CALLING ALL fathers, it's that time of the year again.

As part of the 2012 National Million Father March, men across the country are asked to walk their children to school for the first day of class Friday and again on Monday as part of an effort to encourage fathers to get involved in their children's lives.

"You can no longer afford to let our children be less than their best," march coordinator David Fattah, of the House of Umoja, said during a news conference at City Hall. "When men are involved in their child's education, they do better, act better and they're on time."

Philadelphia is one of 800 cities participating in the National Million Father March, which started in 2004 and is the brainchild of Phillip Jackson, the founder and executive director of the Black Star Project, an organization based in Chicago. Philadelphia held its first march in 2007.

Fattah's grandson, Anthony Bannister Fattah, 38, who has three children, remembers having butterflies in his stomach as a child on his first day of class.

"It's important for children to have their fathers there for support," he said. "It reassures my children they have someone there on their side."

The goal is to lower the dropout rate, improve the quality of education and encourage children to excel. The march starts at 7 a.m. Friday and Monday at the House of Umoja at 5625 Master St.

Contact Jan Ransom at or 215-854-5218. Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom. Read her blog at