Late last month I saw a news story about the Dads on Duty in Shreveport, Louisiana. The video is only a couple of minutes long, and it is absolutely worth the watch.

In summary, after multiple days of fighting (23 students were arrested) a group of about 40 dads decided to get involved. They take shifts going to the school and bringing positive energy, while also monitoring the hallways and making sure students are staying out of trouble. There hasn’t been an incident since they got involved. The Dads on Duty have helped completely transform the school in more ways than one.

First of all, I think that we need more stories like this in our lives. It’s easy to get caught up in the bad news that often surrounds us. We forget that there are so many good people in our world who genuinely want to make it a better place. There is a bigger point to make with Dads on Duty too. Look at all of the positives that came from major parental involvement at Southwood High School. They went from a near catastrophic situation to the one now being reported.

In my opinion, this is a two-way street. When I visit some of our lowest performing school districts in the state one of the first things I almost always hear from the teachers and administrators is their desire for more parental involvement in the school. We absolutely need that everywhere, not just at our low performing districts. It’s not difficult and I don’t think it’s a lot to ask of parents everywhere to be involved in their child’s education.

Conversely, our schools need to be willing to engage and accept parental involvement when it happens, not turn it away. Far too often we hear stories about parents who are being absolutely stone-walled by their district. I’ve written extensively about this before. I think our schools in general need to do a better job of accepting engagement and involvement from our families. The positive outcomes far outweigh any negatives. There’s a great quote in the story from Michael LaFitte. “We’re dads. We decided the best people who can take care of our kids are who? Are us.”

Imagine if Southwood High School’s administration declined help from the Dads on Duty. What would’ve happened at Southwood if the Dads on Duty hadn’t come to help? It would have been really easy for the leadership at Southwood to be too “proud” and decline help when it was offered. It may have been difficult for those in charge to accept the fact that they needed assistance. But look at what happened when they made that decision, and I think we can all learn from that.

I constantly say that strong families are the bedrock of our society, and this proves it. Strong families come in many different shapes and sizes though. The Dads on Duty say as much during the interview. Unfortunately, there are children who don’t have a father in their life. That doesn’t mean that someone else can’t fill that void. If you can’t tell, I am a huge fan of the Dads on Duty. They are planning to keep going to Southwood indefinitely, and they have ambitions to grow. I hope that they can expand what they do not just throughout Louisiana, but throughout the county. We could all use the Dads on Duty in our communities.

The CBS story is linked at the beginning of this article, or can be found here.

As always I appreciate hearing your perspective on this and other issues presented in my weekly column. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.

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