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"Sound science" by premature press release. Karen Charman describes a closed meeting of researchers on corn genetically modified with Bacillus thuriengiensis sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization and held in Chicago last November (In These Times, September 18): "The day before the meeting, BIO issued a press release announcing that the symposium would conclude that Bt corn did not harm monarchs [butterflies]. Stories appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch dutifully reporting the industry's premature analysis of the meeting's conclusions. But according to Lincoln Brower, a monarch butterfly expert who attended the meeting, BIO's scientific symposium turned out to be little more than a highly orchestrated PR stunt. 'It was absolutely incorrect to say the results of that scientific meeting concluded there was minimal impact [from Bt corn pollen] on the monarch butterfly, because most of the people hadn't even finished their experiments or finished analyzing their data.'"

Take that, Cardinal Ratzinger! Doug Dobmeyer on why he left the Catholic church (StreetWise, September 11): "It was impossible to raise a daughter and be married to an intelligent woman in a church that treats women as second class people."

Neighborhoods matter. Public-housing residents who moved out under the Gautreaux program between 1976 and 1990 were more likely to get off welfare when they moved to places where more of their neighbors had some education beyond high school, report Northwestern University's James Rosenbaum and Stefanie DeLuca ("Is Housing Mobility the Key to Welfare Reform?" Brookings Institution Survey Series, September). "Even after statistically controlling for mothers' age, years since Gautreaux placement and initial AFDC receipt, neighborhood educational composition still had strong effects on later AFDC"--more of an effect than whether individuals moved to a city or suburban location.

Before the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention, "local governments couldn't sneeze without going to state government," Dawn Clark Netsch tells Burney Simpson in Illinois Issues (September). Simpson adds, "She recalls that the first Mayor Daley, in the midst of reforming the police department in the early 1960s, needed the legislature's approval just to change the color of the flashing lights on squad cars."

As tourists see us. Barbara Briggs Morrow writes in Midwest Living (October): "Chicago doesn't seem to know how to sleep in on Saturday."

Choosing your CPS high school hurts no one, according to Julie Cullen of the University of Michigan and Brian Jacob and Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago, in a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research ("The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," working paper 7888). They looked at graduation rates for 69,000 CPS students entering high school in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Since 1980 the Options for Knowledge program has left such students largely free to choose which high school to attend. Compared to a hypothetical alternative in which all students attend their neighborhood public high school, this school-choice program has done little to promote racial integration (its intended purpose) but a great deal to segregate high schoolers by ability. The authors found no evidence that this segregation by ability helped the students who chose to travel to nonneighborhood high schools and no evidence that it harmed those who stayed in their neighborhood high schools--at least as measured by graduation rates. "Our results provide little ammunition for those holding extreme views in favor of or against school choice."

Just what Du Page needs--more wealth. The Donors Forum of Chicago and the College of DuPage have established the Philanthropy Center in Glen Ellyn, which will "provide a wealth of information to help suburban nonprofits run and improve their organizations," according to the Donors Forum's Barbara Kemmis ("Forumnotes," September).


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