Spring Newsletter 2011

April 7, 2011

The end of the school year is soon upon us, how fast the year has gone! However, this is the time of the year when TAKS tests are being given, and decisions are being made for summer classes. Our tutors are available to carry your son or daughter through the year as well as to tutor during the summer months. In addition, Four Points Tutoring will be offering a series of very excellent writing workshops this summer for middle and high school students. Read the descriptions below and mark your calendars for these summer opportunities! Each workshop will be presented by Justine Tal Goldberg, professional writer and editor.

Summer Writing Clinics

Creative Writing Workshop for Middle School and High School Students:
June 2011
If your son or daughter has a knack for creative writing, this is the workshop for you. This interactive seminar educates
students on the short story form, trains them in the necessary elements of craft such as plot, characterization, dialogue, setting, and point of view, and provides the opportunity to share their work with the group and receive constructive feedback from their peers. Students will leave the workshop with an original short story, useful information on how to pursue their literary dreams, and a group of new friends who love to write as much as they do.
How to Write a Stellar College Essay for High School Juniors and Seniors
July, 2011
College applications are at an all-time high, and the rate of acceptance is decreasing. With so much competition, it’s imperative that high school juniors and seniors with their sights set on higher education acquire the tools necessary to write a college essay that will turn heads. In this discussion-based seminar, students learn the five characteristics of a
stellar college essay, brainstorm essay topics, and help each other to develop these topics into prose that sings. Students will leave the workshop with at least one fully outlined essay, and step-by-step instructions for how to proceed on the path to essay-writing success.
Writing for the SATs for High School Juniors and Seniors
August, 2011
Performing on standardized tests is as much about understanding the test as it is about the knowledge you bring to it. Join us for an in-depth look at what the SAT writing section is all about, and what the scoring board looks for in a successful essay. Students get hands-on practice in writing essays that meet the test’s criteria, and learn from their peers’
successes as they share their attempts with the group. Students will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the test itself, a toolbox full of tips and tricks for mastering the writing section, and the confidence to tackle any
essay topic they might encounter.
About Justine Tal Goldberg
Justine Tal Goldberg is a professional writer and editor of both fiction and non-fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Whiskey Island and Fringe Magazine, among others; her journalistic work has appeared or is forthcoming in such local
publications as Austin Monthly and the Texas Observer. She holds a M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston, and has provided writing instruction at Emerson College and Vassar College. Currently, she owns and operates WriteByNight, LLC, a writing center and writers’ service in Austin (www.writebynight.net).

Education in the movies -The Race to Nowhere

There has been much debate about how much to push students and the compromises we make when we choose to or not to.  Are we preparing our students to become successful leaders or robbing children of their childhood and creating disheartened youth.  If you are a parent or educator this is a film that you don’t want to miss!

Race to Nowhere according to Vicki H. Abeles the films director the film features the heartbreaking stories of young people across the country who have been pushed to the brink, educators who are burned out and worried that students aren’t developing the skills they need, and parents who are trying to do what’s best for their kids, Race to Nowhere points to the silent epidemic in our schools: cheating has become commonplace, students have become disengaged, stress-related illness, depression and burnout are rampant, and young people arrive at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired. Race to Nowhere is a call to mobilize families, educators, and policy makers to challenge current assumptions on how to best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.In a grassroots sensation already feeding a groundswell for change, hundreds of theaters, schools and organizations nationwide are hosting community screenings during a six month campaign to screen the film nationwide. Tens of thousands of people are coming together, using the film as the centerpiece for raising awareness, radically changing the national dialogue on education and galvanizing change.

Book of the month – Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

The recent parenting book that caught the attention of many Western parents, “Tiger Mother” raises the issues of lax Western parenting v.s. the high standards of Eastern parenting. In a Wall Street Journal essay, a “Today” Show appearance, and a now best-selling book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” Chau argues that Chinese mothers work their kids harder, expect more out of them and are generally rewarded with offspring that excel in school, careers and life. Western parents who worry whether “learning is fun” and fret over damaging their children’s self esteem, Chau says, are really just damaging their children’s chances for success. “Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough,” she wrote in the Journal. “That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child.” Chua knows a thing or two about achieving. She is herself a graduate of Harvard Law who teaches at Yale and has two previous books under her belt. She’s also quick to point out that she’s not all strict; successful children are also lavishly praised and rewarded. Chua says the book is more self-deprecating and even- handed then her controversial article. Still, Chua has taken heat from all corners: angry moms, huffing talking heads, and of course, many of those “lax” parents she berated. Maybe some of them weren’t so lax after all.

Order here

Thoughts on Budget Cuts in Education:

Everyone who has children or is involved in some way with education is aware of the crisis facing our public schools in Texas. The Texas House plans to cut $100 million in funding for Austin schools. When we consider the entire state of Texas, it is estimated that cuts in public education over the next two years could reach $10 billion. While cuts in budgets are necessary, cutting money for our schools could have a drastic impact on our children’s education. Quality in education should be a foundational value in our state. Our future depends on the quality of education we give to our children today. Texas ranks 37th in the country in terms of expenditures on per-pupil instruction. Making budgetary cuts can only worsen an already compromised system.Legislators need to exhaust all possible sources of revenue before making cuts in education. Parents and citizens need to do what is necessary to “press” our lawmakers to do the right thing by our children and that is to not compromise quality education in our state.
What can we do?
  • Write a letter to your state representative
    to encourage them to keep education a priority in our state. Find out who represents you by going to
  • Write a letter to the editor expressing
    your concerns.
  • Be informed. Vote for candidates who are
    advocates of quality education.
  • Become involved in your local school
  • Work closely with your children’s teachers to
    give the best support we can to our children.
The 8.4 million school children in our state deserve
the best we can possibly give them.

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