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The Washington Post's Sunday Magazine on Pitbull and Education

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A few weeks ago, I sang the praises of the quarterly "Education Life" section of The New York Times, an underappreciated gem of a section packed with stories focused on higher education.

I mentioned that a few other newspapers had periodic, token education sections that were little more than advertising vehicles. Somewhere in between the those two extremes is the quarterly education issue of The Washington Post's Sunday magazine.

The latest education issue appeared in the Feb. 23 edition of the Post. The cover story, and the highlight of the three-story package, is called "Pitbull's Game Changer." It's a story by Neely Tucker about the Sports Leadership and Management school, a charter school in Miami that is promoted by Armando Christian Pérez, also known as the rapper Pitbull.

The school stresses areas of study such as sports management, broadcasting, and sports medicine for students as young as 6th grade (11- and 12-year-old sports medicine specialists?). The school is run by Academica, a Miami-based for-profit that provides support services to some 120 charter schools and owns others.

"To help get SLAM off the ground in Miami, Academica officials turned to Pérez/Pitbull," Tucker writes in the Post magazine piece. "The father of six young children, three of them in Academica schools, he had already given motivational speeches at several schools. He doesn't contribute financially to SLAM but agreed to do speeches and media appearances touting it."

The piece is a bit about SLAM and Academica, a bit about celebrity endorsements of charter schools. "Entertainers and athletes are lending their brands to schools in steadily growing numbers," Tucker says.

The other pieces in the education issue are about summer course programs for K-12 students on college campuses and an advice piece on "Picking a Private School."

This is the first education issue under The Washington Post's new owner, Jeffrey P. Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com Inc., though it's unlikely Bezos has put his stamp on the magazine or the quarterly education issue.

Back in September, the Post's media blogger, Erik Wemple, reported that two stories were pulled from the Post magazine's August education issue following objections from the newspaper's business side. However, both stories—one on college drinking and the other on benefits for gay and lesbian couples at Virginia's public universities—did eventually run in the magazine or another section of the paper.

Since most U.S. newspapers don't even have a Sunday magazine anymore, much less a periodic education issue, the Washington Post probably deserves some credit for maintaining its version. The Post's version, though a bit parochial, is occasionally worth a look from outside the Beltway.

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