Series and Documentaries

Alberto G. / Creative Commons

The MEAP test has been used to evaluate kids and schools in Michigan for over four and a half decades.

The test is meant to make sure public schools are teaching kids the basics. But MEAP scores affect where parents decide to send their kids, neighborhood housing prices, city tax revenue, and city services.

Basically, the economics of a city rests on how well 8 and 9-year-olds perform on this single test.

State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer spent six weeks inside Congress Elementary in Grand Rapids, a school with consistently low MEAP scores. Dwyer followed a third-grade class as they prepared to take the test. He interviewed students, teachers, and parents, trying to figure out how much these numbers matter. What he found was, the test scores do not even begin to tell the story.

To hear the documentary now and learn more, visit the State of Opportunity website. 

Lead in text: 
How are you preparing for the new year? Cleaning the house from top to bottom? Clearing out paper and files? Changing smoke alarm batteries (yes, you really should do that)? Whether you're working, relaxing, or pondering what 2014 holds, click through to State of Opportunity and catch up on our thought-provoking documentaries. 2013 saw us cover what race means to kids today, the gap in educational achievement in two local school districts, and how we as a society are defining manhood. Listen on the State of Opportunity website. Or download the podcasts from iTunes and listen while you take down those outdoor holidays lights. Listening to stimulating radio guarantees you'll wrap the lights carefully this year.
Education
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The documentary looks at religious views, transgender struggles, discriminatory laws, and anti gay-rights groups' concerns. You can listen to the full documentary below:

user: sylvar / Flickr

Part of the LGBT community is confusing to a lot of straight people and, really, some gay and lesbian people. The "T" in LGBT. Transgender people.

This piece includes the stories of two transgender women. Because their gender can cause confusion, Renee Knipe and Joanna Smith have struggled with things many people don't think about.

Knipe has been barred from using women's restrooms. Joanna Smith, who was once John Smith, is a father. 

John Klein Wilson / Michigan Radio

It’s something we don’t like to talk about, but cancer is all around us. It would be hard to find someone who hasn’t been touched by cancer - not just someone you know - but someone you love.

In Living with Cancer, a special one-hour documentary from Michigan Radio, we'll explore how much we really know about the connections between cancer and the chemicals in our environment.

We’ll meet both regular people and scientists trying to figure out if certain towns around Michigan are struggling with more cancer cases than other places because of current or past pollution. You'll hear about whether or not turning to the courts makes sense when it seems a company might to be blame for putting people at risk of cancer or other illnesses. Finally, we'll look at where we go from here. What do researchers know, and where are they looking next?

Listen live at 3pm on air on Michigan Radio or you can listen to the show at the audio links below:

2010 The Auto Crisis: Can Michigan Survive
The domestic auto industry is in crisis. In our special series from Nov/Dec 2008, Michigan Radio explored how the crisis happened, what it means for economy, what can be done about the problems, and what the crisis means for all of us. In 2010, we continued the series with new reports that evaluate the ongoing problems in the industry.

2010 Kennedy and the Peace Corps: Idealism on the Ground
Its critics called it "naive idealism." In the 1950s, the United States' answer to the global spread of Communism had been military strength and monetary aid to prop up nations friendly to the U.S., including dictators and other authoritarian governments. That changed late one chilly night on the campus of the University of Michigan when Democratic candidate for president, John F. Kennedy, challenged students to help the world. He called it the Peace Corps. In "Kennedy and the Peace Corps: Idealism on the Ground" you'll hear from some of the students who took on Kennedy's challenge and the White House staff who helped make it reality. 

2010 Muslims in Michigan
The Muslims in Michigan project was formed out a partnership between Michigan Radio and the University of Michigan Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies. This five part radio series examines life for Muslim people living in Michigan. Beyond religion, the series explores the cultural, political, ethnic, and social lives of this diverse group. This project also features film events, speakers, and a community conversation. 

2009 Back to School
As a new school year begins in Michigan lawmakers in Lansing continue to grapple with a huge budget deficit. It's certain that many school administrators are watching what's happening very closely as they try to plan their budgets for the next year, and maybe even more importantly the year after that. "Back To School" is a series of interviews by Charity Nebbe that looks at the current state of public education in Michigan.

2009 Facing the Mortgage Crisis
Michigan Radio aired the documentary "Facing the Mortgage Crisis," narrated by Christina Shockley. We also hosted a web chat with guest panelists Kent Spencer and Gloriane Wiley of the Wayne County Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Program. 

During the week of November 16-20, 2009, we aired American RadioWorks documentaries that explore how education during these hard times in America is central to economic opportunity and social mobility -- and to our individual and collective well-being. We also rebroadcasted Michigan Radio's "Facing the Mortgage Crisis."

2009 Generation Y
Over half of all Michigan's public university graduates leave the state within one year of graduation. Michigan Radio Intern Lauren Silverman will probably be one of them. However, according to many thinkers, young college graduates are the people Michigan needs most. Generation Y Michigan takes a look at why young adults are leaving or staying in Michigan. 

2009 The Health Care Debate
President Obama wants a health care overhaul in place by the end of the year. There's intense debate in Congress over what to do. Our series "The Health Care Debate" takes a look at different aspects of health care and insurance, with interviews by Christina Shockley.

2009 How We Got Here: The Decline of Newspapers
If you have a local newspaper subscription, it probably doesn't deliver what it once did. The series "How We Got Here: The Decline of Newspapers" takes a look at the uncertain situation of the newspaper industry.

2009 Mackinac Policy Conference
Michigan Radio provided special coverage from this year's Mackinac Policy Conference. Throughout the last week of May, we aired special reports on Michigan's economy and other topics discussed at the conference. "Hybrid Economy" was co-hosted by Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett and Michigan Public Radio Network Managing Editor Rick Pluta. The program examined how alternative energy is changing what powers our cars, homes, and jobs, and how it may be the key to Michigan's economic future.
 

2009 Michigan's Obesity Crisis
In the Michigan Radio series "Michigan's Obesity Crisis," Charity Nebbe looks into the state's obesity crisis. She will explore whether where we live matters, how food policies effect the problem, and how the problem effects us. 

2009 The Michigan Radio Picture Project
The Michigan Radio’s Picture Project is a forum for photographs that address Michigan people, places, events, and issues. We envision a broad mixture of photo essays that expand on stories featured on Michigan Radio as well as historical photographs, fine art photography, pictures from various archives and collections, and more -– all Michigan related. 

2009 Remaking Michigan
Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep was in Detroit the week of April 20-24, 2009, to take a look at the economic crisis that has hit the state. Throughout the week, NPR featured stories on Morning Edition about how we're adapting to the economic change. Michigan Radio aired a special one hour program called "Remaking Michigan" about how the state is trying to re-set itself economically. 

2009 Up North in a Down Economy
In the series "Up North in a Down Economy," Michigan Radio will look at how the recession is affecting small towns in northern Michigan. 

2008 Finding Our Bootstraps: Americans Deal with Recession
Since late 2007 America has been in an economic crisis. From a story about a family living on a beach, to a former GM employee looking to downsize his life, to a teenager weighing options for after high school, this one hour newscast compatible documentary explores how people are finding the strength and situations that get them through economic hard times by presenting personal stories and intimate portraits alongside contextual interviews and reports. 

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