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Here today, gone tomorrow. According to a Catalyst Chicago (November) analysis of school board data, 18 percent of teachers hired by Chicago Public Schools in 1996-'97 quit the system within two years. That figure ballooned to 31 percent of teachers hired in 2001-'02, even though the job market slumped and teacher attrition numbers elsewhere remained constant. Reported problems include a lack of mentoring and a lack of support from principals.

$667. That's the average monthly cost of living in a three-bedroom apartment if you're a member of a limited-equity housing cooperative, according to a recent study by the Chicago Mutual Housing Network and the Voorhees Center of the University of Illinois at Chicago. According to CMHN's newsletter "Co-Opportunities" (fall), the low cost is "primarily due to the below-market interest rate loans, the shared expenses and, due to resident control, the lack of a third party speculating on buildings in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods in Chicago."

"Most people are unaware that all of the earthworms in the Midwest are nonnative European and Asian species," says a November 10 DePaul University press release describing the research of environmental scientist Liam Heneghan. Usually considered beneficial, these earthworms are now so prevalent they're harming native plants. The worms happen to prefer the leaf litter of another invasive alien, the European buckthorn. Writing in the November Chicago Wilderness Journal, Heneghan concludes that the worms may have a negative affect on soil processes even after ecological restorationists remove the buckthorn.

Opinions you won't find in the Tribune. "Imagine if we had told Israel and Palestine a couple of years ago that if they would just make nice we would give them enough money to equal Israel's GDP for one year and Palestine's for three," writes Sam Smith in "Undernews" (December 2). "Take the time off, go to the Riviera or the Catskills, forget about productivity, and just party thanks to the American taxpayer. Or if Israel and Palestine wanted to be really sensible, they could have invested in their country's future instead. Think how much safer we would be today. But where would such a large sum of money come from? Well, gentle reader, all we would have had to have done was to cancel the planned invasion of Iraq and used the money as a carrot rather than as a bludgeon. For that is just what it has cost us so far."

Knocking down the high-rises misses the point. Edward Shurna of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless spoke at a November 10 hearing and noted: "Recently a survey was taken in 7 emergency shelters that are used for families. This survey was taken over a six-month period and indicated that 172 families moved directly into homeless shelters during the year in which they left public housing.... We fear that this is the tip of the iceberg. Many more families will become homeless as a result of the [CHA's] Plan for Transformation because replacement housing is not being built at a rate to match the demolition of public housing."

Which are the appropriate ones? From the Near West/South Gazette (December 8): "Several of the embattled residents living near the 800 block of South Loomis Street claim they have witnessed students urinating on their neighbors' properties and engaging in inappropriate sexual acts in public."

"The religion of classical Greece is far from being, as many have supposed from a very early date, frivolous or immoral or irrelevant to our deepest needs," writes Jasper Griffin in the New York Review of Books (December 18), recounting the argument of Mary Lefkowitz's Greek Gods, Human Lives: What We Can Learn From Myths. "It is, she claims, a religion which 'describes mortal life as it really is, fragile, threatened, uncertain, and never consistently is a religion for adults.'... The religion of the Olympians, for Lefkowitz, is more grown up, more true, than the familiar religions of the modern world. Its lack of comfort, specifically, is what distinguishes it from the religions of salvation which have been more fashionable in the last couple of millennia." Happy New Year.


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