Kate Wells

Arts, Culture & Education Reporter/Producer

Kate Wells is an award-winning reporter covering cultural arts, education, and general news for Michigan Radio. Her work has been featured on NPR’s Morning EditionAll Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, as well as on WNYC, Harvest Public Media, KUT (Austin Public Radio) and in the Texas Tribune.

Kate got her start as an intern with New Hampshire Public Radio before heading out to the Midwest, where she covered the presidential caucuses for Iowa Public Radio and won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for investigative journalism. She joined Michigan Radio in 2012. Kate enjoys hiking, the Muppets, and cake in all forms.   

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Education
3:16 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Teacher back at work after suspension for playing pro-gay song

(courtesy of KQED)

A Southeast Michigan teacher is back at work today  after the school suspended her for showing a pro-gay video in class.

The trouble started when Susan Johnson allowed a student to play the song “Same Love,” by the artist Mackelmore, in her South Lyon middle school class.

The student asked Johnson if he could play it, and Johnson says she inquired if there was any violence or profanity in the song. She gave him the okay when he told her it was clean. The song’s about supporting same-sex marriage, and includes the following lyrics:

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Politics & Government
11:49 am
Wed November 28, 2012

New bill would let adoption agencies pick parents on religious, moral grounds

Religious agencies say it protects them; opponents say it's discrimination
presto44 Morgue File

Michigan adoption agencies would be able to refuse to place kids with families who violate the agency's religious or moral convictions. 

That's under a new bill proposed in the state legislature.

Private agencies can already use faith-based principles when it comes to adoption, like not placing kids with homosexual parents.

But this bill would make it illegal to deny agencies funding or licenses because of their convictions.

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Health
11:29 am
Wed November 28, 2012

70 percent of women who get double mastectomies don't need them

70% of women who get double mastectomies don't need them
medindia.net

The statistics are scary: some 40,000 women are dying from breast cancer each year.

But some breast cancer survivors are getting double mastectomies they don't need, in the wrong belief it helps keep cancer from coming back.

That's according to a new University of Michigan study. For some survivors, the study says, the fear of cancer returning is so strong, they're getting risky surgeries for some false peace of mind.

If you've survived breast cancer, it can make medical sense to get that cancer-ridden breast removed.

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Health
2:07 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Money, ego, and meds: Why would UM doc sell out to hedge fund?

Dr. Sid Gilman of the University of Michigan
University of Michigan Health Systems

You're an 80-year-old famed neurologist at the University of Michigan. You're a giant in your field, with a list of honors and awards as long as your arm. You're such a big name in Alzheimer's research that major drug companies ask you to run their clinical trials.

And then you blow it all by giving secret information to a hedge fund investor in what the FBI and the SEC are calling most lucrative insider trading scheme ever. 

But, why?

The Money

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Economy
1:02 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

The income gap in Michigan: how other states compare

In Michigan, the poor are getting poorer, but the rich aren't getting that much richer
technico http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/801913

It seems like every time there's a new state-by-state report about poverty, Michigan gets bad marks.

But in a new study about income inequality, the state's doing better than you might expect.

Here's the good news: half of all states have bigger gaps than we do between their richest and their poorest people.

The bad news: that's because in Michigan, the rich aren't getting that much richer. This decade-long recession hitting the state means everybody, across the income scale, has a harder time.

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Arts & Culture
6:11 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Art world, meet East Lansing: could new museum change downtown?

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
Photo Courtesy of MSU News

East Lansing is your classic college town: a laid-back mix of beer, bongs and bookstores.  

But with the opening of a $45 million modern art museum, suddenly the international world is paying attention to "good 'ol Michigan State."

As Michigan Radio's Kate Wells reports, some locals like the attention more than others. 

For something right across from a Taco Bell, the Broad art museum sure smells like money.

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Arts & Culture
5:57 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

"The Spaceship" lands at MSU: $45 million art museum opens

A view of the planned Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum from the northwest. Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.
MSU News

Michigan State University opens its $45 million contemporary art museum this weekend.

But even the building's creators say they're not sure whether the community will like it.

Students already have a nickname for the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum: "the spaceship."

“"It looks pretty spacey,” says student Will Peltier, taking out his ear buds to remark on the building. “Kinda like something that NASA would create. It's like, real sharp looking."

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Education
12:43 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

The new model for struggling schools? With state backing, Ypsilanti and Willow Run merge

In choice between consolidation or state takeover, voters choose to merge districts
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Cash-strapped school districts, heads up: the state's hoping you'll take a page out of Ypsilanti's and Willow Run's book.

On Tuesday, voters approved what school reps (and even some students) say is a critical, if dramatic, step: consolidating districts.

It means big cuts and layoffs, but administrators desperately hope it'll also hit the reset button for two struggling communities. 

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Arts & Culture
1:55 am
Wed November 7, 2012

Ann Arbor votes down public art tax, new library

AADL Facebook

Voters in Ann Arbor rejected taxes for public art and a new downtown library. 

People feel like they already pay a lot of property taxes in Ann Arbor.  And while they’re proud of their reputation as a cultured community, they just weren't willing to tack on a couple new millages.

One would have paid for public art. The city's currently funding art installations out of the budget for capital projects. Even some city officials say it's a weird, inflexible system. 

And voters also turned down a $65 million rebuild of the downtown library.

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Education
5:59 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

ACLU's "right to read" lawsuit moving forward

The ACLU says the state knew about big problems, and didn't do enough to help
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

A Wayne County judge says the ACLU can move ahead with its lawsuit against Highland Park schools.

That suit claims children in Highland Park are being denied the "right to read," and that the state is ultimately responsible.  It's getting national attention for what could be wide repercussions. 

Lawyers for the ACLU say the state and the district knew about major problems, like less than 10 percent of Highland Park middle and elementary students testing at grade level in reading or math.  In reading alone, they're often four to eight grade levels behind.

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Environment & Science
5:50 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Planning the ultimate Lake Michigan trail

The 1,640 trail would stretch across four states
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

What's being billed as the Midwest version of the Appalachian trail (albeit a…flatter version) is the subject of a conference in Saugatuck next week.

Planners will discuss a multi-state, 16-hundred-mile trail route along Lake Michigan.

Representatives from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois say a lot of the needed trails and roads are already built or in the planning process.

What's missing are camp sites, access points, and marketing. Dave Lemberg is a geography professor at Western Michigan University. He’s also  the conference organizer. 

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Politics & Government
10:58 am
Thu November 1, 2012

New congressional maps have decided the race for you

Thanks to redistricting, most of Michigan's congressional races are already over
Lars Plougmann Creative Commons

The presidential candidates are fighting for every last vote between now and Tuesday. But it’s a totally different story if you’re a congressional candidate in Michigan.

Thanks to new district maps, almost every seat will be delivered on a silver platter. As Michigan Radio’s Kate Wells reports, it means this year, your vote matters a whole lot less.

You could see this as a good thing. Now voters don’t have to learn a lot of unneccesary information…like who the candidates are.

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Education
5:10 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Sorry, Harvard: UM gets most Fulbright awards

Fulbright recipient Emefah Loccoh with children in Togo, where she's studying HIV/AIDS. (Photo courtesy of Emefah Loccoh)
University of Michigan

How do you like them apples? Once again, the University of Michigan gets the nerd bragging rights for receiving more Fulbright Grants than any other school this year.

Forty Michigan students received the grants, a school record. Harvard’s in second with 31.

Besides the ego boost, Michiganders get to work in dozens of countries, researching everything from healthcare to Chinese sculpture.

Andrea Ubriel Goldner is studying landscape architecture in Morocco.

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Environment & Science
5:50 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Worried about fracking, citizens group sues the DNR

Steve Losher lives in Barry county, and he's worried. So worried, he and the rest of the citizens in the non-profit group called the Michigan Land Air Water Defense are suing the state. 

They're upset about what they believe could happen once the Department of Natural Resources auctions off the mineral rights to gaming areas in Barry and Allagen counties. It's a totally typical auction - the DNR does this kind of thing twice a year since about 1920. 

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Politics & Government
12:30 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Windstream customers have phone service back

AT&T says fewer people are using land lines these days.
flickr - photodu.de

Updated:  4:48 p.m.

A Windstream spokeswoman says service to all customers has been restored, as of 3:30 today.

Customers of the company lost their phone service this morning, after multiple problems that happened on the same day.

Spokeswoman Erin Ascione says first, a key computer card that controls phone service failed.  The company is looking into why.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu October 18, 2012

A year full of extreme weather hits home

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report here.

Here's one of those headlines that'll probably confirm your hunch:

Weather-wise, this January through September was the most extreme the country’s ever experienced, ever since we started keeping records. 

Let's just flip back through the 2012 calendar, shall we?

First, there was the winter-that-wasn't. Meteorologist Jeff Masters is based in Ann Arbor and is a big name in the weather-blog world.

"It started with the non-winter of 2012. It was one of the warmest Januarys and Februarys on record."

He says that warm winter led into a stormy spring, with a big tornado in March.

"Which ripped through Dexter, Michigan, causing a lot of damage there. And in addition, in March we had summer in March."

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Politics & Government
5:41 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Expanding Medicaid would save Michigan $1 billion over10 years, study finds

Michigan could save a billion dollars over 10 years by expanding Medicaid, according to a new study
user Laura4Smith Flickr

Over 10 years, Michigan could save a billion dollars and get more than 600,000 previously uninsured people health coverage.

That's the upside of expanding Medicaid in Michigan, according to a new study from the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation (CHRT) in Ann Arbor. 

The federal government can't force states to expand their programs, but they are offering big incentives: for 10 years, the feds will pick up 100% of the costs of covering newly-eligible Medicaid patients, as part of the Affordable Care Act. 

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Arts & Culture
1:52 pm
Fri October 12, 2012

Detroit's art scene gets a $4 million boost

The Detroit Children's Choir is one of 60 city arts organizations that will share the funding.
Photo Courtesy of the Detroit Children's Choir

From potters to puppeteers, there are some very relieved artists in Detroit this week.  More than 60 of the city's cultural groups are splitting a $4 million grant from the Kresge Foundation.

While four million bucks spread across 60 groups may not sound like a lot, it could actually be what keeps the lights on for some of them. Especially teeny groups, like the Detroit Children’s Choir.

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Education
3:57 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

Despite more school choice, Detroit parents still frustrated

A charter advocacy group gives Michigan's charter law a passing grade
Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Eighty percent of Detroit parents say they do not believe the city's public schools are the best choice for their child. But they’re split on the other options as well.

A new survey from the Detroit News and the Thompson Foundation asks Detroit parents how they feel about their school choices.

Only one in five parents picked DPS as the best for their kid. But even with the recent increase in school options - charter, private, public schools outside the city - none was a clear winner.

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Politics & Government
4:21 pm
Wed October 10, 2012

Election fraud and the case of the two John Scotts

This John Scott is the Republican commissioner of Oakland County. But there's another John Scott on this fall's ballot.
Oakland County Michigan

2012 just may go down as the year of election fraud in Michigan.  After scandals involving Jase Bolger and Thad McCotter, now it's the case of the two John Scotts.

The elder Scott is the Republican commissioner of Oakland County. He says this summer he heard about another John Scott, this one a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University college student,  who was gathering signatures to get on the ballot as an independent. 

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