Kagan: My Mother Was a Tough Teacher

By Mark Walsh — June 29, 2010 1 min read
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U.S. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan said this morning that she and her brothers were surprised at her mother’s funeral a couple of years ago when hundreds of people they didn’t know showed up.

“My brothers and I expected a small funeral” for their mother, Gloria, Kagan said at the beginning of the second day of her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Instead, just tons and tons of people showed up, and we couldn’t figure out who they were. They were people who had my mother as a 6th grade teacher decades ago.”

Gloria Kagan taught for more than 20 years at Hunter College Elementary School in New York City. She retired in 1991 and died in 2008.

“She was really demanding,” Elena Kagan said of her mother today, in response to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about the influence of her parents. “She was a really tough teacher. You didn’t slide by in Mrs. Kagan’s class. She got the most out of people.”

“Part of my life is my father, and part of my life is my mother,” Kagan said. Her father, Irving, a tenants’ rights lawyer in New York, died in 1994.

A version of this news article first appeared in The School Law Blog.