November 17, 2016
By Deirdre Reilly
As President-Elect Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, prepare for their transition from private citizens, the education of their 10-year-old son, Barron, is a top priority for the family. There are plenty of good – and interesting – options in and around the nation’s capital.
Steven Roy Goodman, an educational consultant and the author of “College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family,” has worked with many high-profile people in the school search. He’s not met Barron Trump or Donald Trump, but told LifeZette, “I work with a lot of people with recognizable names when they are in the role of ‘parent,’ so I see a different side of them. In his role as a dad, I’m sure President-Elect Trump would say, ‘I want Barron to have the best educational opportunities that he can have.’ I’m sure his mom, Melania, would say the same thing.”
Their choice will depend on their priorities, said Goodman. “There is nuance in education [either progressive or more classical], and they will want the school that enables Barron to grow in the direction he would grow if his parents weren’t public figures.” He added, “They are not average parents – but they are parents.”
One option for Barron could be home-schooling. “Donald Trump can certainly afford tutors and a home-schooling environment – this is definitely an option for them,” said Goodman.
Public school is also an option, though highly unlikely for them. The last president to send his child to a public school was Jimmy Carter. His daughter, Amy Carter attended Stevens Elementary and Hardy Middle School in Washington, D.C. before enrolling in Holton-Arms, a private school in Bethesda, Maryland. “There will be security details no matter where Barron Trump attends school,” said Goodman.
Another option is the Sidwell Friends School, a private Quaker K-12 school in Washington, D.C. Both Obama girls attended Sidwell Friends (Malia Obama graduated in June, while Sasha is still a student there), and Vice President Biden’s grandchildren are students there. Chelsea Clinton and former vice president Al Gore’s son Albert Gore III are alums.
The tuition is a cool $37,750 a year, and it offers a progressive learning environment. Students don’t take standardized tests, and teachers’ evaluations are not tied to test scores. “There’s a certain cachet to Sidwell, but I don’t see it as a fit for President-Elect Trump,” said Goodman.
Another option is the high-profile St. Albans School, a private Episcopal day and boarding school in D.C. for grades 4 to 12, with a price tag of over $42,000 a year. Former vice president Al Gore, Fox News broadcaster Brit Hume, and Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver are all alums.
“The question is whether or not the Trumps want a high-profile school, which St. Albans is,” said Goodman. “It’s a great school, it offers a classical education, and it’s sort of the flip side of Sidwell. Students there are subjected to constant high-profile media attention. If I were advising President-Elect Trump and if Barron were a high-schooler, I would say, ‘Let’s take a look at St. John’s [St. Johns College High School] and compare it to St. Albans.'”
Goodman would encourage the Trumps to check out the Maret School, an independent, college preparatory, co-ed day school in Washington, D.C., with 650 students in grades K-12. Maret was founded in the early 1900s by three French sisters from Geneva, Switzerland. For middle school, the tuition is approximately $34,605 a year.
“Maret is a private uptown school with very strong academics, and it attracts people from all over the area,” Goodman said. “They [the Secret Service] would have the ability to secure the facility properly – there’s a lot of land right in front of the school. They aren’t as classical as a St. Johns or St. Albans, but Maret does go from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade.”
If the Trumps are open to Virginia schools, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, an independent Episcopal co-ed private K-12 school in Alexandria, might fit the bill.
Tipper Gore, wife of former vice president Al Gore, is an alumnus of the school, and sixth-grade grade tuition would be about $33,740 a year. “It’s a very different experience there,” said Goodman. “It was founded as a religious school, and many people like that. I think they would like the history and tradition of the school. There’s also a certain honor code at this school.”
In a nutshell, Sidwell Friends School or St. Albans would be a higher-profile experience for Barron – the former more progressive and the latter more classical – while St. Stephens & St. Agnes or Maret would be a lower-profile, more classically inclined choice. “That might be something that would be nice to offer them as a family,” noted Goodman.
One clue about President-Elect Trump’s priorities in a school for his young son may lie in his book, “The Art of the Deal.” He wrote, “Perhaps the most important thing I learned at Wharton was not to be overly impressed by academic credentials … That degree doesn’t prove very much.” While Trump attended the Wharton School of Finance after transferring as a junior from Fordham University – he has often sung the praises of vocational education and considers all types of education valuable.