When President Jimmy Carter assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable: He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school. The move was symbolic, a commitment the Democrat from Georgia had made even before he securing the presidency. In his presidential-nomination acceptance speech the previous year, Carter criticized“exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906. She still is. When Sasha and Malia Obama moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with their dad, they enrolled in the $40,000-a-year Sidwell Friends—a highly selective Quaker school that also boasts Chelsea Clinton, Julie and Tricia Nixon, and Albert Gore III, among other political progeny, as alumni. Boarding schools such as Phillips Exeter Academy have been another popular option among past presidents, including John F. Kennedy, Calvin Coolidge, and Theodore Roosevelt. For the many presidents whose kids were adults by the time they assumed office, it’s hard to say where those kids would have attended school as first children had they been younger. But if Clinton’s trajectory is any indication, those presidents probably wouldn’t have taken the Carter route: Even children who had traditionally attended public school—such as Chelsea Clinton—enrolled in private school once their father assumed the presidency.

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