State of Opportunity

Education
11:03 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Three little-known facts about charter schools in Michigan

University Prep Science Math Middle School in Detroit
Credit http://www.daymonjhartley.com/

 Today, on State of Opportunity, I report on a troubling fact of charter school expansion in Michigan: Some of the state's best charter schools are struggling to compete against low-performing charter schools. The reason, simply enough, is marketing. Low-performing schools can easily outspend high-performing schools on advertising and recruitment gimmicks. 

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Law
11:19 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Michigan locking up fewer kids, but is that good enough?

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Fewer teens and kids are incarcerated now in Michigan than fifteen years ago. A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says youth incarceration in the state has dropped 44 percent since 1997.

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Education
10:54 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Stockbridge Series: Economic hardship makes college readiness mean something different

Technical and college prep courses are not mutually exclusive in Stockbridge.
Credit Logan Chadde

In the last piece in the Stockbridge series, State of Opportunity explores how the schools in Stockbridge, Michigan have in some ways a sad task in educating their youth.

Because Stockbridge is a rural village with very little economic opportunity, preparing kids to succeed often means preparing them to leave town.

Teachers and administrators at the high school there don't think it's enough to try to prepare their students for college. College is expensive, and though most of the kids will pursue higher education of one kind or another, paying for it can be tough. 

So teacher Duane Watson and a few others are heavily invested in technical education. Watson has three rooms he teaches in, to call them classrooms might give the wrong impression.  In one of them, the only desks are broken ones people hope his students will fix. 

The classroom is actually a garage and I was impressed three full cars could fit inside it before Watson corrected me.

“Four actually, and one compact utility tractor, a snowplow going on a truck, a completely student fabricated tandem-axle trailer, and an alternative fuel vehicle-a battery powered golf cart." He said as he laughed about the golf cart experiment.

This shop is part of a serious effort by Watson and the schools in Stockbridge to keep technical classes from slipping out of the curriculum, like they have at a lot of other places. Plenty of the equipment in the auto shop was donated by schools who shut their programs down.

Finish the story and listen to it and the work of the Stockbridge youth journalists at State of Opportunity.

Education
4:55 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Stateside: State of Opportunity looks at Stockbridge

Autumn Blakeman is a Stockbridge parent.
Logan Chadde Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

All this week, Michigan Radio is airing a special series of reports exploring the schools and the educational opportunities in Stockbridge, Michigan.  It's part of the “State of Opportunity” project.

Stockbridge is a village about mid-way between Ann Arbor and Lansing.  Like so many towns and villages around Michigan, the economy has taken a beating, industry has gone, and the school system is one of the few ways kids from Stockbridge can get a leg up.
 
Cindy talked with Sarah Alvarez from the “State of Opportunity” team about what can be learned from this rural town, and its efforts to make sure its kids get a great education, even in the face of shrinking state aid and a tough economy.

The Stockbridge series of reports will air during Morning Edition and All Things Considered all this week.  This is a part of Michigan Radio’s “State of Opportunity” project, looking at ways to break the cycle of poverty and build opportunities for Michigan’s most disadvantaged children.

State of Opportunity is funded by a great from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Education
7:00 am
Wed January 23, 2013

'We want the whole $140 million': The push for more early education funding

Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Clarification: We've updated the story to make the funding comparisons more clear.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Snyder called for $1.2 billion a year over the next ten years to address the “toughest single issue” of 2013: roads.

At the same time, Snyder called for an increase in funding to early childhood education.

The governor mentioned the 29,000 four-year-olds eligible for a spot in the state’s Great Start Readiness preschool program (GSRP).

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Economy
7:30 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Saving money and upward mobility go hand-in-hand

Monique Norton is saving money so she can provide a better life for her son, Jamar
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The amount of money you save can have a big impact on your child's life. 

State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra recently spoke with Erin Currier, director of the Pew Economic Mobility Project to learn more. According to Currier, a child is more likely to move up the income ladder when his/her parents are able to develop their own assets.

For 20 year-old Monique Norton, 2013 is all about developing her own assets. She's made it her New Year's resolution to save $4,000 by the summer. So far she's saved a little more than half.

Norton wants to use the money to provide a better life for her son, six-month old Jamar. For Norton, this means buying a decent used car and moving out of her mother's subsidized housing complex in Battle Creek.

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Education
9:00 am
Wed November 28, 2012

How a Nobel Prize-winning economist became an advocate for preschool

economist James Heckman
heckmanequation.org

There's a growing consensus that more needs to be done to prepare children for kindergarten. 

But does preschool really have a significant impact on the lives of children? State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer recently sat down with economist James Heckman to find out.

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Environment & Science
10:00 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Five things to know about early childhood brain development

A baby forms 700 neural connections per second in the first years of life
http://developingchild.harvard.edu Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

There's a lot of research that shows just how important the first few years of a child's life are to their cognitive development. But for those of us who aren't medical doctors the information can be rather confusing. 

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Health
10:00 am
Wed November 7, 2012

One woman's fight to end the cycle of poverty

A family photo of Keisha Johnson and her three children
Keisha Johnson

Economic mobility for Americans at the bottom of the income scale seems to be fading. Today more than 40 percent of children born into poverty stay in poverty as adults.

State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra profiles one woman trying hard to be on the right side of that statistic.

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Politics & Government
11:00 am
Wed October 31, 2012

What this election means for low-income families

Second-graders in Wayne County participate in mock-election
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

After months of political rancor and over $2 billion raised, the 2012 presidential race is almost over. Yet with only six days left until Election Day, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have largely ignored the issue of poverty.

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State of Opportunity
1:16 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

How to avoid burnout and help more people

Krista Nordberg, the Director of Advocacy for the Washtenaw County Health Plan.

Health insurance is such a political issue, talked about all the time and so dispassionately, that it can be easy to forget just how important it is to some families. But, last year the Census estimated paying for health care pushed at least 10 million Americans into poverty.

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Call-in show
10:53 am
Tue September 18, 2012

State of Opportunity: Special call-in show today at 2 p.m.

State of Opportunity Michigan Radio

Join us this afternoon at 2 p.m. for a special call-in show. We'll examine the disparities that exist in our society, and how they make it more difficult for children to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Michigan Radio reporters are working on a new three-year initiative to explore the issue of children living in poverty here Michigan. State of Opportunity captures the stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet. We’re going beyond the statistics and exploring what it takes to make Michigan a place where our every kid have a chance to build a positive future.

“Our project kind of has two ways at looking at these issues. We look at statistics, we look at data, and we look at trends. But then when we talk to the individuals, the individual stories don’t always match up with those trends,” reporter Dustin Dwyer said.

Reporter Jennifer Guerra is currently working on a documentary about the infant mortality rate in the state. She says the information she found was staggering. “Infant mortality is still a big problem in Michigan. We’re above the national average for the past twenty years,” she said.

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State of Opportunity
11:52 am
Tue September 11, 2012

Census to release poverty numbers showing America likely back at 1965 levels

About one in six Michigan children live in poverty. Economic mobility studies show these children will have a difficult time climbing out of poverty within their lifetime.
Michael Newman flickr

State of Opportunity is covering tomorrow's announcement of poverty estimates by the Census Bureau. The numbers will show how many Americans lived in poverty during 2011.

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State of Opportunity
11:18 am
Wed September 5, 2012

9-year-old Leah Rice is "Live from the kitchen!"

Leah Rice.
courtesy Melissa and Jeffrey Rice

Today, the State of Opportunity team turned their microphone over to 9-year-old Leah Rice.

She reflects on her family, highlights of her summer and her thoughts on going back to school.

(She was placed in an advanced class, to which she says "uh, Boo-yah!".)

You can hear Leah's story here.

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State of Opportunity
12:29 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

State of Opportunity: Michigan's most disturbing disparity

cheriejoyful Flickr

In Grand Rapids, African American infants are just slightly more likely to survive to their first birthday than infants born in the Gaza Strip. Six years ago, Grand Rapids had the worst infant mortality rate in the state. Today, it is sixth.

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State of Opportunity
10:36 am
Thu August 23, 2012

What it takes to raise successful kids

Fuscia Foot flickr

Having lots of money does not make somebody a better parent, but a child with wealthy parents is more likely to go to college, and more likely to have economic opportunity once they become an adult.

If you are a low-income parent and you want your kids to be successful, the numbers are not on your side.

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State of Opportunity
1:03 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

State of Opportunity: When funding dries up for programs that help kids

user CarbonNYC flickr

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter explores a pilot project in Michigan that helped kids and reduced state caseloads.

So why, he asks, is it ending?

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Health
10:42 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Why is lack of exercise the number one health concern for kids?

insipidlife flickr

Kids don't get enough exercise, and it's really bad for their heath. That's what many adults told a national survey. Lack of exercise was number one on the list of top-ten child health concerns according to the survey conducted by C. S. Mott Children's Hospital. Obesity and smoking rounded out the top three health concerns for kids.

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State of Opportunity
11:52 am
Wed August 15, 2012

State of Opportunity: Preschool in the summer

David Blair and his classmates listen to story time during a Grand Rapids Public Schools summer preschool class.
Dustin Dwyer Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter looked into children's first glimpse of classroom education-- preschool.

Dwyer reports that although early education can have a profound effect on the development of children, there aren't enough classes to go around.  Only about half of preschool-aged children attend classes.

He found one solution in Grand Rapids Public Schools, where preschools have extended classes into the summer.

Listen to Dwyer's story, in which parents, guardians and teachers of preschoolers speak about the benefits of summertime preschool and the challenges they face providing education opportunities for their children.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

State of Opportunity
11:39 am
Wed August 8, 2012

State of Opportunity: Even short-term parental joblessness can be a long-term problem for kids

Lamanda Coulter hopes her daughter Ronnie never remembers seeing her struggle
Lamanda Coulter

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter delved into one of the uncomfortable truths of the Great Recession: that kids were among the hardest hit.

He writes that in 2010, one out of three kids in this country lived in a house where neither parent had full-time, year-round work. He says the recession affected everyone in America, rich and poor. But some groups were hit worse: people with no college degree, African-Americans and children.

Click here to follow Dwyer as he interviews parents feeling the effects of unemployment.

Check back in to the State of Opportunity website to read and listen to new stories every week.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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