Education

Real Clear Education Editors Leaving to Bring Aggregation to The 74

By Mark Walsh — December 27, 2016 3 min read
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The two top editors of Real Clear Education, the news site offering an aggregation of top education stories from across the country as well as original content, are moving to The 74, the education news website partly funded by the family foundation of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nominee for U.S. secretary of education.

Andrew J. Rotherham, who served as a White House domestic-policy adviser to President Bill Clinton, launched Real Clear Education in 2014 as a joint venture between his Bellwether Education Partners and RealClearPolitics.com, a site offering aggregation of various topics.

Emmeline Zhao, a former editor at the Huffington Post, has been Real Clear Education’s editor since its inception, with Rotherham serving as executive editor.

“When we launched RealClearEducation in 2014 the idea was to create a go-to place for the highest quality news and analysis each day,” Rotherham wrote on Dec. 23 in what he described as his last newsletter from that site. “We’re moving to the education news site The 74 where, starting in early 2017, we’ll continue to produce the kind of news aggregation you’re used to here and also more original content.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Rotherham said that he and Zhao have had a good relationship with RealClearPolitics, but they believe that for the long run affiliating with an education site made sense.

“Real Clear [Education] is terrific, but we felt it was time to find a good education home,” he said. “And this will be a good add for The 74 in terms of offerings.”

The move could benefit The 74 not just based on the addition of a lively daily aggregation of top education stories. The 74 was funded in part by the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, the Michigan-based philanthropy that has been a strong supporter of charter schools and private school vouchers. Betsy DeVos is Trump’s pick for education secretary.

Campbell Brown, the founder of The 74, has close ties to DeVos and herself is a journalist who has strong views in favor of school choice and reform of teacher tenure. That has left some lingering questions about the independence of The 74, although the site has run plenty of strong, fair-minded enterprise stories.

Rotherham, who served a Democratic president and who, like Brown, has straddled journalism and education policy, bristled at the suggestion that his joining The 74 was related to politics or balance.

“There are a bunch of reasons we’re going there, but balance isn’t one of them,” Rotherham said. “Campbell’s politics are Campbell’s politics, but take a look at that site and try to find where the politics are.”

In a written statement, Romy Drucker, the co-founder and CEO of The 74, said: “Andy and Emmeline bring a wealth of experience understanding both education and the great potential of digital news platforms. They have a keen sense of the stories and trends inside America’s classrooms that matter most to our readers and we are excited to welcome them to our fast-growing media company.”

Drucker also followed up to point out that The 74 is in the second and final year of a general operating support grant for the DeVos Family Foundation. “Obviously, given Ms. DeVos’s potential role in the federal government, The 74 will not be seeking additional funding for 2017 or beyond,” Drucker said in an email.

Meanwhile, Rotherham says Real Clear Education will continue, with the RealClearPolitics team supporting it. And on Tuesday, Real Clear Education announced a new editor: Christopher Beach, who has been the executive producer of former U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett’s radio show for the last seven years.

“I’ve had a front-row seat to the nation’s education debates and understand the urgency needed to improve educational outcomes for all Americans,” Beach said in a message to the site’s readers. “At RealClearEducation, we will continue our work as the authoritative clearinghouse for all things education.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.

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