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Why I am a Catholic. "As a young Catholic woman, I've kind of gotten used to the Catholic Church not reflecting me," writes Heidi Schlumpf (U.S. Catholic, July). "Its language doesn't include me, its homilies hardly ever pertain to my life, and many of its jobs are not open to me. My disconnection seems to increase as I look higher up the hierarchical ladder. To them, my opinions don't matter, my concerns are not priorities, and my requests for change are a nuisance. In a word, I feel powerless."

Oak Park and Cicero--a marriage made in heaven. In a recent paper published by the Brookings Institution ("Valuing America's First Suburbs," April), Robert Puentes and Myron Orfield outline a strategy for older suburbs in the midwest, which they describe as "not poor enough to qualify for many federal and state reinvestment programs and not large enough to receive federal and state funds directly." They conclude that these inner-ring suburbs "can change this by building coalitions that reach across geographic, partisan and ideological lines. These coalitions should be nimble and entrepreneurial--aligning on some issues with the central city, on other issues with rapidly growing suburbs and rural areas."

Timeline. Tom Sharp reports in Substance (June) that on May 14 Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan held a press conference at which he claimed to be cutting school bureaucracy, without giving specifics. On May 15 Education Week ran a CPS advertisement seeking to hire two dozen "Area Instructional Officers" to start July 1.

Equal opportunity revival? Maybe so, if the "Client Alert" (May) published by the promanagement suburban law firm Wessels & Pautsch is any indication: "Most EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] offices have recently employed a substantial number of well-educated and aggressive new investigators," who have an average caseload of about 40. "There will be a strong emphasis toward on-site investigations," especially in disability discrimination cases. "EEOC investigators are told to quickly view the worksite, job content and possible reasonable accommodations."

Race to the top. If globalization were hurting the poorest and most vulnerable workers, you'd expect child labor to be on the rise in the developing world. It's not, according to the Progressive Policy Institute's review of World Bank data ("PPI Trade Fact of the Week," May 8). Not only did the percentage of children working fall from 20 percent in 1980 to 11 percent in 1999, but the drop was most dramatic in East Asia, from 26 percent to 8 percent. "Much of this drop seems due to development. While public debate on child labor focuses on export-oriented manufacturing, the Department of Labor believes that only about 5 percent of child labor is in this sector. Most is in subsistence agriculture, with basic services second. Thus, economies based on subsistence agriculture have the highest child labor rates, and rates fall as they move into urban industry."

No more hollow city. University of Illinois at Chicago economist Daniel McMillen documents what everybody's noticed by now (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago "Economic Perspectives," second quarter). Surveying sales of single-family homes that sold at least twice between 1983 and 1998, he finds that "prices rose far more rapidly near the city center than at the edge of the Chicago city limits. In the early 1980s, house prices increased with distance from the city center. In contrast, [by the end of the 90s] house prices declined by nearly 8 percent with each additional mile from the city center."

Which side are you on? Edwin DuBose of the Park Ridge Center on hospital chaplains (Second Opinion, April): "The chaplain is interacting with [a patient] who finds herself in a strange environment, populated with people speaking a different language, with different customs. Moreover, the patient is usually not there by choice and has given up her identity markers: clothes, freedom, and routine. Thus, because of his association with the institution, the chaplain faces a certain amount of suspicion--to whom is his principal allegiance, the patient or the hospital?"


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