Chicago-area schools are by far the most segregated by income in the country, according to 1997 figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, compiled by Myron Orfield in his new book, American Metropolitics. In order for every elementary school in the Chicago region to have an equal proportion of students eligible for free lunches, 95 percent of these children would have to change schools. This “dissimilarity index,” a standard measure of segregation, is only 64 percent in Cleveland, the next most segregated region. Least segregated is Tampa, at 36. The average for the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas is 54.

What’s up with the plants? Change, writes Steve Hill of the Illinois Natural History Survey in its newsletter, “Reports” (Summer). Some 64 native plants “have not been seen in Illinois for many years, despite searches, and…may no longer exist in the state.” Of these, “31 were at their continental northern range limits, 18 were near their continental southern range limits, 9 were at their central-western range limits, 1 was at its eastern range limit, and 5 were well within their expected ranges in Illinois. Despite our fears of global warming, the data reveal that more species (48% of the total extirpated) with southern affinities have disappeared from our flora in the past 20 years than species with northern affinities (28% of the total extirpated).” Then again, this finding may be an artifact, given that “there have been more field botanists searching for plants in the Chicago area than in extreme southern Illinois.”

Just what they always needed. A July 22 press release from the Illinois Humanities Council announces that applications are open for the “Odyssey Project, a free, eight-month program of college-level humanities courses for people living in poverty.”

“Collective entitlement is the notion that I am owed something, not because of what I made or did but because I belong to a category,” writes libertarian humorist P.J. O’Rourke in the Cato Policy Report (July/August). “Notice how the idea of collective entitlement is much more popular than the idea of collective forfeiture. Very, very rarely does somebody volunteer to go to jail because the other members of his ethnic group have been running the protection rackets in Brooklyn for decades.”

Tariffs as taxes on the poor. According to a recent Progressive Policy Institute press release, last year the U.S. collected $331 million in tariffs on imports of $2.2 billion from Bangladesh (per capita GDP $370). From France (per capita GDP $24,000) the U.S. collected about the same amount in tariffs, $330 million, on imports 15 times larger, $30 billion. Free trade would have been fairer.

As others see us. Peter Temes describes the University of Illinois at Chicago’s architecture and its teacher-education program in differing terms in his new book, Against School Reform (And in Praise of Great Teaching): “UIC is the classic urban public college. Its campus architecture holds all the warmth of a state prison….At UIC, gaining full standing as an education major takes two years, and many who plan to major in education don’t make the cut….UIC’s great achievement is to create a path of aspiration and accomplishment on its own campus that attracts the best and brightest students to education.”

A blip, or the beginning of a new era? Chicago Metropolis 2020’s 2002 Metropolis Index reports that after a decade of rising incomes, the average income of a family of four in the poorest fifth of our region’s population actually dropped between 1999 and 2000.