Local

9:32 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Detroit kids go to camp to do things they can't do in the city

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I spent this past Monday with about 100 elementary school students at Camp Burt Shurly, a 250-acre campground near Chelsea. The week-long, overnight camp is run by the Detroit Public School district.
This week on State of Opportunity, we're going to summer camp! I spent this past Monday with about 100 elementary school students at Camp Burt Shurly, a 250-acre campground near Chelsea. The week-long, overnight camp is run by the Detroit Public School district. Each Sunday a new set of campers arrives by bus.
9:59 am
Tue July 22, 2014

How does Michigan stack up when it comes to child well-being? Are you sure you want to know?

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If it seems like these reports are always coming out, well, that's partly true. The sheer number of indicators to analyze means that reports trickle out throughout the year.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation looks at statistics that should tell us something about how kids are faring across the country and in Michigan. The foundation looks at things like poverty, teen pregnancy and health insurance coverage to name a few. If it seems like these reports are always coming out, well, that's partly true.
11:58 am
Wed July 16, 2014

Teaching students how to switch between Black English and Standard English can help them get ahead

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Instead of using "right" and "wrong" to describe Standard American English versus African-American English, Craig’s model uses "formal" and "informal" designations, so there’s no judgment attached to either language.
Last week we did a story about whether people judge others based on how they speak. (Spoiler alert: Yep, they do.)
6:32 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Plant your soul: The poetry of a Detroit elementary school

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All this year, producer Zak Rosen has been reporting on the first year of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School in Detroit. Whitney Walker is the office manager at school, which her daughter Zoe also attends. Whitney Walker is also a poet, and in this installment of the Boggs School series she offers a documentary poem about her transformative experience working at the school.
Whitney Walker has had a lot of jobs in her life. But she was never content until she landed at her current gig as the office manager at the James and
2:12 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Do your homework or hold down a job? How about both.

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Jennifer Guerra visits a Catholic High School using an apprenticeship model to give their students a competitive advantage.
School is almost over for the year, and one Detroit high school has lots to celebrate. The entire graduating class has been accepted to college. Nearly all
11:49 am
Wed May 7, 2014

How one teen escaped gang life in Detroit

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Jennifer Guerra from the State of Opportunity team talks to one young man who says advice from his mom and hope for his brothers made a difference in his decision to leave gang life behind.
Gang life is a reality for a lot of kids who live in poor neighborhoods. There are parts of Detroit, for example, where gangs run the blocks. Here's the
12:28 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

The video of a happy kid makes one reporter a little sad

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State of Opportunity Reporter Dustin Dwyer shares his thoughts on why a viral video of hockey player Jordin Tootoo giving his stick away to an eagerly awaiting kid makes him sad. It has to do with the young woman in the upper right part of the frame.
It's 16 seconds of condensed, unadulterated joy. The boy stands on a bench, as hockey player Jordin Tootoo approaches, headed for the locker room. "Tootoo!
2:51 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

State of Opportunity documentary: Growing up in poverty and pollution

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At 3:00 p.m today you can tune into Lester Graham's documentary, "Growing up in poverty and pollution," produced for State of Opportunity. Or, you can listen to the compelling stories these families anytime over at State of Opportunity.
In Michigan, thousands of kids suffer with diseases that are worsened by poverty and pollution. It's a combination that's costing society far more than
9:57 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Too many foster kids eligible for health care rely on "prayer insurance"

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State of Opportunity's new service, Infowire, looks at why so many young people who've aged out of foster care don't know they're eligible for health care. Foster care advocates are trying to get the word out. Do you know a young person who needs this information? Send them over to State of Opportunity and get them hooked up with the Infowire.
If you aged out of the foster care system you can get free health insurance until age 26.
9:16 am
Wed April 16, 2014

New State of Opportunity series featuring "One Person Who Cared"

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"Beating the odds doesn't just happen." In the two years since Dustin Dwyer's been reporting for the State of Opportunity project, he's finding breaking the cycle of poverty involves more than luck. We're starting a series on people who've broken the cycle and the person who helped them get ahead. Today, Dustin speaks with Jamie Alexander, a social worker who credits her grandparents with letting her know that "not going to school was not an option."
7 million: the number of grandparents whose grandchildren younger than 18 were living with them in 2010.Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey
8:49 am
Wed April 9, 2014

What is "inclusive education" and who benefits from it?

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We've been calling this story, State of Opportunity meets StoryCorps. Get ready to be moved. Meet Bentley. He's a rambunctious five-year-old at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. Zak Rosen and filmmaker Andrea Claire Maio continue our series on the school and its students. In part five of the series, hear how everyone benefits from inclusive education.
“The kids are learning that you take care of one another and they’re learning how to do that in a respectful way. And that’s a powerful thing." - Julia Putnam, Principal of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School
3:03 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

Is three company when it comes to co-parenting?

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According to NPR's Gabrielle Emanuel, it's possible for a child to have more than two legal parents in about 10 states. Michigan isn't one of them. State of Opportunity takes a look at what it means legally for more than one adult--straight or same-sex--to parent a child in our state.
Listen to the original story for a nationwide take on the number of legal parents a child is allowed. http://goo.gl/jnWQ2F
10:12 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Early childhood home visiting programs and precarious funding options

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New parents are seeing the benefits of having social workers and health care professionals come to their homes to offer hands-on lessons in early childhood development. But what happens when funding for these programs dries up? This week, on State of Opportunity, Dustin Dwyer takes a closer look at infant and early childhood home visiting programs in Michigan.
"It’s been a real learning curve for us to be able to really figure it out and understand and to be very strategic about maximizing what we can accomplish with the funding.” Nancy Peeler, Child Health Care Unit, Michigan Department of Community Health
9:15 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Spies, chemical weapons, and zombies in West Michigan?

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From the mouths of babes – or more like from the imagination of kids dreaming up the next big software application: Dustin Dwyer and State of Opportunity spent the afternoon listening to teens from the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology's after-school program. They presented their ideas to software industry and community professionals in Grand Rapids.
"It is really trying to create as much as we can the experience – a learning experience – but also the experience of interacting with a client and building a project and what a real-life experience would be like for the young people in the class to work in this field." Samuel Bowles, VP, Mutually Human
9:52 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Is social mobility a thing of the past?

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One of State of Opportunity's most popular posts is "Five facts about achieving the American Dream" (http://goo.gl/1BAxma). Dustin Dwyer looks at inequality and why it's difficult for children to escape the cycle of poverty. We're revisiting this post with another look at what the research says about whether the American dream can be revived. Spoiler alert: It's going to to take a lot more than individual will.
A growing body of research, published just in the past two years, shows remarkably little change in opportunity across countries and across time.
9:17 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Warm up with Issues & Ale tonight!

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Our wintery weather continues, but that shouldn't stop you from coming out to our Issues & Ale event in Grand Rapids this evening. We'll be asking you and our panelists, "What can we do to close the digital divide in education?" State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer will moderate this conversation with educational technologists Kim Dabbs of the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology, Hilary Goldmann of the International Society for Technology in Education, and Anne Thorp of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. This event kicks off the Michigan Association of Computers in Learning conference, so there will be plenty of knowledgeable and concerned educators in the audience. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. at Founders Brewery in the Centennial Room (2nd floor). Come warm up with challenging conversation about creating equitable access to the tools our kids need to succeed in the 21st century.
Do all kids have the access to classroom technologies that they need to be digitally literate and tech-ready?
1:22 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

What's your "return on engagement?"

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On the State of Opportunity blog, we're gearing up for Michigan Radio's Spring Challenge by featuring our most popular posts. We think of this as showing our supporters a "return on engagement." Here's how we're using your contributions to tell the stories of Michigan's most vulnerable population: children living in poverty.
We’re going to revisit some of our most popular posts during the Spring Challenge. You’re invited to listen again with "Outtakes," "Think Again" by reviewing a collection of posts on a popular theme, check out the Whiteboard for provocative discussion questions, and revisit "Ideas & Stuff" – the research that informs our stories and documentaries.
10:35 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Proposed law seeks better training and effective evaluations for Michigan teachers

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What's the point of evaluating teachers and then not providing constructive feedback for improvements? That's the challenge legislators are tackling with changes to Michigan's teacher evaluation law. State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer sat in on a teacher development session in Grand Rapids to find out which new techniques are being used to coach educators more effectively.
What's the point of evaluating teachers and then not providing constructive feedback for improvements?
2:22 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Movie review: foster care depicted on film in Short Term 12

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The culture and ideas that surround issues of kids and well-being are just as important to the public discussion as the daily realities. Head over to State of Opportunity for a review of Short Term 12, a feature film about at-risk kids in a care home and the adults that try to teach them how to cope. It's just out on DVD, at your public library, Netflix, etc.
Destin Daniel Cretton's film Short Term 12 (2013) does a great job of delving into the issues of trust, confidentiality, and uncertainty children face when removed from parental care and entrusted to other adults.
9:47 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Relatives trying to cope with the child welfare system lack representation

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There's one attorney for every 21,000 low-income Michigan citizens. That's according to the Michigan Bar Association. And that lack of representation hits hard for relatives of children in the foster care system. State of Opportunity's Sarah Alvarez has been following the case of Vanessa Moss, a grandmother struggling financially to take care of four children. Faced with their removal from her home, where do people without resources turn for legal representation?
For every one of the 13,000 kids, there is a specific story behind what landed them in foster care in the first place or how their life will unfold afterward. The same can be said of their parents or the adults who stand in for parents. Many of these adults can feel just as trapped in the system as the children.

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