a form that they will actually care about them??!!

  • Jack Flash Aug 27, 2013

    "there should not be one bad comment about this story. we have people trying, really trying. i applaud the efforts."

    Unfortunately, there are too many people here who apparently only feel good about themselves when they are tearing others down. Ironically, they like to complain about how a variety of things are signs that society is crumbling, when in truth it is their own hatred of their fellow humans that is really damaging society.

  • TwoWheels Aug 27, 2013

    There is a program at an elementary school in Virginia where my sister taught - called DOGS - Dads of Great Students. The D.O.G.S program encouraged every Dad/Father Figure, etc., to donate at least 1 day to the school - not necessarily in their child's classroom - but to be visible in various areas of the school for the whole day. The dad/father figure (any race, by the way) got a special parking spot next to the principal’s spot, a special t-shirt, and a letter thanking him for his time and presence. This seems like it would be a great program to be implemented in our schools.

  • swoodsreader Aug 27, 2013

    The media and the government have marginalized the role of the father essentially saying fathers are unimportant and "here's some money for having your baby". When Dan Quayle criticized tv shows for reinforcing these ideas the media said he was stupid and the government responded with more transfer payments. Isn't this hypocrisy?

  • whatelseisnew Aug 27, 2013

    Excellent. Kudos to the fathers that are making the right kind of effort and Kudos to Durham schools. I am very critical of the public schools, but I do understand that there are tremendous hurdles for even the best teachers to have a high level of success. Having fathers clearing demonstrating to their children the importance of education not only helps the children and for that matter society, it is a big boost for the teachers if they have students that are really engaged in the learning process.

  • too-obvious Aug 27, 2013

    there should not be one bad comment about this story. we have people trying, really trying. i applaud the efforts.

  • Confucius say Aug 27, 2013

    If a father is not in a child's life because of choice, then he is nothing more than a sperm donor. The problem is huge and will take efforts by men and women to make things better for the kids. Until people stop having unprotected sex with casual partners this problem will continue. It takes's not just the men. A tax system and welfare system that supports a family structure would also help. The current systems foster young single mothers who can't support their kids without government help. And until those that live in those conditions stop playing the victim and make some efforts, nothing will change. This is a good effort, but it is going to take much, much more.

  • Jack Flash Aug 27, 2013

    "It is sad if someone has to encourage you to be involved in your child's life. A real man (dad) would want to be involved and would not need someone to try and convience him to do so. Of course look where we are talking about."

    Where are we talking about? Where there are Black people? Is that what you meant?

    All men and all dads, 'real' or not, make mistakes. I'd say the real men (and dads) try to right those wrongs, so we should applaud people for looking to do right, no matter what their previous choices have been. On the climb to the top of Great Dad Mountain, the guys who first fell into a hole have further to climb. A lot of them never start. We should be encouraging those who do to keep going.

  • Jack Flash Aug 27, 2013

    "What a sad statement of that community. They have to have the Dads come to school with THEIR CHILDREN???? To show they care?!?!?! Being a Dad is a 24 -7 responsibility!!"

    Can we start from a point of acknowledging that a lot of fathers have made pretty bad choices up until this point as far as being in their children's lives? Which would be sadder, then: ignoring it and continuing as is, or doing SOMETHING to try to start the 24/7 process of fixing it?

    Seriously, when someone completes a 12-step program (with successfulnessitudeity!), do you heckle them, saying they never should have gotten into that situation in the first place?

  • Jack Flash Aug 27, 2013

    "This will be the only day you will see them. They are all about show."

    Tune in tomorrow when stymie makes a statement about how no one ever addresses any problems in our communities based on his not seeing it.