The Fox River is better off without any dam impoundments. According to data collected by the Illinois Natural History Survey during 2002-’03 and reported in the winter issue of its newsletter, areas behind the river’s dams “contain less diverse and more [pollution-]tolerant invertebrate and fish communities than free-flowing sites. Sport fish (smallmouth bass, walleye, and channel catfish) are less abundant in impoundments.” Since a flood took out part of the South Batavia dam in the fall of 2002, “the impoundment has become shallower and flow has greatly increased. Much of the fine sediment previously located in the upstream impoundment has been transported downstream and gravel bars are beginning to form at this site. The invertebrate community is beginning to respond to these changes, and a more diverse fish community was observed at this site during 2003.”

Conservatives won’t fix the schools because they’re cheap hypocrites. “The No Child Left Behind education reform legislation–supposedly the crown jewel of ‘compassionate conservatism’ and Karl Rove’s trump card with the key swing voter category of married women with children–would receive 27 percent less [under Bush’s fiscal 2005 budget] than Congress authorized as part of a new bargain in which underachieving schools accepted accountability for better results in exchange for getting the resources needed to make those results possible. The budget also proposes elimination of the ‘Even Start’ early childhood literacy initiative, despite a heavy focus on the importance of literacy training in the past by the president and the First Lady” (New Dem Daily, February 5).

Liberals won’t fix the schools because they’ve sold their principles for union endorsements. “To read and hear what leading liberals have to say about education…is to see vividly the collapse of the moral authority of liberalism because of too many compromises, conflicted interests, and a focus on affiliations rather than principles,” writes Andrew Rotherham of the Progressive Policy Institute in its online bulletin (February 9). “When the issue is not school spending, liberals, in no small part because of politics, too often end up siding with the adults [i.e., school employees] and not the kids. Simply being against what George W. Bush wants to do, focusing overwhelmingly on spending and criticizing NCLB [No Child Left Behind], testing, or any other reform does not constitute anything even remotely approximating a progressive agenda on education in an environment where literally millions of youngsters are habitually undereducated.”

“Don’t be afraid to take your kids to wakes or funerals, where the community of faith celebrates the life of the deceased and commends him or her to God’s care,” Catherine O’Connell-Cahill advises fellow parents in the Claretian newsletter “At Home With Our Faith” (March). “Don’t force them, of course, but let’s teach our kids that we take time out of our schedules when someone dies, and that it matters a lot whether you go to someone’s wake….Finally, refuse to participate in the cultural conspiracy of silence around death.”