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Update: Obama School Search Heats Up With Girls' Visit

Malia, Michelle and Sasha Obama at the Democratic convention. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

The Obama school search is heating up: Malia, Sasha and their mom, Michelle, spent two hours yesterday morning with their mom touring Georgetown Day School, and are expected to visit the Sidwell Friends campus today. The family look-sees follow Michelle Obama's trips to the schools last week, which sparked intense debate about D.C.'s public and private education. Looks more and more like the first daughters will attend a private school; no word if the family will drop by Maret -- reportedly still in the running -- later in the week.

By The Reliable Source  |  November 17, 2008; 6:45 PM ET
Categories:  First Family  
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While it be wonderful to have the children attend public school, it may not be practical due to the security needs of the children and the impact on the school these extra measures would make. Then there is the issue of cost for all of this extra level of security.

It is likely a safer situation to be in a school very used to high profile children with high profile parents.

Too bad the media and terrorists will not give the girls the luxury to enjoy their new place on Pennsylvania Ave.

It was never a problem in the 50's and 60's growing up with children of famous parents (Sam Rayburn, etc.) No police, no photographers, just a normal high school in suburbia. Too bad that era has been replaced by a far too negative an audience.

Posted by: akousen | November 17, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

There are now and always have been first class DC Public Elementary Schools. I went to one. There are many teachers who are dedicated, smart and caring. Security might be an issue on the secondary level but it is hard to justify security reasons to avoid public elementary school.
Amy Carter attended DC public shools and so did Obama's best bud Warren (Buffet doncha know). It is a slap in the face to the people of DC who are working so hard for the school system if Obama sends his kids to Maret or GDS or Cathedral or some other exclusive school, but it is not surprising given how what a phoney "man of the people" Obama is.

Posted by: ophelia3 | November 17, 2008 8:17 PM | Report abuse

go kick rocks ophelia3

makes all the sense in the world to send the kids to private school. children of the first black president they can become a target. same with a private school but I'm inclined to believe security would be better.

still amusing to see that there are haters of OBAMA who will criticize everything he does. Your opinion is irrelevant as of now. OBAMA won and that's that.

Posted by: llewis40 | November 17, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

It is a slap in the face to the people of DC who are working so hard for the school system if Obama sends his kids to Maret or GDS or Cathedral or some other exclusive school, but it is not surprising given how what a phoney "man of the people" Obama is.

This is an absurd comment. DC schools are not uniformly good and everyone knows it --most parents agonize over sending their children to public schools in the district, even at the grammar school level.

Security certainly is an issue and only someone predisposed to attack Obama would say it is a slap in the face of citizens for a President and First Lady to send their children to a private school.

Are you envious of their ability to make this choice or simply partisan?

If you are this pissy about the choice of school, you are in for a bumpy ride for at least 4 years!

Posted by: ponderer | November 17, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Could someone, anyone, please explain this whole "security is better in a private school" trope? How is it easier to secure a multi-acre, multi-building private school campus with 500-1000 students? Most DCPS elementary schools are single buildings with at most 200-300 students.

Let's face it. The only thing that you all are afraid of is that the Obama girls will be exposed to inner city, lower class, black kids.

Racist. Classist. Call it whatever you like.


Posted by: stantonpark | November 17, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. President Elect, do yourself and the nation a favor. KEEP YOUR KIDS OUT OF DCPS....

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | November 17, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

ophelia3 the Obama's should make their decision as to where their daughters will attend school as parents, not as two very public figures. They should not have to place their daughters in a public school just to please you or anyone else. If they were my children, the only question regarding public vs private, would be which private school they will attend!

Posted by: ohreallynow1 | November 17, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

stantonpark, are you a product of DC public schools? If yes, I can understand why the Obama's would not want their children to attend one. Your reasoning is flawed.

Posted by: ohreallynow1 | November 17, 2008 9:47 PM | Report abuse

ohreallynow1 | November 17, 2008 9:47 PM

A brilliant post, i must say.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain, with your superior reasoning, why security will be easier in a private school.

Posted by: stantonpark | November 17, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Why would I be surprised to find partisan attacks even now that the election is over, considering the kind of commentary all the "patriotic" "Christians" flooded the internet with during the campaign cycle! Private schools that enroll children of high profile parents have sophisticated security systems, guards, personal security agents, and, in the case of the "First Children," Secret Service agents as well. The idea that a public school could afford to invest in that kind of security, or would want to subject their students, their families, and their staff and faculty to it, is kind of bizarre. Children of diplomats and other political parents are more used to security issues than most kids need to be, thankfully, so to subject them to it just to soothe partisans who will never have a kind word to say about our new President under any circumstance is pointless. If they sent the kids to public school, you would probably complain about the cost to the school district and the inconvenience to the employees, parents (security clearances to enter the building, etc.) and the kids. Some folks just want to trash talk and not think about what is safest for these children who will no doubt be subject to the same hostility and safety issues as their father.

Posted by: rmcdetal | November 17, 2008 9:57 PM | Report abuse

No one is under any obligation to sacrifice their children to make a political statement, which is exactly what the pro-public shool folks here are demanding. Grow up, get over yourselves, and mind your own business.

Posted by: szwheelock | November 17, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

rmcdetal | November 17, 2008 9:57 PM

I would like to point out that DCPS have security guards as well. Some even already have metal detectors (although that is usually seen as a shortcoming or failing).

Similarly, these schools are used to high security measures (so as to keep trouble makers out of the buildings).

Further, the children of diplomats (and other "high profile" people) are already in the DCPS and have been for decades.

Posted by: stantonpark | November 17, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

someone said that most dcps public schools have 200-300...
deal has around 1,000.
wilson has over 1,000.

Posted by: tnt_anna95 | November 17, 2008 10:20 PM | Report abuse

The Obama's should choose the school they
feel is best for their two daughters.
Obviously security and privacy must be considerations but the overriding issue must be which school do they believe the girls get the best education. That school is almost certainly a private school. That is the reality of education in urban America. It would be wrong for the Obama's
to sacrifice the interests of their children to make a statement about the public education system in Washington, DC

Posted by: pobrien3 | November 17, 2008 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The Obama girls are primary school age. DCPS elementary schools are not as large as the middle and high schools that you refer to.

Posted by: stantonpark | November 17, 2008 10:23 PM | Report abuse

The girls have been going to the University of Chicago Laboratory School already, if I recall correctly, and that's a private school operated by the U of C. It's not as if they were public schoolkids before. And I agree with those who say that it's better for them to attend a school that's accustomed to having the children of high-profile Washingtonians among their students. Though I suppose all the children at a public elementary or high school would benefit from heightened security.

Posted by: calcyon | November 17, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

In a way, I feel sorry for these girls. Childhood shouldn't be lived in a fishbowl like this.

Posted by: adhughes | November 17, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Let me count the reasons the Obamas will not be sending their daughters to DC Public Schools.

The negatives are plentiful:

--The average school building is more than 65 years old. Fixing all the infrastructure problems is pegged at $2 billion over 20 years.

--Former Washington Teachers Union President Barbara Bullock and three others have pleaded guilty to stealing $4.6 million in union funds. Four others have been indicted. Bullock admitted embezzling more than $2.5 million during the six years she headed the union.

--D.C. students performed poorly on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math tests for fourth- and eighth-graders.

--The city is looking at its seventh superintendent since 1995 with Michelle Rhee accepting the Chancellor position, replacing Superintendent Clifford B. Janey.

Please be serious people, and try to find fault with President-Elect Obama somewhere where you don't sound or even look so incredibly foolish.

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | November 17, 2008 10:40 PM | Report abuse

OK. Now everybody who, if they were personally rich and had 2 beautiful daughters, would send their kids to DCPS instead of one of the best schools in this area, please, raise you hand.

You in the corner, put your hand down because you are lying. And you with your hand up, well, you're go ahead and do that. Buckling under public pressure instead of picking what is best for your kids must be a difficult decision.

Posted by: BigBubba1 | November 17, 2008 10:42 PM | Report abuse

The Obama's should send their children to whatever school they want - it' their choice and should not be construed as a political statement. With the number of threats already seen against Obama, I'm not sure I'd let them out of the house. There is just too many crazies that have already reared their ugly heads. I'm not sure how comfortable I would be if I was sending my children to a school already equipped with metal detectors.

Posted by: jerzygrl | November 17, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

You can hardly blame Barack Obama if he wants to put his kids into the best and most secure school he can. This is what any good father would and should do.

Posted by: plmroad | November 17, 2008 10:46 PM | Report abuse

Let's be honest about this. Security is not the issue. The Secret Service is perfectly capable of providing security for the girls wherever they go to school. If the Obamas choose to send them to private school, it's because they'll get a superior education there. And it's the decision most D.C. parents who have a choice would make.

Posted by: Rob_ | November 17, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

The welfare of Malia and Sasha should be considerations 1, 2, ..., n. Satisfying politically-oriented critics should not be a consideration. Please, folks, try to think like PARENTS. I speak as the father of three successful grown daughters.

Posted by: cwh2 | November 17, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Okay, let me get this straight: the Republicans who demand vouchers (so they can choose their schools) and HOMESCHOOL in mass numbers (because they want to teach creationism or whatever) do NOT want the President to have a similar choice.

Yeah, that makes sense.

Posted by: sfpanda | November 17, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I think privacy is more of an issue than security. From what I've heard, Amy Carter repeatedly had the "paparazzi" tracking her every move as she went in and out of her public school. The media interest in the private lives of politicians and their families has only intensified in the last 30 years. These girls deserve to have as normal of a school life as possible and if that means sending them to private school where journalists can legitimately be banned from campus, then it's worth it. And yes, security is also an issue, especially given the number of threats, the president-elect has reportedly received.

Posted by: jsberkow | November 17, 2008 10:51 PM | Report abuse


I agree with you, security is not the issue.

I would argue about whether it is a fait accompli that the girls will get a better education in a private school.

Posted by: stantonpark | November 17, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

a PRIVATE school?

when they were in chicago, they sent them to a private school because it was "convenient".

and now?

what is the excuse?

i think this sends a REALLY BAD MESSAGE to the washington d.c. area...

and ALSO, it SLAPS lower and middle america in the FACE because not only does barack obama have wonderful healthcare for himself and his family.. but he has his children in PRIVATE SCHOOLS...

i guess the only way that lower and middle class get to participate in this administration is by GIVING OUR TAX DOLLARS TO THE WALL STREET COMPANIES TO BAIL THEM OUT.

gee thanks.

Posted by: DriveByPoster | November 17, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

The Obama's should follow their best judgment and send their girls to a PRIVATE school. Security will be much better and their parents will have a PEACE of mind. These politically correct folks who want the Obama's to send their girls to a public school do not have the girls' best interest at heart and only want to fulfill some fantasy in their own mind. I went to private school and I should know. DC public schools generally STINK. Improve the schools in DC first then people may feel more comfortable. Everyone else should mind their own business about the Obama's choice of school

Posted by: shelton2 | November 17, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse







Posted by: DriveByPoster | November 17, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

There are now and always have been first class DC Public Elementary Schools. I went to one. There are many teachers who are dedicated, smart and caring. Security might be an issue on the secondary level but it is hard to justify security reasons to avoid public elementary school.
Amy Carter attended DC public shools and so did Obama's best bud Warren (Buffet doncha know). It is a slap in the face to the people of DC who are working so hard for the school system if Obama sends his kids to Maret or GDS or Cathedral or some other exclusive school, but it is not surprising given how what a phoney "man of the people" Obama is.

Posted by: ophelia3 | November 17, 2008 8:17 PM
You're so full of it. The Obamas can send their children to whatever school they feel is appropriate. Some people just have a need to be offended by everything.

Posted by: smc91 | November 17, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse


Why will security be better at a private school? You (and others) make this statement, but never back it up with a reasonable explanation of your logic.

SOME DCPS stink (maybe even most), but there are others that are among the best (public, private or charter) in the area. You'll find plenty of well educated, successful graduates.

Some of us even went to college. I imagine that will come as a shock to "ohreallynow1".

Posted by: stantonpark | November 17, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

this issue is a lot like the NIMBY you always read about.

NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard

basically... everyone always promotes something controversial by saying, "who cares!" until it affects them.. and all of a sudden, "NO FRIGGIN WAY!"

you can campaign on saying that the country is run down.. but we need to "INVEST" in it.. but then the bottom line comes around.. okay barack obama.. put your money where your mouth is.. and suddenly it's, "well..uh... we.. uh... we are sending our kids to private school... only because we like their school colors.. it has nothing to do with the quality of the public schools.. uhh.. yea.. that's it.. it's only because we like their team uniforms...."

yea right obama.

you realize of course.. moronic and presumptuous decisions you make in issues like this can make or break all the other POSITIVE assertions you are making to appease BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE here and trying to win over people...

just so you know...








Posted by: DriveByPoster | November 17, 2008 11:13 PM | Report abuse - because we the people run this country!

Posted by: raidz | November 18, 2008 5:17 AM | Report abuse

I could have sent my son to a private school but I chose my DC neighborhood public school because (1) I went to this school as a child and it still had a great reputation, good test scores and motivated principal & teachers; (2) my son could walk there (3) he had friends in the neighborhood who went there, all of whom also could have afforded private school; and (4) I wanted him to have a diverse class (this school has kids from every race, nation, economic background, creed etc.) and not be surrounded by privilege. DC has some good to great public schools. A little known secret is that high-performing graduates of DC high schools like Wilson and School Without Walls have a better chance of getting into great colleges than kids from private schools. Obama's daughters will get a great education no matter where they choose to go because no school would be allowed to let them down. And their safety will be as well protected in a public or private school. Choosing a public school would be a tremendous gesture of faith in DCPS that would do much to improve the quality of all the schools and give many DC kids a huge boost. I wonder if the Obamas realize how much good they could do for so many by making this choice.

Posted by: kerlin4321 | November 18, 2008 5:51 AM | Report abuse

First, the decision of which school to send Sasah and Malia to is a private decision. The Obamas have to consider the safety of Sasha and Malia. That is paramount. Should they decide to continue with private education, that is their right as parents. They should not choose public schools just for political gain or to appease America. No one should use their children in that manner. The same way that I should not be able to to tell YOU which schools your kids should go to, YOU should not be able to tell the Obamas which school their children should go to. We are living in different times than the Carter Administration not to mention the surge of threats against the Obamas, which stem largely because of the color of their skin. The Obamas are for the people, and what school they choose for their girls does not change that fact.

Posted by: beesweet | November 18, 2008 7:33 AM | Report abuse

The kids went to an exclusive private school in Chicago. Why wouldn't they do the same here?

This is not a "regular" middle class family who decided to move to DC. Despite what all those who voted for him might think, they have always been better than you....

Posted by: Lucky3 | November 18, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

I believe in public education and would only remove my children from public school if it were not meeting their needs. The Obama girls are definitely "special needs" children. Perhaps Senator and Mrs. Obama should phone Amy Carter and ask her to share memories of attending public school during her years at the White House. I recall many photos of her trudging down the sidewalk looking resigned to the presence of the Secret Service agents, and reports that she could not go outside during recess. Many of the private schools have a large campus to provide a buffer zone and allow high-profile students more freedom.

If I were Michelle Obama, I would ask my daughters if they would prefer to stay in Chicago with their grandmother until the end of the school year. Probably they would say no, but they might like to feel they had the choice.

Posted by: hoganandbligh | November 18, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please, WHO CARES??? These girls are 10 and 7, why is there so much scrutiny placed on where they go to school? It's a decision between them and their parents, doesn't make them any better or worse than us regular folks. Why isn't the media more focused on other things, like how the economy totally sucks right now and we have 2 wars going on. Let these kids be!

Posted by: peepmonger | November 18, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Oh, please, really who cares? Leave these girls alone, it's a private matter. Aren't there more important things to scrutinize like the economy or the fact we have 2 wars and no money? Leave these kids be!

Posted by: peepmonger | November 18, 2008 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I am a product of DCPS and I now have a 8 and 6 year that do not attend DCPS. My family is middle class and I started out in private school, but after my parent separation I started going to public school. For those of you who believe that DCPS are the same as when Amy Cater attended them, you must have just come from out of a coma. When my son was 4 and attending a DCPS, he walked out of school during the middle of the day and came home. I had to call the school to find out how and why my son was able to just walk out and no one noticed (not even his teacher). None of my children will attend a DCPS until they have made some major changes.

My mom sent me to live with my God-mother so I can attend Wilson SHS. If DCPS are so great, why would my mom (a Black Woman) not want me to attend a school one block from my house (Cardozo).

I think that if a 4 year could walk out of school and others can walk in thru other doors, then what makes the schools so safe? Grant it, I have friends who are teachers in DCPS and they want a change in the system, but many of them graduated with me and they did not attend their nieghborhood school as well. Having only a handful of good schools is not enough and if President-Elect Obama sends his girls to a DCPS then everyone is going to want thier kids there as well because they are going to feel that is where their kids are going to get the best free education.

Oh yeah, can one of you thinks that Obama kids should go to DCPS tell me what DCPS did President Bush attend? I think I missed that and that don't seem to be an issue to you with all.

Posted by: arks0829 | November 18, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I are both products of public school systems. He was educated totally by DCPS through High School. I attended DCPS for elementary school and then on to Prince Georges County Public Schools. Our daughter attends GDS and it would be great if the Obama kids joined the GDS family. I chose not to place my child in public school because the shape they are in. We all know it. Why should the President of the United States have his kids attend DCPS to prove a point. Mayor Fentey I get putting him on the spot, but the President, come on people. Obama's kids don't attend public school now so why would they change. Face facts a lot of these "great DC elementary schools" like Murch, etc are like mini private schools because of parent involvment, etc. GDS or Sidwell would be a great choice.

Posted by: gr8t68 | November 18, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"and ALSO, it SLAPS lower and middle america in the FACE because not only does barack obama have wonderful healthcare for himself and his family.. but he has his children in PRIVATE SCHOOLS...."

You're way off. My mom is middle class and I went to Sidwell Friends (and had excelled heath coverage). There are grants and financial aid available at the K-12 level for students. I'm all for the Obamas sending Malia and Sasha to a private school. Let's be honest, the quality of education is far superior to any DCPS. When I left Sidwell after 9th grade, my mom moved us to Maryland because she didn't want to send me to a DCPS and even in a MDPS, I could tell the difference between a private school education and a public school education. I was at least 2 years ahead of the rest of my class and didn't feel the lessons challenged me enough (and I took AP classes). Any parent with half a brain would want to give their kids the best possible education.

The people complaining are just fishing for something to bash Obama about and it's pathetic. Would we be having this conversation if it was Sarah Palin trying to determine where to send her kids to school?

Posted by: supergodmom | November 18, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

*"excellent" health coverage

Sometimes I type too fast when I get upset at idiocy.

Posted by: supergodmom | November 18, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Everyone is talking so negatively about choosing to send ones own children to private school. Isnt that what America is about?? I myself, am a product of private school, though not through privelege but by the sacrifices of my parents. Let us not forget that even if parents decide to send kids to private school they still pay the same taxes as a parent who chooses the public school system. So not only do you get the benefit of someone paying there portion of property taxes for a child that doesnt even attend that school, you have one less child in an already overcrowded environment. Its about choice and everyone even the president has the right to make the one they feel is best!!

Signed a Former PG County Teacher..

Posted by: aawsum | November 18, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

No one cares if the Obamas or anyone else sends their kids to private schools.

The objection is to their two facedness when they oppose vouchers which would allow other families to do the same.

Also, don't those who oppose vouchers give a reason that more upper class children in the public schools would bring up the level of the public schools with more parental involvement?

Posted by: malo8000 | November 18, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

No matter what school the Obama's choose for their kids, they will get criticized. If they have the means, and they do, then they should send them to a private school. The education and curriculum are better in private than public. Security wouldn't be an issue in either setting because of Secret Service protection. For those of you saying he is a hypocrite for sending the kids to a private school, get real. Even the mayor of DC sends his kids to a Private school. I went to Public school, not in DC thankfully, and I now send my kids to a private school for the superior education. Leave them alone.

Posted by: Parentof3 | November 18, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: cnftswyd | November 18, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

There are plenty of great DC public schools; I know because I have a daughter in one. But if the Obamas decide that a private school is best for their daughters, the issue is whether President Obama will support vouchers and charter school choices for DC parents who can't afford GDS or Sidwell. For him to choose a private school and oppose these options would suggest, at best, a blind allegiance to the NEA, and at worst, total hypocracy.

Posted by: lafayetteparent | November 18, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse you have kids ? doesn't sound like it. Amy Carter went to public school in the 70's 70's 70's 70's 70's
the climate was MUCH different then, no gangs, no crack being sold on the streets.
Malia and Sasha belong in a private school where the instructors understand their position. Not only are they the president's children but they are AFRICAN AMERICAN. don't you think the danger factor increased just a bit ? It is up to Barack and Michelle to decide where they go but i for one will not fault them for making the best decision for their children.

Posted by: lynnecatlover | November 18, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Well in the argument of security of the girls, private schools are leagues better. Just look at it, schools like Maret, Sidwell, and GDS all have fences and relatively CLOSED OFF CAMPUSES. this would make it alot harder for someone to just walk onto campus with a gun or something and just kill one of them. And seriously, why the hell would you want to sacrifice your daughters education just to make a point? I think all those people bashing the Obamas should take a tour of the DCPS before they say anything else. I GO TO DCPS (WIlson) and there is no way i would send my kids here. Yall must be smokin crack or something fo real. Yall are just ignorant people. leave them alone

Posted by: dsade | November 18, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

If our new Commander in Chief was white I don't think anything would be said about the choice he made for HIS children's education. It would be expected that they would and should attend private school. Both of the Obama's are educated people and they want the same for their children and provided the same before winning this election. I wouldn't put my dog in a DC public school let alone my children. At the end of the day it is their decision and their decision alone.

Posted by: divaness1969 | November 18, 2008 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Do these private schools have no waiting lists?

Posted by: perfgeek | November 18, 2008 10:29 PM | Report abuse

My wife and I have two children in a MD public elementary school. Honestly, if we could afford to send them to private school, we would. That's not to say we're disappointed with the public school system; it's simply that the regional private schools offer a higher quality of education. If the Obamas are able to swing the costs, that's great. They should do what's best for their daughters within their means, no matter what the political circumstances. There is only one chance for doing the right thing for your children.

Posted by: fblanco | November 18, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

The girls already attended private school in Chicago. Why now that their dad is President should they have to attend Public School? That is crazy! Their life should continue the same way with Private school!

Posted by: monie1 | November 20, 2008 6:05 AM | Report abuse

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