Michael Pascoe writes:

Perhaps only old journalists still know
the expression, but “burying the lead” has always been a cardinal sin – leaving
the best part of a story buried down in the body copy. The Sydney Morning
Herald
‘s front page lead this morning might well stand accused of it.

The SMH splashes with the news that the
Sydney Catholic Education Office will set performance targets for its 63,000
students in an attempt to raise academic standards.

There seems to be more than a touch of
politics involved as this reportedly is to be announced at the Sydney
Entertainment Centre tonight by “with endorsements by the Archbishop of Sydney,
George Pell, the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Premier, Morris Iemma.”

Buried in the body of the story is a
hint of why such a high-profile announcement might be necessary: Cath Ed’s lack
lustre performance.

“In HSC advanced
English, the target is for 7 per cent of students to gain band six, the highest
band, by 2007. Last year 5 per cent of Sydney’s Catholic students hit that target, compared with the
state average of 8 per cent,” reports the Herald.

A little more
digging might find Cardinal Pell’s Catholic primary schools seriously lagging
behind results achieved in their much-criticised State equivalents.

Peter Fray

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