Laura Bush calls on military retirees to consider teaching

The Associated Press
Sunday March 25, 2001

SAN DIEGO — With the nation’s schools facing a shortage of teachers, first lady Laura Bush urged retiring military personnel Friday to consider a new career in teaching. 

“Men and women of the United States military, you answered the call to serve your country,” she said. “As you prepare to leave the military, we ask you to turn your attention to the homefront, to Uncle Sam’s classrooms, where we need your service as teachers.” 

Bush endorsed a 7-year-old program, “Troops to Teachers,” which helps retiring military personnel obtain their teaching certificates and find jobs. 

The government plans to increase funding for the program from $3 million to $30 million, said Bush, who spoke to Navy personnel on a pier along the San Diego waterfront. 

The appearance, which included Troops to Teachers participants and their students, wrapped up a two-day tour of Southern California. On Thursday, Bush, a former school librarian and second grade teacher, visited an elementary school in Los Angeles and urged students at a college to embrace teaching as a career. 

The Census Bureau reported Friday that a record 49 million students are in the nation’s schools, the largest since 1971. The Education Department says that number is expected to grow to 53.5 million by 2005. 

At the same time, a generation of teachers who began their careers in the 1960s and 1970s are approaching retirement. 

Bush said teachers are especially wanted in the inner city and rural districts. Those with backgrounds in math, science and engineering are “desperately needed.” 

She praised military veterans as having the ideal training and experience for teaching: an ability to overcome challenges, set goals and achieve results. 

“You’re tremendous role models, with a sense of duty, honor and country that our children need to emulate,” she said. 

Nearly 4,000 people have participated in the Troops to Teachers program since it was formed in 1994, in the midst of the nation’s military downsizing. 



Participants have an average age of 41, with 85 percent of them men and 33 percent ethnic or racial minorities.