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The [Monday] Papers

* "Did anyone just see Gary Busey grope Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney on the red carpet on E!? Talk about Darwin's waiting room," our very own Julia Gray writes in her Oscar roundup. If you didn't, you can catch up via the video.

* "What was that sound? It couldn't be fireworks could it? In the middle of February? Nope, it was the sound of Bears fans' heads exploding," writes our very own Jim Coffman in SportsMonday.

* "If the Straight Talk Express is rockin', don't come knockin,'" is just one of many slogans we've learned the McCain campaign is considering.

Today's Lesson
"New dropout-prevention and re-enrollment strategies to be launched today by Chicago Public Schools are based on what the district is calling groundbreaking data, but that assertion is being disputed by school watchdog groups," the Sun-Times reports.

One recent study shows that 44 percent of incoming freshmen in 2001 dropped out by senior year. Another study shows one predictor of those dropouts: 73 percent were "over age" when they entered high school.

School reform groups long critical of the school system's dramatic move under Mayor Daley to curtail social promotion and hold back students say they've been vindicated.

I tend to agree - and, in fact, the district has quietly eased its retention policy over the years after scoring public relations points by talking tough - but on the other hand, these students are clearly the most vulnerable and may not have made it anyway.

Still, holding students back in high school should be reserved for only the most necessary cases. Removing students from their social group likely does more harm than good.

Clout Class
"The youngest son of NBA legend Michael Jordan entered Whitney Young Magnet High last fall under a little-known loophole that gives principals of Chicago's elite-eight college prep schools wide-ranging discretion - on top of new powers they could get this week," the Sun-Times reports.

"Marcus Jordan was a junior-year transfer.

"That means he never had to sit through the freshman admission test that eighth-graders take for Chicago's college prep high schools. He was exempt from being judged by a mathematical formula involving tests, attendance and grades that is used by Young and seven other CPS college preps to decide freshmen admission.

"Instead, as a transfer, Marcus' fate was left up to the principal of Young, an academic and basketball powerhouse.

"'Transfers into selective-enrollment high schools are entirely principal discretion,' said CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn."

Whitney Young Principal Joyce Kenner put it this way: "[The Jordan family] has done a great deal for this city."

And this city has done a great deal for the Jordans. We made him rich and famous; rich and famous enough, in fact, to clout his kid into a magnet school.

Bonus Lesson
"Week after week, Cook County hospital chief Dr. Robert Simon painfully tells County Board members there's no waste and no frills in his bare-bones hospital operation," the Sun-Times reports.

"Yet, on weekends, Simon uses taxpayer money to drive his county-issued car 320-miles, roundtrip, to and from his family home."

At least someone still makes house calls.

Air Gary
"The city of Chicago, which opposes plans by the state of Illinois and the FAA to build a new commercial airport near Peotone in Will County, also has provided [the Gary, Indiana airport] about $2.1 million a year since 1995 to support airport operations and expansion," the Tribune reminds us this morning.

That's almost as much - $3 million - as the city's measly contribution to funding the CTA.

Foreclosure Fright
"The new buyers of a rundown graystone on the South Side showed up Jan. 9 to look at the house they won at a foreclosure auction. They took the plywood off the front door and went inside to make sure the utilities had been shut off. Then they called the police," the Tribune reported on Sunday.

"Sitting upright in the corner of a bedroom off the kitchen was a human skeleton in a red tracksuit. Next to him lay a dead dog. Neighbors told police the corpse was almost certainly Randy Johnson, a middle-age man who lived alone in the North Kenwood house.

"The cause of Johnson's death has not yet been determined, but it is just one of the mysteries about 4578 S. Oakenwald Ave. Somehow, Johnson's house was transferred three times to new owners without anyone noticing he was inside. It's a story involving forged deeds, a corrupt title company and a South Side family that has been under investigation for mortgage fraud."

Wilco Wonder
The Tribune would have been much better off posting the cool graphic of this that appeared in print instead of such a frustrating text version on its website, but the distillation of how Wilco played all 82 songs from its six albums over five nights is tres cool.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Be there.


Posted on February 25, 2008

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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