Obama picks Chelsea's old Quaker school

President-elect enrols daughters at prestigious private institution

As the public face of his White House continues to take shape, Barack Obama has made a crucial announcement regarding his family's private life: he has decided where his two daughters are to be educated.

The President-elect and his wife, Michelle, brought an end to one of Washington's most popular guessing games when a spokeswoman revealed that Sasha and Malia, aged seven and 10 respectively, will shortly enrol at Sidwell Friends School.

In choosing one of the city's most prestigious private institutions, the Obamas are placing themselves at the heart of the Democratic establishment: Sidwell was where Chelsea Clinton studied during the 1990s, and is the alma mater of Al Gore III, the son of the former vice-president. Three of Joe Biden's grand-daughters are among the 1,097 students, as are children of the journalist Bob Woodward and Hillary Clinton's pollster, Mark Penn.

"A number of great schools were considered," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for America's future first lady. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."

The Quaker school, which charges $30,000-a-year (£20,000), has two selling points that appealed to the Obamas. First, it boasts a strong basketball team. Second, it is well suited to guaranteeing security and privacy. Its main campus, which caters for students aged from 10 to 17, is on a private 15-acre site in north-west Washington. The junior department can be found in a walled campus in suburban Bethesda, Maryland, suggesting that Michelle Obama's "school run" will take in two locations for at least the next three years.

Although that represents a minor logistical headache, the extra journey time is compensated for by the school's avowedly liberal leanings, which make it unlikely to provide any political embarrassment for its famous parents.

In an almost painfully politically-correct introduction to its educational philosophy, the school's website notes that "39 per cent of the student body are students of colour," and "22 per cent receive almost $5m of need-based financial assistance". A quarter of the 105 staff are also "of colour", while 5 per cent are members of the Quaker church. Students receive diversity training and active support groups cater for straight, gay, lesbian and transgendered pupils.

The school was founded in 1883 and has a long tradition of serving Washington's political elite: president Richard Nixon's daughter, Trisha, was a student there in the 1970s.

Although a modern British prime minister would almost certainly face criticism for not sending his children to a state school, the issue of private education is a less polarising one in American politics.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most