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The continuing crisis? The minimum level of funding the state of Illinois currently guarantees to all school districts: $4,560 per pupil per year. Amount recommended by the Ikenberry Commission in 1996: $4,225. Amount recently recommended by the Center for the Study of Educational Policy at Illinois State University: $4,946. Amount recommended in a recent study by Augenblick & Meyers: between $5,000 and $5,500. (Figures are from the Metropolitan Planning Council's September issue of "Issue Brief.")

The riots that never happened. Thomas Bier of Cleveland State University writes in a paper published by the Brookings Institution, "Moving Up, Filtering Down: Metropolitan Housing Dynamics and Public Policy" (September): "America has yet to come to grips with the fact that its way of dealing with 'old' real estate, which is the same way that it deals with cars and refrigerators, eventually decimates suburbs just as it decimated major cities. Use, sell, move on. The only difference is time--houses decline more slowly....If all the decline that occurred in the past 25 years had instead been contained within one year, surely civil and political upheaval would have followed."

Peers? Alden Loury reports in the July/August issue of the Chicago Reporter on 147 felony trials completed in Cook County Circuit Court in the first half of 2000: "When there were no people from black census tracts on the jury, black defendants were convicted 89 percent of the time; with three or more people from black areas, the rate was 67 percent."

Careful what you wish for. Continental Airlines' chief executive, Robert Ferguson, is quoted in the airline's magazine Continental (September) as telling flight attendants, "If United Airlines needed help crossing the street, I'd say, 'Sure, go ahead,' and watch them get hit by a truck. I'd say, 'Sorry, I thought the light was red, not green.' And then I wouldn't even call 911."

How to renew "nonrenewable" resources. "A piece of copper ore is just a rock unless one has the knowledge to mine, melt, refine, alloy, mill, shape, and ship it," writes Ronald Bailey in "Reason Online" (August 29). "The Stone Age didn't end because humanity ran out of stones. Whether some physical quantity is a resource or not depends crucially on our knowledge about it....People create resources by finding uses for what once seemed useless. In [Stanford economist Paul] Romer's words, 'Economic growth springs from better recipes, not just from more cooking.' We make ourselves better off not by increasing the amount of stuff on planet Earth--that is, of course, effectively fixed--but by rearranging the stuff we have available so that it provides us with more of what we want."

"Having a child did not impede [teenage girls'] aspirations," according to a summary of Ariel Kalil's research from the Center for Human Potential and Public Policy at the University of Chicago's Harris Graduate School ("Transitions to Adulthood for Adolescent Mothers," "More than 80% of the mothers believed that having a child increased the importance of having and the commitment to finding a good job....Overall, the mothers held very mainstream values and goals regarding education and their future aspirations."

And I estimate that the current temperature is 59.76254 degrees. A September 5 press release from American Forests ( announces that a "dramatic new national study...shows an estimated 634,407,719 trees are missing from America's urban areas."

In a sentence. The September Illinois Issues quotes Chicago Architecture Foundation volunteer Joseph LaRue on Mies van der Rohe's 1951 Farnsworth House in far west suburban Plano, which was despised by his client and is soon to be purchased for $6 million by the state of Illinois: "It's perfect, aside from its impracticality."

Gambling problem? Come to the boat and help our bottom line. University of Illinois economist Earl Grinols writes in the journal Managerial and Decision Economics with University of Georgia colleague David Mustard: "Two-thirds to 80 percent of gambling revenues come from the 10 percent of the population that gambles most heavily."

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