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Editorial: From the Edge

 by Megan Irwin
 published on Thursday, February 9, 2006


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When I was 13, my parents both decided to quit their jobs and go back to school to become teachers. This is not something you do in your early 40s when you have three kids, unless you feel very passionately that you are called to do so.

We lived off their student loans and federal Pell Grants for the next four years (give or take), which is not a fun thing to do when you're in high school and really wish your parents would buy you a car for your birthday.

My parents' simultaneous decisions to further their education made life in the Irwin household difficult. But now that I'm older, with a tiny bit more perspective, I'm very proud of what they did.

It takes guts to be a teacher no matter what age you are. Now that they're both fully integrated into their careers -- my mom as a fourth-grade teacher, my father as a high school guidance counselor -- their passion is still there, but so is a great deal of frustration.

Almost every time I talk to my parents I hear about how there isn't enough money for supplies and how scary it is that teachers now mold their instruction to fit standardized tests rather than to facilitate learning. How worried they are about the students who need extra help but have no resources and how hard it is to watch these kids struggle.

The teachers in this week's cover story ("Teaching America," page 8) are all recent graduates of ASU's College of Education and are starting to face the same disillusionment my parents did.

Still, they get up everyday and go and do their jobs -- sometimes acting as parents to the kids they're there to educate -- always struggling to make the best out of their limited resources.

Why do they do it? The same reason my parents do: passion.



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