Events that may never achieve federal sponsorship. As a counterweight to the “annual abuse of the constitution” known as the National Day of Prayer, members of the “community of reason,” including the American Humanist Association, are sponsoring a National Day of Reason on May 6, 2004 (

The threat of academic probation spurred improvements at some schools, according to a recent study of measures taken between 1999 and 2001 by the Chicago Board of Education, reports Elizabeth Duffrin in Catalyst Chicago (April). But the schools tended to be those that were already performing better. “Where staff could not figure out how to raise test scores, probation only demoralized them,” Duffrin writes, and “external partners,” such as nonprofits and local universities, weren’t much help. They failed to provide the focused, in-depth training that “teachers need to significantly change instruction.”

The building may need restoration, but the original supplier doesn’t. “While the interior [of the 78-year-old former Dempster Street el station in Skokie] is being gutted for new retail tenants, the exterior is being completely restored,” reports Laurie Petersen in “Focus” (May), newsletter of the Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “The historic storefronts are being rebuilt based on original drawings still in the Chicago Transit Authority’s possession. The Ludowici clay roof tiles have been ordered from the manufacturer, who is not only still in business but retains the receipt from the original job.”

Two billion a year–for what? The General Accounting Office (GAO-03-712T, thinks it would be good to know what we want Amtrak to do before we double its federal funding. “Clearly defined goals provide the foundation for making other decisions. For example, if reducing air and highway congestion were a goal, this may only be achievable in limited markets, because Amtrak’s market share decreases rapidly as travel time and distance increase.” Amtrak attracts many more passengers on runs where the travel time is about an hour (such as New York to Philadelphia) than on runs that last over five hours (such as Chicago to Saint Louis).

“The single largest state and local tax on business in Illinois is the property tax on business real property,” accounting for almost 44 percent of state and local business taxes in fiscal 2002, reports Ernst & Young in a March 26 report prepared for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. Surprisingly, “the corporate income tax accounts for less than 13 percent of all the state and local taxes imposed on business in Illinois.”

And so W.E.B. DuBois has “nothing to do” with white people? Jackie Taylor, founder and executive director of the Black Ensemble Theater, quoted in the Chicago Reporter (April): “In college, I studied Beckett, Ibsen and Chekhov, but it had nothing to do with me.”

Illinois is the only midwestern state with a higher percentage of college graduates and advanced degree holders than the U.S. average. The Illinois figure is 21.1 percent, compared to the U.S. figure of 20.3, and exceeding Indiana (15.6), Iowa (16.9), Michigan (17.3), and Wisconsin (17.7) (“Chicago Fed Letter,” February).

“No statue has been erected in memory of the [Haymarket] martyrs of Chicago in the city of Chicago,” writes Eduardo Galeano in The Book of Embraces, quoted by Lew Rosenbaum in his on-line “Chicago Labor & Arts Notes.” “May 1st is the only truly universal day of all humanity, the only day when all histories and all geographies, all languages and religions and cultures of the world coincide. But in the United States May 1st is a day like any other. On that day, people work normally and no one, or almost no one, remembers that the rights of the working class did not spring whole from the ear of a goat, or from the hand of God or the boss.”

By the numbers. According to an April study by the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, the percentage of Illinois residents who live in Chicago: 23. The percentage of released Illinois prison inmates who go to Chicago: 52.