Michelle Obama tours elite private schools for Malia and Sasha

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WASHINGTON — The most elite private schools here are competing for Obama’s daughters, and Michelle Obama toured two of them during a Monday day trip.

Since the Obama girls, Sasha, 7 and Malia, 10, already attend a private school — the University of Chicago Lab School — it seems unlikely that the Obamas would enroll the kids in public schools here.

As Gabriel Sherman in the Atlantic put it, “The Obama era may be less than a week old, but denizens of the city’s toniest neighborhoods have already fixated on the objects of greatest cachet: for status-conscious parents and elite private-school headmasters, nothing is more coveted than the Obamas’ young daughters.”

Sherman continued, ” . . . Among the Washington power elite — the law-firm partners, high government officials, and big-name journalists — the process of applying to private school is not only ulcer-inducing (and wallet-busting — tuitions run as high as $28,000 this year) but is a particularly brutal spectator sport, a playing field littered with broken egos and thwarted ambition. With everyone looking for an edge, what could be better for a couple than letting slip to social rivals at a cocktail party that their child is a classmate of a presidential daughter?”

When I asked President-elect Obama at his press conference last week if he decided on public or private schools for their daughters, he replied, “Michelle will be scouting out some schools. We’ll be making a decision about that in the future.”

The Associated Press reported that Michelle Obama visited Georgetown Day School and the Quaker-run Sidwell Friends School — both in Northwest Washington — taking the side trips after meeting President Bush and Laura Bush with her husband, the president elect.

Sidwell, near the Washington Cathedral, is the school Chelsea Clinton graduated from and is the place where Bill and Hillary were often reported, back in the 1990s, attending parent conferences and such.

“We are not commenting on schools until a decision is made on where the kids will go,” Michelle Obama spokesman Katie McCormick Lelyveld told me in an e-mail.

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