Chicago Tribune: Mike Campbell has two teenage daughters--daughters who dance.
Volunteering with the local booster group or sports club wouldn't help his girls, so the 46-year-old Libertyville man ventured where few fathers go: He joined the school's equivalent of the PTA.
"It's mostly, as you would expect, a bunch of moms who are tireless workers in there, volunteering. Just amazing," said Campbell, who was elected president of the Libertyville High School Parent CATS for the coming year.
Although the vast majority of PTA members are women, fathers like Campbell are increasingly stepping in, shaking up an entrenched division of labor that created generations of "room moms" and "sports dads."
The country's Parent Teacher Association, which was conceived as the National Congress of Mothers more than a century ago, will be led by a dad for the first time starting this summer, when Charles Saylors steps in as president.
Ten percent of the group's 5.5 million members are fathers, up from 3 percent five years ago. A father of four from South Carolina, Saylors has made recruiting dads one of his primary goals.
"Half the parents in the world are men. Let's talk about this, guys," Saylors said. "The PTA shouldn't be left to just one parent. It should be a family activity."
His appointment will come a year after Byron Garrett was named the first male chief executive of the Chicago-based organization.
The group launched an initiative called Men Organized to Raise Engagement in June 2008. Meanwhile, many Chicago-area schools have been working to enlist more male volunteers.
Ashburn Elementary School in Chicago campaigned to bring fathers into school three years ago. Today, 5 of the 11 local school council members are men. Although just one dad joined the PTA, men are a common sight in the classrooms and hallways of the South Side school, said Principal Jewel Diaz.
"It's just become like a snowball effect. We have, on a regular basis, lots of fathers just coming up and making sure they have a presence. That's all we need," Diaz said.
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