Whenever I visit Junior's school, I try and pick up a copy of a newspaper called "Side by side", which is described as "the newspaper for NSW public schools".
It's a bloody awful newspaper - full of the worst public sector goop one can imagine. They might as well translate old copies of Pravda and publish that instead. Everytime I try and digest it, I imagine an editorial committee of wierd-beards in their birkenstock sandals (plastic, zip-up shoes in winter), grey cardigans and corduroy trousers deciding on how to waste another slab of taxpayer's funds. I can't for the life of me think why anyone would read it voluntarily. I read it because it utterly horrifies me, and reminds me that socialism must be encased in a concrete block and dumped somewhere offshore in a depp ocean trench.
I was reading one of the issues that I picked up recently and found that I was vaguely disturbed. I couldn't put my finger on it, but then it struck me that the paper was putting an awfully large amount of emphasis on two issues only - green issues and black issues.
I pulled out my ruler and tried to determine how much of the paper was devoted to each topic.
For starters, the paper is 28cm x 39cm and has 24 pages. That gives it 26,208 square centimetres of paper to play with.
(These numbers don't add up precisely, because I was not being altogether precise in my measurements).
Of those 26,208 square centimetres of virgin paper, 6,888 were used on white space, headers, footers, advertisements and the usual "published by" legal guff. 28% of the surface area of the paper was devoted to.... nothing useful.
There were a stack of job ads at the back for teachers - they got 4,368 square centimetres. Sport took up 1,638 centimetres. That left 11,442 square centimetres for news.
3,724 square centimetres of available "news" space was devoted to environmental or aboriginal issues - 33% of the news. There was almost nothing devoted to what I would term educational issues - it was all puff pieces on greenies and various aspects of aboriginal education.
Thinking that issue must have been devoted to those issues, I took my ruler to the next issue.
The results were fairly similar.
Now two papers does not make a good sample, and the paper does not seem to be available on line, so I can't do any more analysis until I scarfle another paper on my next visit to the school. But bloody hell, if that doesn't give you a taste of where the heads of our educational bureaucrats are at, nothing will.
(There was nothing devoted to special needs in either issue).