Politico’s big education package came out yesterday, complete with (glowing) profile of Arne Duncan, (skeptical-minded) reporting about online learning, and a fascinating oral history tracing out how the unlikely group of politicians (Kennedy, Miller, Boehner, Bush among them) got NCLB done way back in 2001. 

Some folks have admired the Duncan profile, others haven’t — but none of the discussion I’ve seen has been about whether the piece was a good piece of journalism or not.

Mostly it’s been about advocates debating whether the piece shows Duncan’s savvy or not (which is funny, given that it was Duncan who angered white suburban moms by calling them out on their fears of the Common Core and blithely endorsed same-sex marriage live on cable news during that awkward period when President Obama hadn’t yet announced his own position). 

Worth noting is that the package is sponsored by Comcast/NBCUniversal rather than paid for out of Politico’s own revenues.  That’s one reason, perhaps, that Politico kept most of its regular education reporters out of the process. (Another might be that it lost its star K-12 reporter, Stephanie Simon, earlier this year, and only recently named former AP writer Kimberly Hefling to replace her.)

Mike Grunwald wrote the Duncan profile. Darren Samuelsohn wrote several of the other pieces.  No official word back from Politico or Comcast what the arrangement was, but I’m told by one of the reporters involved in the process that it was entirely hands-off in terms of funder meddling.

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Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.