Obamas Choose Sidwell Friends School for Daughters

Sasha and Malia Obama will attend prestigious private school in Washington.

November 12, 2008, 7:06 AM

Nov. 21, 2008 — -- President-elect Barack Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, will attend Chelsea Clinton's alma mater, Sidwell Friends School, after the familiy moves into the White House in January.

For the Obamas, like other first families, deciding whether daghters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, would attend a public or private school became something of a major policy decision.

"A number of great schools were considered," said Obama aide Katie McCormick Lelyveld. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."

The Clintons also chose the highly competitive, private Sidwell Friends School for 13-year-old Chelsea. She flourished there, academically, but was seldom seen. It's also the institution Joe Biden's grandchildren attend.

"As the first family, you are going to want to work with the school the children attend to ensure that the school protects the children's privacy," said former Clinton White House press secretary Lisa Caputo.

Currently, the youngest Obamas attend the prestigious, private University of Chicago Lab School, and their educational options in Washington include a bevy of high-status schools seeking to woo the first family and get the girls in their classrooms.

Michelle Obama, who had said deciding on the girls' school was her first priority, according to People magazine, looked at a number of area schools.

Some wondered whether Malia and Sasha would end up in one of the city's public schools. It's a route President Carter and wife Rosalynn chose for their 9-year-old daughter Amy when they lived in the White House. Amy arrived on her first day with a Snoopy book bag to a throng of photographers.

But today, Washington's struggling public school system makes that option less likely.

"In terms of achievement rates, drop-out rates, scores, they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel," Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews said of the city's public schools.

The Obamas also could take cues from past first families. When the young Kennedy clan lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Jackie Kennedy brought school to her children.

"Jackie Kennedy had a little nursery school in the White House, and, my God, you would think it was the A-list party," said Sally Quinn, of the Washington Post. "Everybody wanted their children to be part of that."

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