As a father, I believe that actively learning about our children’s education is critical. Children spend 7-8 hours a day, 35-40 hours a week, interacting with and being influenced by people with whom their parents barely have any contact. Many parents have limited opportunities for parental involvement at school and have to rely on second hand information to learn about their children’s educational experiences. I often found myself wondering: Is this enough?
Recently, Governor Quinn answered my question with a solid “No.” He signed the “Bring Your Parents to School Day” law for Illinois students, which allows school boards to designate the first Monday of October as a day in which parents and guardians can attend classes with their children, allowing the adults to participate in daily classroom activities, observe their child interacting authentically with peers and teachers, and understand any challenges the student may be facing. I applaud our governor’s decision to sign this significant bill into law. A complete version of House Bill 129 may be found on the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood (ICRF) website (www.responsiblefatherhood.illinois.gov), along with other important information and resources for dads.
Although it is essential for all parents and guardians to take part in their children’s education, father participation is particularly necessary. ICRF encourages fathers to volunteer at schools throughout the year and to take their children to school for the first week, showing the child that his or her father values education. Fatherhood involvement is likely to deter gang recruitment and other negative influences.
Governor Quinn has previously shown his support of fathers in Illinois by signing 4 Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood bills into law, and has committed to improving family relationships in a time when the rise of technology, divorce, and long work hours are eroding the quality time we spend with our families.
Taking the first step toward becoming more involved at their children’s schools can sometimes be intimidating for fathers who have not previously done so. The “Bring Your Parents to School Day” law will create the opportunity for fathers to feel more comfortable being a continuous presence in their children’s classrooms. This law can specifically benefit divorced dads and moms, many of whom already experience reduced quality time with their children.
Governor Quinn’s signing of this law marks an important legislative milestone supporting children and families, by allowing for more active participation by parents in their children’s education. Ideally, all states should follow Governor Quinn’s example by taking critical steps toward including parents -- especially fathers -- in their children’s academic lives, ultimately improving the health, happiness, and education of our future generations.