The Added Advantage In African American Children's Education - Computer Homeschooling (Part 4)

Thursday, 2 August 2012
Parents and friends in our third article we championed using computers to homeschool African American children and prepare them for a future where computers will have an impact on every part of our society. In the final part 4 article we will complete the series by stressing the importance of making sure your computers and broadband Internet connection is secure from the daily attack of hackers, viruses and thieves.. oh my!

Lions, tigers and bears in digital form are being unleashed on the Internet daily, if not almost hourly. Now most parents would get the idea that if it's that bad then why use the Internet at all. If you take a closer look at the educational environment today, there are lions, tigers and bears already out there in public and private schools waiting to take advantage of our African American children each and everyday. It's almost become a challenge to just stay alive, let alone avoid drugs, teen pregnancy and other ills.
The difference between the two learning arenas is that while they are at home learning you have more control protecting them and more tools to defend against whatever comes their way. It's far better to have a daily defense for your African American children's learning, then to wonder what's going on at their school.

Now, let's get to looking at viruses (lions), hackers (tigers) and thieves (bears) to keep out of your computer and your home. Virus software is as important to your computer and the network it's connected to as proper nutrition is to your children. Both help to defend against having a healthy computer/child becoming sick or worse.

Make sure your virus software is up-to-date and that your computer's operating system is updated constantly. Run your virus software daily, yes daily and check for updates daily to make sure the software has the latest tools to protect your computer. Viruses, worms and other bad software code is being released near hourly at times, so running your virus software everyday and keeping it updated is a must. Teach your children about viruses and what to do to keep your computers safe and virus free.

Remember this subject is worthy of more than just one article and therefore is covered in a 4 part series.

Parents take advantage of our 5-day email course on wireless technology - email us for more info...

Daviyd Peterson: 10-year consultant, instructor, trainer of digital divide solutions for home and business. He helps African American and minority homeschools bridge the digital divide by becoming computer homeschools. Supporting homeschool moms and dads with resources to provide income for their homeschool...


New Film Delves Into Children's Education In Steel Town

The topic of school education was spotlighted two years ago in a great documentary, "Waiting for Superman". Even before that, some great films about school and teachers came out, cases in point being "Stand And Deliver" and "Lean On Me", as well as "To Sir With Love" and "Blackboard Jungle". But a new film chronicles a school needing change badly.

Inspired by true events, "Won't Back Down" (PG), tells the tale of Adams Elementary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It seems that this school doesn't quite care enough about the students, but more about the teachers getting their benefits. One teacher though does care enough about educating kids better. Meet Nora Alberts (Viola Davis), who had shown passion for teaching until the system began to deprive her energy. She also has a young man who is having trouble with math skills, as well as a destroyed marriage.

Nora meets up with a single mother, Jamie Fitzpatrick (Maggie Gyllenhaal) whose daughter attends Adams and has a dyslexic problem that her teacher doesn't understand. Attempts to talk to the principal are to no avail, thus she and Nora team up to try to fix the problem.
But they have to battle with the other teachers as well as bureaucratic policies to turn the school towards the right direction. Nora and Jamie manage to collect signatures going door to door, making for one great sequence using visual effects as the pair go from one floor to another in their attempts to obtain votes to help out.

Meantime the other teachers, which include an energetic music teacher (Oscar Issac) who does fall for Jamie; Nora's fellow teacher and friend Breena (Rosie Perez); and a very snooty teacher named Deborah (Nancy Bach) who is only concerned with getting her tenure, are scared of losing their jobs and benefits.

Finally Jamie gets in contact with the head Union official, Evelyn Riske (Holly Hunter). Evelyn tells Jamie she is fighting a losing battle, yet believes the children should be educated better than they are. Nora then approaches Olivia Perez (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), an administrator who goes by the rules but does like Nora's ideas to help the school.

It comes down to the finale, taking place at the school board with the Union members pitting against Nora, Jamie and the concerned parents who want a change for the better..

Daniel Barnz co-wrote the script and directed the film which gets the viewer involved with the story and the two leads. It is an important issue we face today as we want to have children be better educated so they can go on to have fine lives. While it is intended well, I felt that there should have been a little more meat to the story and how it strongly affects the kids.

The film does concentrate heavily on Jamie and Nora who have a common goal and have good chemistry joining forces. But I wished that some of the supporting characters were better fleshed out and not shallow like they are portrayed.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is very good as the single mother of the dyslexic child, but she also has a secret of her own that is revealed during the board meeting. She comes off as a caring person trying to balance her life having two jobs and making sure that her kid gets the education she needs.

Viola Davis is so good, turning another worthy performance of a woman who have been beaten by the current system but is ready to fight back and make her workplace shine better. She really is an inspiration here, showing grace while being wounded in life.

While it was good to see Rosie Perez again, her role is one-dimensional but does make the best of it. Oscar Issac seems charming enough and does have good chemistry with Gyllenhall, but his character doesn't have enough to do. Holly Hunter and Marrianne Jean-Baptiste do journeyman work in their roles yet the script should gave them a little more to do.

The cinematography of Ronan Osin does get the essence of the Pittsburgh streets nicely while Marcos Zarvos' score is amiable. The editing should have been a little bit tighter but that one scene of Nora and Jamie going door to door was a marvel to view.
This movie took me back to my elementary school days and looking back at that I feel that most teachers were older and didn't want to retire. I had a very bad 5th grade teacher who always wanted to use me as a whipping post. I was mostly at the wrong place at the wrong time, thus I was unjustly punished. And yes she was old; I felt like she was just collecting her paycheck and not caring for any of the kids unlike my 4th and 6th grade teachers who were young at the time and concerned.

I felt strongly that if I had the chance to do it, I would either go to a private school or be homeschooled. It seems this day and age most kids have taken that road and for the most part are successful.

"Won't Back Down" is a likable try to make the viewer understand about how schools are operated today. But I wish the film would have been given a stronger case than it does. Nonetheless I do recommend it somewhat for the performances of Gyllenhall and Davis, as well as making a good conversation point after viewing.