Dads read to kids in LA to promote literacy

8 Jun

This comment is not politically correct. If you want politically correct, stop reading. Children, especially boys, need positive male role models. They don’t need another “uncle” or “fiancée” who when the chips are down cashes out. By the way, what is the new definition of “fiancée?” Is that someone who is rented for an indefinite term to introduce the kids from your last “fiancée” to? Back in the day, “fiancée” meant one was engaged to be married, got married and then had kids. Nowadays, it means some one who hangs around for an indeterminate period of time and who may or may not formalize a relationship with baby mama. Kids don’t need someone in their lives who has as a relationship strategy only dating women with children because they are available and probably desperate. What children, especially boys, need are men who are consistently there for them, who model good behavior and values, and who consistently care for loved ones. They don’t need men who have checked out of building relationships and those who are nothing more than sperm donors.

This Washington Post article made moi think about the importance of healthy male role models in a child’s life. This article is about a good male role model, a hero. Number of Black Male Teachers Belies Their Influence

“I love teaching, and I feel like I am needed,” said Thomas, 33, of Bowie. “We need black male teachers in our classrooms because that is the closest connection we are able to make to children. It is critical for all students to see black men in the classrooms involved in trying to make sure they learn and enjoy being in school.”

The shortage of black male teachers compounds the difficulties that many African American boys face in school. About half of black male students do not complete high school in four years, statistics show. Black males also tend to score lower on standardized tests, take fewer Advanced Placement courses and are suspended and expelled at higher rates than other groups, officials said.

Educators said black male teachers expose students to black men as authority figures, help minority students feel that they belong, motivate black students to achieve, demonstrate positive male-female relationships to black girls and provide African American youths with role models and mentors.

The reason that teachers like Will Thomas are needed, not just for African American kids, is because the number of households headed by single parents, particularly single women is growing. Not all single parent households are unsuccessful in raising children, but enough of them are in crisis that society should be concerned. The principle issues with single parenting are a division of labor and poverty. Two parents can share parenting responsibilities and often provide two incomes, which lift many families out of poverty. Families that have above poverty level incomes face fewer challenges than families living in poverty. Still, all families face the issue of providing good role models for their children. As a society, we are like the Marines, looking for a few good men.

Single Parent Households

About.Com has a quick snapshot of which was condensed from the original source Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2005 Information from the snapshot comes from the Custodial Mothers report which was released in 2007. According to Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2005, released by the U.S. Census Bureau in August, 2007, there are approximately 13.6 million single parents in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 21.2 million children (approximately 26% of children under 21 in the U.S. today).

So what’s the “average” single parent really like? According to the U.S. Census Bureau…

She is a Mother:

·         Approximately 84% of custodial parents are mothers, and

·         16% of custodial parents are fathers

She is Divorced or Separated:

Of the mothers who are custodial parents:

·         44% are currently divorced or separated

·         33% have never been married

·         22% are married (In most cases, these numbers represent women who have remarried.)

·         1% were widowed         

Of the fathers who are custodial parents:

·         57% are divorced or separated

·         24% are currently married (In most cases, these numbers represent men who have remarried.)

·         18% have never married

·         1% were widowed

She is Employed:

·         79% of custodial single mothers are gainfully employed

o                 50% work full time, year round

o                 29% work part-time or part-year

·         92% of custodial single fathers are gainfully employed

o                 74% work full time, year round

o                 18% work part-time or part-year

References:
United States. Census Department. Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2005. 

The current recession has likely increased the number of families in all categories that are classified as living in poverty even if it is a temporary condition. The Foundation for Child Development reports that the Child Well-being Index finds “after improving during the 1990s, since 2000, the economic well-being of families with children has declined.” Single parents suffer more during periods of economic decline.

Children in Poverty provides good data on the types of households most likely to be poor. Their findings for single parent households are:

Family structure continues to be strongly related to whether or not children are poor.

In 2007, children living in households headed by single mothers were more than five times as likely as

     children living in households headed by married parents to be living in poverty—42.9 percent  

     compared   with 8.5 percent. (See Figure 1 )

For non-Hispanic white children, the poverty rate in 2007 was 32.3 percent for children in single mother

    households compared with 4.7 percent for children in married households.

Similarly for black children, the poverty rate was 50.2 percent compared with 11 percent.

For Hispanic children, the poverty rate was 51.4 percent compared with 19.3 percent.

For Asian children, the poverty rate was 32 percent compared with 9.7 percent.

Families headed by single parents face economic challenges that are mitigated by two incomes.

Katrina Puga writes in the Education Nation article, Dads Read to Children in LA School to Promote Literacy about the importance of male role models:

Many of the students, ages 5 to 12, at the 99th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles, don’t know what it’s like to have a dad. So, in an effort to curb that, Donuts With Dads was created — a program in which dads, or male role models, from the community come to read books to the youngsters. Last month, 150 men participated in the school’s fifth annual event, and because of its success, dads will now be coming to the school to read every first Friday of every month — called Family Friday.

The elementary school is one of the Los Angeles Unified schools managed by the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, founded five years ago by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Since the program’s inception, which has grown through word of mouth, parent involvement rate at the school, which is 76 percent Latino, is now 85 percent — an increase of 65 percent.

About five years ago…Mayor Villaraigosa took over the 10 worst performing schools in south central Los Angeles around the housing projects in Watts and Boyle Heights,” says 99th Street Elementary School Principal Courtney Sawyer. “The whole staff noticed the terrible parent involvement — only about 10 percent would show up for parent night.”

In an effort to increase parent involvement, she says they took a survey of the school and determined that approximately 80 percent of the students were without fathers or consistent male role models in the household.

We started canvassing the communities to talk to police officers, firefighters — to get them to come to the school and make connections with kids and become involved in our school as mentors,” says Sawyer. “And over the past few years, we’ve seen a surge in math, but not language arts, so we married the two together — literacy and getting men in the classroom.”

She says the dads come in before work and spend the majority of an hour reading to the children, or having the children read to them.

Some classrooms can have up to 10 men, and they’ll read with two to three kids,” says Sawyer…. http://www.educationnation.com/index.cfm?objectid=9618C886-881A-11E2-93ED000C296BA163&aka=0

The Role of a Father

A 2001 study of the impact of a father’s involvement in the life of their child reached the following conclusions:

It appears that fathers contribute to the lives of their children by assuming diverse roles appropriate to their children’s progression through the life cycle. However, much of the available research is based on small observational studies or cross-sectional data, and in fact,relatively few studies have linked father involvement with outcomes among infants and toddlers.

There is a need for new longitudinal research that follows infants through the school years and includes fathers’ multiple domains of influence.

As Lamb (1997a) points out, fathers should be studied in the larger familial context. A father’s relationship with his partner, and other children, as well as how he views himself and his multiple familial and societal roles all affect his parenting style and parent-child interactions.beneficial effects of father involvement on children stem from supportive and nurturant father-child relationships. Continued large-scale research on resident father involvement shouldinclude items spanning multiple domains of paternal influence in addition to items that capture family and social contexts.

Measuring Father Involvement did not have definite conclusions about the importance of a father’s involvement because of the lack of longitudinal or long range study of the father/child relationship, but it hinted at the importance of the relationship.

Some of the key findings from this review of incentives and barriers to father involvementinclude the following:

· Believing that a father’s role is important to child development and perceiving oneself as

competent in the fathering role both serve as incentives to father involvement. 

· Wanting the child and desiring to become a father may also be associated with father involvement. 

· A man’s recollections of his own father-child experiences from childhood could serve either as barriers or incentives to involvement. 

· Egalitarian beliefs may lead to more father-child interactions in general, and more beneficial father-child interactions for girls in particular. 

· The father’s psychological well-being serves as a moderator of father involvement. High levels of stress and depression create barriers for father involvement, whereas high self-esteem increases the likelihood of father involvement. 

· Early fatherhood appears to be a barrier to father involvement. On-time fatherhood (i.e., becoming a father in one’s 20’s) increases the amount of father involvement above that of teen parents, but delaying fatherhood until one’s 30’s or even the 40’s may also yield benefits for children in increased father-child contact and more affectionate and cognitively-stimulating interactions. 

· A harmonious father-mother relationship enhances the likelihood of frequent and positive father child interactions within two-parent families. Conversely, marital conflict serves both as a barrier to father involvement and as a predictor of poor child outcomes. In situations where the father does not reside with the child, father involvement is more likely if the mother perceives the father to be capable of successfully fulfilling the provider role. 

· Being employed, and experiencing job satisfaction and low role stress are all associated with higher levels of father involvement. Conversely, unemployment or job instability, as well as high role stress, serve to minimize the likelihood that fathers will be and/or stay involved in their children’s lives. 

· Additional support from friends, extended family, and institutions may help bolster father involvement in young children’s lives. In addition, certain characteristics of the child may either increase or decrease the extent of                        father involvement. 

The key finding from this study is that the involvement of a father in the life of his children is a process and a complex one, at that.

Male Role Models in Schools

A working paper, Teachers and the Gender Gap, from NBER reported the following.

Dee finds that gender interactions between teachers and students have significant effects on these important educational outcomes. Assignment to a teacher of the opposite sex lowers student achievement by about 0.04 standard deviations. Other results imply that just “one year with a male English teacher would eliminate nearly a third of the gender gap in reading performance among 13 year olds…and would do so by improving the performance of boys and simultaneously harming that of girls. Similarly, a year with a female teacher would close the gender gap in science achievement among 13 year olds by half and eliminate entirely the smaller achievement gap in mathematics.”

Female science teachers appeared to reduce the probability that a girl would be seen as inattentive in science, though this had no discernable effect on girls’ science achievement. However, female history teachers significantly raised girls’ history achievement. And, boys were more likely to report that they did not look forward to a particular academic subject when it was taught by a female.

Overall, the data suggest that, “a large fraction of boys’ dramatic underperformance in reading reflects the classroom dynamics associated with the fact that their reading teachers are overwhelmingly female.” According to the U.S. Department of Education’s 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey, 91 percent of the nation’s sixth grade reading teachers, and 83 percent of eighth grade reading teachers are female. This depresses boys’ achievement. The fact that most middle school teachers of math, science, and history are also female may raise girls’ achievement. In short, the current gender imbalance in middle school staffing may be reducing the gender gap in science by helping girls but exacerbating the gender gap in reading by handicapping boys. 

The purpose of this comment is not that boys and girls cannot learn from teachers of either sex. The point is too many children are being raised in single parent homes and they need good role models of both sexes to develop. That brings me back to Will Thomas and The Washington Post story. Mr. Thomas is not only a good teacher, but a positive role model for both his boy and girl students. We need more teachers like Mr. Thomas.

Moi has never met an illegitimate child, she has met plenty of illegitimate parents. People that are so ill-prepared for the parent role that had they been made responsible for an animal, PETA would picket their house. We are at a point in society where we have to say don’t have children you can’t care for. There is no quick, nor easy fix for the children who start behind in life because they are the product of two other people’s choice, whether an informed choice or not.  All parents should seek positive role models for their children. For single mothers who are parenting boys, they must seek positive male role models to be a part of their son’s life. Boys and girls of all ages should think before they procreate and men should give some thought about what it means to be a father before they become baby daddy.

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