Jenna Bush Hager stops in SETX to talk school choice

Published 12:26 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

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Jenna Bush Hager knows a thing or two about success. The journalist and author who appears on “Today with Hoda and Jenna” and is editor-at-large for Southern Living achieved it, having also witnessed it in her father and grandfather.

“I happen to be born with a father that went on to be president of the United States,” she said Friday at Bob Hope Elementary School in Port Arthur. “Who would have ever thought it, but I was, which gave us amazing opportunities to see the country and to see the world. And what I’ve realized is — no matter if it’s in Texas, in D.C., in Baltimore, in Latin America — all parents want the same things for their kids, which is the opportunity to grow up and be healthy, happy, successful contributors.”

Hager was the keynote speaker Friday morning for Boots and BBQ, which celebrated school choice during National School Choice Week.

Hager previously served as a reading teacher at a charter school in Baltimore.

“I know what it’s like to work in those schools. I know what it’s like to give my kids those choices — and by my kids I mean my students,” she said. “Now I have three children of my own. But to give that choice — we don’t want a country where you’re born predicts your outcome.”

Hager and her twin sister, Barbara Bush, “grew up going to every type of school there was.”

Born in Midland before moving to Washington D.C., they began kindergarten and first grade at a public elementary school. They also attended public school in Dallas. In sixth grade, they went to an all-girls private school before moving to Austin and enrolling in a co-ed Episcopal school. Hager graduated from a public high school in Austin.

“I think being in a school like this and telling the story of these successful schools should be all of our priorities,” she said. “Because I think if you don’t know the benefits of having charter schools around the country, you wouldn’t know how great it is. I hope you all will continue telling the stories of schools like this one.”

Hager also spoke on the importance of education, referencing her maternal grandmother, “who people don’t know as much because there’s no elementary school named after her, or airport for that matter,” she joked. “She never graduated from college. But, she was a lifelong learner. She took classes at Midland Community College until she couldn’t drive anymore in her 90s.

“I often think about her as a reader. She lived in Midland her whole life. She never traveled…probably the way she would have wanted to. But she got to travel by reading about all of these places that are magical and interesting.”

— Written by Monique Batson