Oprah: What are some of your favorite mother moments?
Laura: Reading with them was always a favorite moment. And when they were infants, we would put them in bed with us in the mornings and George and I would each hold one of them. I love those memories.
Oprah: Were you the kind of mom who took your children to school?
Laura: Yes, both George and I drove carpool. I also worked in their school library and was always on the PTA.
Oprah: Was your house the one their friends always ended up coming to?
Laura: Yes, I think it was fun for people to come to the Governor's Mansion. One thing that's slightly sad for me now is that my girls don't have friends in Washington, D.C., because they didn't grow up here. And during their summer vacation, they'll of course want to go where their friends are. The other day I told one of them, "You're really going to hurt my feelings if you don't ever come visit us at the White House."
Oprah: Who's the disciplinarian in the family—you or the president?
Laura: Both of us are. Because there are two of them, they could really work us when they were smaller. Whatever one couldn't think of, the other one could.
Oprah: I know that you want to get the country more interested in education. How do you plan to do that?
Laura: First by talking about it a lot, which I did recently at a new program called D.C. Teaching Fellows. We hope to attract 100 professionals—both young people and midcareer professionals who want to be teachers. Those who are selected will attend intensive summer training, and they can get stipends that allow them to earn a master's as they teach. Mature midcareer people have a lot to offer our students. They're often experts in a subject.
Another program is Troops for Teachers. It encourages those who retire from the military to choose a career in education. And then there's the Teach for America program. Recent college graduates can teach for two to five years, then decide whether they want to continue—which a lot of them do.
Oprah: Why is there such a shortage of teachers?
Laura: At one point in our country's history, high-achieving women usually chose teaching as a career. Now high-achieving women can choose anything.
Oprah: My father always told me I was going to be a teacher. In my day, most women aspired to be either teachers or nurses.
Laura: When I was in the second grade, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I think good teachers are called to teaching.
We Hear You!