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An Apple for Miss Jenna? Bush Eyes Washington Teaching Job

By Richard Leiby
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; Page C01

First daughter Jenna Bush, who put her career plans on hold while campaigning to reelect her father, has decided to live in Washington and plans to teach at a District public school that serves low-income children. The White House would not release details yesterday, but we've learned that she has applied to teach at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in the Mount Pleasant/Columbia Heights neighborhood.

The school's founder and executive director, Linda Moore, wouldn't confirm Bush's employment, saying: "We don't discuss the relationship between a prospective employee and the school until we have a formal agreement. This is not something I'm at liberty to discuss."

Jenna Bush has applied to teach at a charter school. (Susan Walsh - AP File Photo)

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Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for first lady Laura Bush, yesterday would say only that Jenna "will live in Washington and will go to work at a public school."

The Elsie Whitlow Stokes school has 250 pupils enrolled in kindergarten through sixth grade, features immersion classes in Spanish and French, and emphasizes community service. Its children, who are largely Hispanic and African American, visit soup kitchens and participate in an annual walk for the homeless.

"They learn who's homeless in this country and who's hungry in the world," Moore told us. "We emphasize preparation for citizenship. We emphasize increasing students' knowledge of other cultures. We are preparing them to be leaders in the community."

Jenna, 22, holds a degree in English from the University of Texas. She has talked publicly of her desire to teach at a charter school, while sister Barbara wants to work with children who have AIDS in Eastern Europe and Africa.

News reports last summer focused on Jenna's interest in a public school in Harlem, but she deferred a decision until after the campaign. Visiting a summer reading program for second-graders in Alabama in July, Jenna helped her mother read to the children and talked with them about her plan to become a fourth-grade teacher.

The immediate career course for Barbara, a Yale humanities grad, is unknown. In September, a spokeswoman for the twins told the Los Angeles Times that Barbara's plans were "a little nebulous."

The twins are frequently seen at Georgetown bars with a loyal coterie of friends. One friend told us the sisters intend to lease a townhouse in Georgetown, but the White House said it had no information on their future living arrangements.

Moore founded the Whitlow school seven years ago and named it after her mother, who taught first grade in Arkansas for 36 years. "She's the role model for what we do here," Moore said. "She was not famous. She was notable as an excellent teacher."

She said 90 percent of the pupils come from low-income homes. About 48 percent are African American or Afro-Caribbean and 48 percent are Latino. Many speak English as a second language.

Asked when a new teacher could join the faculty, Moore said, "Anytime."

Talk Radio Host to Michael Moore: Show Me the Money

• In its campaign to raise money for wounded troops, radio station WMAL-AM wants liberal firebrand Michael Moore to kick in some proceeds from his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" and new book, "Will They Ever Trust Us Again," a collection of letters from military personnel who served in Iraq. In the past few weeks, the station has raised $760,000 for Fisher House, which assists wounded vets and their families. Now, talk-show host Michael Graham -- who calls himself "a confirmed right-winger" -- is asking Moore to join the cause.

"America's soldiers have been very good to you," Graham wrote to the filmmaker last week, noting that "the most powerful scenes" in Moore's hit documentary feature the Iraq war's toll on troops and their loved ones. "Therefore, I am writing to challenge you to give back just a small portion of the money you have earned as a critic of their mission."

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