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Did you use the Illinois tuition tax credit to send your kid to private school? Don't forget to thank the cleaning lady for helping you pay for it. In a September 24 report based on Illinois Department of Revenue figures for the year 2000 ("Misplaying the Angles"), People for the American Way found that the state's new tuition-tax-credit law cost the state budget $61 million. Of that, $28 million went to families earning more than $80,000, and just $1.7 million went to families earning less than $20,000. (The tax credit, unlike a voucher, is most useful to those who pay the most taxes.) Meanwhile, the state has slashed $176 million in public-school spending.

Proofreading with the spell checker. Publicity for a current Renaissance Society exhibition includes this line: "At [James] Agee's suggestion, the article would be illustrated with photographs by his friend Walker Evans whom Fortune had used before and who had become aquatinted with the region..."

Let the kids at the bottom flounder--got it? DePaul education professor Pauline Lipman, writing in the summer issue of the American Educational Research Journal: "The central office encourages a form of educational triage--focusing extra instruction on students with the potential to raise a school's scores above the 50th percentile. Teachers and administrators at Grover, Westlawn, and Brewer [fictitious names for real Chicago public schools she studied] attended workshops at the district's central office, where they were told to pay less attention to students well above the 50th percentile and to those with no hope of reaching it. As one teacher put it in May 2000, 'We had...the head of our district, our region, come and tell us, "When you are walking around your classroom and the kids are working, the kids whose shoulders you need to lean over and give a little extra help are the kids who have stanine four and five."' This practice, in force at Grover and Westlawn and at other schools across the city, runs counter to claims that current policies promote equity."

"The history of TIF [tax increment financing] in Illinois is not unlike the history of the Illinois enterprise zone program," writes University of Illinois at Springfield political scientist Kent Redfield, who worked on the original state TIF legislation in 1977 ("PRAGmatics," Summer). "Enterprise zones started out as a program designed to attract private development to a limited number of urban areas of greatest need. In practice, it became a demand driven, politically influenced program with 98 zones created primarily to assist existing Illinois companies or attract a specific company to Illinois. Redeveloping depressed urban areas or improving the lives of poor people became only an indirect, optional outcome of the program." According to the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group, "some 13.4 percent of Chicago's entire property tax base and more than one- quarter of its acreage fall under TIF designation," including such un- impoverished areas as the Loop.

Is it possible to overpay for the governor's mansion? Gubernatorial candidates Rod Blagojevich and Jim Ryan were tied in at least one poll in early May, reports Pete Sherman in the Illinois Times (October 3-9). "According to state records, during the next two months Ryan's campaign spent $1.43 million, while Blagojevich spent about half that much"--and Ryan dropped in the polls as Blagojevich rose.

"The notion of a direct Iraqi attack on the United States is credible only if one assumes that Saddam Hussein is suicidal. Yet he has shown no signs of that trait," writes Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute (September 24). Ever since World War II, the U.S. has held all kinds of weirdo dictators in check by deterrence--the threat of overwhelming retaliation if they started something. "Why, then, do Bush administration officials apparently assume that Saddam Hussein is undeterrable? It cannot be that Saddam is more brutal than America's previous adversaries. Khrushchev and Brezhnev were equally thuggish, and as a colleague of mine has noted, Mao and Stalin were the gold and silver medalists in the 20th century's genocide Olympics."

Y'know, there was a time when the Irish ruled Chicago. WBEZ's folk music purge nears completion now that Thistle & Shamrock has been replaced on the schedule by a Sinatra program.

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