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"Minority students who had been in small classes from kindergarten through third grade received scores [on standardized math tests] that were 7.26 points higher in ninth grade than students who were in regular-sized classes," according to a May 1 University of Chicago press release about the first study to ask whether smaller classes in early grades improve students' high school math achievement. Coauthor and U. of C. sociologist Larry Hedges says, "Mathematics achievement is often characterized as a gatekeeper for college admission...and a significant predictor of overall college success." White students also benefited from smaller classes, but not as much. The results were published in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Education.

No problem, right? According to a March 13 U.S. General Accounting Office report, "Information on Pesticide Illness Reporting Systems," pounds of pesticides used every year in U.S.: 1.2 billion. Number of states with formal pesticide illness reporting and investigation systems: six.

What price 10,000 asthma attacks? According to a new study from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (reported in "Risk in Perspective," April), if nine old coal-fired power plants in and upwind of Chicago were required to clean up their act, the reduction in particulate pollution alone would save 300 lives a year and eliminate 2,000 emergency-room visits, 10,000 asthma attacks, and 400,000 incidents of daily upper-respiratory symptoms.

The "revolution" that wasn't. Michael Kinsley writes in Slate (February 9): "Federal government spending was a quarter higher in real terms when Reagan left office than when he entered. As a share of GDP, the federal government shrank from 22.2 percent to 21.2 percent--a whopping one percentage point. The federal civilian work force increased from 2.8 million to 3 million....Under eight years of Big Government Bill Clinton, to choose another president at random, the federal civilian work force went down from 2.9 million to 2.68 million. Federal spending grew by 11 percent in real terms--less than half as much as under Reagan. As a share of GDP, federal spending shrank from 21.5 percent to 18.3 percent--more than double Reagan's reduction, ending up with a federal government share of the economy about a tenth smaller than Reagan left behind." Reagan is now suffering from Alzheimer's, but what dread disease afflicts the millions who worship at Ronnie's "conservative" shrine or Bill's "liberal" one?

Gay foreign policy, as Paul Varnell, writing in the Chicago Free Press (May 30), would have it: "So long as the United States has an ambassador to the Vatican, that person should be gay. It is high time those men in cassocks at the Vatican secretariat met a gay man who is not repressed, closeted or a hypocrite."

Costs of prohibition. According to the Compiler (Spring), published by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, the state police Forensic Science Center, which opened on Roosevelt Road in 1996 and is already slated for expansion, handles "about 60,000 pieces of evidence a year, with roughly 80 percent of those items being drugs."

Madison's been that way for a long time. According to the "Green Party Election Report, US--2001," posted by Mike Feinstein of the Green Party of California State Clearinghouse at www.feinstein.org/ greenparty/electionreport2001, Madison, Wisconsin, has six Green officeholders--two city council members, three county supervisors, and one school board member--"making up the largest number of Greens holding office in one city." The runners-up, with only three Greens per town, are Santa Fe, New Mexico; Santa Monica, California; and Sebastopol, California.

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