Most Chicago public high schools have accepted Mayor Daley’s offer of metal detectors–but that doesn’t mean they use them, report Elizabeth Crouch, Debra Williams, and Dan Weissmann in Catalyst (November). “Clemente High in West Town accepted the detectors–‘to stay on the mayor’s good side,’ says [local school] council chair Cindy Rodriguez–but didn’t set them up. ‘They’re in the basement somewhere,’ she adds. When the apparatus arrived at the school, Rodriguez explains, ‘I thought about it: There’s never been a shooting inside the school. By creating congestion outside the school in the morning, while kids waited to pass through metal detectors, we would just be making them targets for drive-by shootings.”

“The press and tube continue to treat American politics as though it involved two major political organizations offering discrete alternatives to the voter, when in fact our politics has been reduced to two increasingly minor parties–of similar views and with a common base of corporate financial support–from which average voters yearn to escape,” writes Sam Smith in the Progressive Review (October). “But is there truly a common ground for a new mainstream?” He thinks so, based in part on a sketch of a platform from a recent informal meeting of Greens and ex-Perotistas in Virginia, which called for “single payer healthcare administered by the state and local governments; opposition to out of state or out of district political contributions; term limits; initiative and referendum; performance based standards for high schools; action for clean water and clean air; improved regional transportation; replacement of personal property tax with energy taxes; a bottle bill; reducing crime through building families and improved education; required minimum recycled content in products; measures for the prevention of homelessness.”

Power trip. “Sometimes women come to us from areas you would not expect,” says Pamela Poynter, who handles domestic violence cases at the Legal Aid Bureau of United Charities, in the newsletter of the Chicago Area Foundation for Legal Services (Fall). “They have been isolated financially by their husbands. Their husbands do well, and have all the assets–the house, bank and stock accounts–hidden or only in his name, which is what abusers do.”

I knew that having four seasons must be good for something. Surprisingly, Northern Illinois University biologists Samuel Scheiner and Jose Rey-Benayas have found–in the words of Scientific American (November)–that “places where the temperature between summer and winter varies strongly have more species than do those areas blessed with relatively even seasons.”

“Judging has been in bad odor for quite some time in American culture,” writes Jean Bethke Elshtain, who will be teaching ethics at the University of Chicago starting in January, in First Things (October). “When I first began university teaching, in 1973, I taught a course called ‘Feminist Politics and Theory’…until I decided the tumult was too much to put up with semester after semester. One problem I encountered went like this. I had designed the course as a sustained exercise in assessing, and critically contrasting, competing feminist accounts of culture and politics. I asked my students to engage certain questions that presupposed their capacity for judgment: What sort of picture of the human condition is presented by this theorist? Could her prescription for change be implemented? How? What would the world look like if it were? And so on. But I ran into trouble straight-off for, in the eyes of many of my students, what I was supposed to be doing was condemning that big booming abstraction, Patriarchy, for fifty minutes three times a week. I was supposed to embrace, not criticize, feminist doctrines–all of them–even though the ideas of the radical separatist feminists scarcely comported with those of liberal feminists on many issues….Students sometimes showed up in my office bereft and troubled. One told me she had been a feminist since she was fourteen and didn’t need to hear feminism criticized. Another told me she was so ‘upset’ by my criticism of the text of a feminist who proposed test-tube reproduction and a world run by beneficent cyber-engineers, and so ‘shocked’ at my insistence that she respond to a series of questions asking her to sift, discriminate, and assess this text and others, that she had complained to, and sought refuge in, a support group at the women’s center.”

Not just a city thing. According to Peacing It Together: A Violence Prevention Resource for Illinois Schools, a 1993 youth risk behavior survey “showed that 44 percent of a random sample of Chicago public high school students reported being in a physical fight in the previous 12 months, as did 43 percent of non-Chicago public high-schoolers. Ten percent of both groups said they’d carried a weapon to school in the past month.

For once, the problem isn’t money. According to Healthbeat (October), published by the state Department of Public Health, women reporting incomes under $10,000 a year have mammograms at about the same rate (60-65 percent) as women with higher incomes, including those who make more than $35,000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.