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Federal File: Courting Chelsea; School ties

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Political observers may be discussing candidates for Cabinet posts, but Washington school officials are concerned about another choice facing President-elect Bill Clinton: what school his daughter, Chelsea, will attend.

Franklin L. Smith, the superintendent of the District of Columbia schools, and R. David Hall, the president of the D.C. school board, have both sent letters to Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary, urging them to send the 12-year-old Chelsea to a local public school.

"When you get the President moving to town with a child of school age, if he enrolls his child in a public school, it sends a strong message,'' Mr. Smith told The Washington Post. "It says he has confidence in that system and he has confidence in urban education.''

Officials at private Georgetown Day School told the Post that they have also sent information to Little Rock, in response to a request.

Chelsea Clinton is currently an 8th grader at Mann Magnet School, a racially diverse public school in Little Rock.

Choosing a private school might be politically risky for a Democratic President who has pledged to support public schools and received strong backing from the teachers' unions.

But the Post reported in 1989 that the vast majority of executive-branch officials and members of Congress opt out of the troubled D.C. school system.

Vice President-elect Al Gore sends his son to the prestigious St. Albans School, and two daughters to its sister school, the National Cathedral School. A third daughter is an N.C.S. alumna.

Vice President Quayle's daughter is also an N.C.S. student. His older son graduated from a respected Jesuit institution, Gonzaga College High School, where Mr. Quayle's younger son is currently enrolled.

Before they moved into the Vice President's residence, the Quayle children attended public schools in McLean, Va., an upscale suburb.

Amy Carter, the last school-age child to live in the White House, attended public elementary and middle schools.

After President Carter left office, Amy attended a private school in Atlanta.

Fourteen new members of Congress--one senator and 13 representatives--have a professional connection to education, according to Congressional Quarterly.

Of the more than 120 new members, nine identified themselves as college administrators or instructors. Four are teachers or retired teachers. Don Hamburg, D-Calif., is the director of a student-exchange program between the United States and China.--J.M. & M.P.

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