By Lynn Sweet
Chicago Sun-Times Columnist
WASHINGTON — First daughters have transitions, too.
Barbara Bush and fraternal twin sister Jenna Bush Hager, both 26, showed off their White House rooms to the Obama girls, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, on Tuesday as Michelle Obama brought her kids and mom here to check out schools and their living quarters.
The White House visit lasted about an hour, according to Sally McDonough, a spokesman for the first lady.
A week ago Monday, first lady Laura Bush gave Michelle Obama a tour of the private residence — the top floors of the White House — and other rooms in the historic mansion as Michelle visited at least two of the city’s elite private schools.
Michelle Obama, her daughters and mother, Marion Robinson, have been in Washington since Sunday night in the unannounced visit. They are getting ready in advance of the Jan. 20 inauguration, when the Obamas actually move into the White House. Robinson will also be relocating to Washington.
There is a certain slice of Washington breathlessly waiting for the Obamas to decide on which private school Malia, in fifth grade, and second-grader Sasha will attend, because the daughters’ presence will confer social status on everyone associated with the school, even the ones who have a lot of it now.
A pal of mine with a kid at Georgetown Day School said Malia was spotted there on Monday. The teachers were told to “look normal” because the girls just wanted to see the school in its normal state.
Another buddy of mine with children at Quaker-run Sidwell Friends told me that there were Obama family spottings Tuesday at the upper campus of Sidwell in northwest Washington and at the lower campus in Bethesda.
The Maret school may also be in the running; friends of the Obamas send their kids there.
Mayor Adrian Fenty pitched the public schools when we talked recently, but that seems a long shot since the girls now attend the private University of Chicago Lab School.
“Our goal is to have D.C. public schools be as serious an option as any charter or private schools, not just for the Obamas but for any family making the decision,” Fenty told me.
Michelle wanted to let the girls see their choices “for their new schools, to make sure they find the right fit. That’s the priority,” Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the spokesman for the incoming first lady, told me Tuesday.
Sidwell has a very rich student body, but the faculty tries to downplay wealth. Georgetown Day — the first school to integrate in the city — is known as more progressive; teachers are called by their first names.
The Obamas’ private tuition bills will jump because right now they only pay half price at the Lab School. Faculty and staff — Michelle had been at the U. of C. Medical Center — get the steep discount. The Lab school costs $18,492 for a second-grader and $20,286 for a fifth-grade student. Sidwell charges $28,442 for the lower school and $29,440 for the upper school. The bill for Georgetown Day is $27,945.