School league tables and property values. Want to give your property value a bit of a push along? Then start hoping that you are in an area where your local school does well on the soon to be available student results testing tables. And if your local is down the league ladder then hop in to help the local P&C improve facilities because there’s evidence from the United States to suggest that strong public schools attract home buyers and businesses.

The Baltimore Sun carried the story at the weekend of an unusual not-for-profit community organisation called the Greater Homewood Community Corporation whose executive director Karen Stokes uses public school test scores to market her community. “If the school improves, the neighborhood improves,” said Ms Stokes. “And your real estate values will improve. Even if you have no children in the school … what happens in your local school really does matter.”

The very thought that the results of standardised tests like those Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard is forcing state governments in Australia to introduce will be used to sell houses is sure to cause near apoplexy among the local teachers unions but they had better get used to it. Test scores are often the first thing homebuyers research if they’re relocating from out of state, said Sue Hemmerly, a real estate agent at Long & Foster in Timonium. She’s been in the business for 27 years and remembers when relocating families had to rely on scores clipped out of newspapers and mailed to them by their agents. Now prospective buyers get statistics online, often before they’ve called her. “They come in with very exact ideas of what school they want,” Hemmerly said.

Eric Schwartz, an appraiser with A&E Appraisal Services Inc., told the Sun his Glen Burnie house would be worth at least $25,000 more if it were just a few miles away in Severna Park with its high-scoring schools. He has empirical evidence to back him up: The builder put identical models in both places. “I couldn’t afford to live in the Severna Park system, so I bought where I could afford,” said Schwartz, 53. His daughter and son-in-law, who live nearby and have three young children, are already thinking about moving in a few years into “what they consider a better school district,” he said.

An old fashioned roundsman. If it’s Monday you can look with confidence for a story featuring in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Melbourne Age breaking news about the federal health system. It has struck me several times recently when preparing the Crikey Breakfast Media Wrap at the start of each week how Mark Metherell in these Fairfax papers always seems to lead the way with health coverage. It happened again this morning with his interesting piece on how errors claim the lives of 4550 Australians a year, according to a report to the Government that urges sweeping reforms to the health system.

I thought that perhaps I should prepare a little check list on who are the most reliable and interesting journalists covering some of the specialist subjects and why not start with the environment. I would appreciate the comments of Crikey readers as to who I should be looking out for. You can post a comment below or send an email to [email protected] if you would rather your views were kept a kept a little private.

The Rudd diatribes. I wonder if Kevin Rudd really thinks that he is some kind of gifted intellectual whose views merit lengthy discourses or whether he thinks that there is a political advantage in pretending to the people that he is some kind of intellectual by producing lengthy discourses?