11:13 am
Wed February 12, 2014

One unsurprising thing about student testing in Michigan: It's political

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The MEAP is out, but which standardized test will Michigan's students be taking next year? It's out of the control of educators and students and in the hands of the Michigan Department of Education. At stake? Million-dollar contracts to nonprofits developing and administering the test. State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer has a closer look.
One testing option was created with the help of a $176 million federal grant. Another option, created by a nonprofit company with more than $300 million in revenue reported in 2011 has a contract to administer its college readiness test to Michigan 11th graders. That contract has an estimated value of nearly $70 million.
10:27 am
Fri February 7, 2014

Michigan Senate fighting parole option for "juvenile lifers"

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State of Opportunity looks at why the State of Michigan is trying to find its way around a Supreme Court ruling declaring mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles unconstitutional.
The Michigan Senate will vote on Senate Bill 319 any day now.
12:39 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

How kids self-select out of technical careers

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Today in Tech & Opportunity, State of Opportunity asks educators and parents: what is your school doing to encourage students from all backgrounds to pursue educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math?
Two related blog posts on technology and opportunity worth highlighting this week, Tess Rinearson's "On Technical Entitlement" and Philip Guo's "On Technical Privilege."
3:03 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

State of Opportunity invites you to Think Again

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Think Again is the name of a new feature on our State of Opportunity blog. Maybe there are stories you missed that we think deserve your attention. Or perhaps there are new developments on issues impacting Michigan's kids. Click over to State of Opportunity and see what we're highlighting for your reconsideration. Today's topic: the discipline gap in school suspensions gets federal attention.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice have issued guidelines for educators, administrators, and lawmakers meant to improve the climate in schools by not singling out students---consciously or not---by race. Listen to what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has to say on what's driving this initiative.
8:56 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Stockbridge is closing its middle school. Could this happen to your school?

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State of Opportunity reporter Sarah Alvarez returned to Stockbridge, Mich., several months after completing a series on how the schools there are excelling in providing quality education for its students. Despite success at the pre-K, elementary, and high school levels, the middle school struggled with poor student performance. Now the decision's been made to close the middle school altogether. Sarah takes us back to Stockbridge to see what factors go into deciding to close a school. As it turns out, there's more than money involved, but that's a huge part of the problem to be solved.
"This is a sleeper community. Nobody's coming to Stockbridge. So, you have to have people that are committed to putting their kids first. I see a lot of that go on." - Chris Young, Stockbridge community member
2:38 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Is there more than one way for a child to be "gifted"?

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Every week on the State of Opportunity blog we have a feature called, "Ideas & Stuff." It's meant to give you some background into the research that informs our stories about helping Michigan kids get ahead. Today, Dustin Dwyer give us a peek into the studies he's been reading in preparation for a new documentary on high-stakes testing. The studies question whether there's a class bias in which kids are tracked into gifted and talented programs. Are children living in poverty recognized as gifted and put into the appropriate programs? Swing by our blog and see what the research says.
"Students from poverty have many gifts and talents that rarely manifest themselves in recognizable and traditionally valued behaviors…Conversely, middle-class students who know the names of all the space shuttles and every dinosaur, and can effectively articulate their ideas, are generally viewed as being very bright-and gifted." - National Association for Gifted Children
12:04 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Part of the Fifth Third Ballpark north of Grand Rapids is on fire

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The ball park is in Comstock Park, Michigan. This from MLive.
PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, MI -- Dispatchers are requesting a full fire response to Fifth Third Ballpark on a report of a fire inside one of the guest suites inside the stadium area. Arriving firefighters found "a heavy column of smoke" and flames showing from the outside of the suite just after 11 a.m.
10:56 am
Sat December 28, 2013

Catch up on State of Opportunity documentaries this weekend

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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.
1:09 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

One listener explains the social contract of helping one another

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None of the people State of Opportunity talked to about their good deeds want the focus to be on them. Instead, to a one, they just hope to inspire others, who are moved by stories they hear on the radio, to take action. Michael Mulvihill of Seattle is one of those people. He heard Dustin Dwyer's three-part series on gun violence in Muskegon on his local public radio station. Click through to the State of Opportunity website to find out what Mulvihill did when heard about Carmesha Rogers and her efforts to save three children from gun fire in her neighborhood.
Carmesha Rogers' selflessness in hustling three Muskegon children out of the range of gun fire was a story that Seattle Attorney Michael Mulvihill thought
11:50 am
Thu December 12, 2013

We Found This 20-Year-Old T-Shirt In Kenya. The Internet Found The Original Owner

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Planet Money published a story about used clothing trends. One T-shirt found in Kenya was originally made for a Michigan bat mitzvah in 1993.
We recently published a story about how used clothes that get donated in the U.S. often wind up for sale in markets in Africa. As part of the story, we published some photos of used T-shirts we found in a couple of markets in Kenya.
2:40 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

NPR's Don Gonyea wears his 'Detroit-ness' on his sleeve

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Sandra Svoboda of Deadline Detroit profiles one of our favorite NPR people! Gonyea worked out of WDET in Detroit prior to becoming an NPR correspondent. He remembers his work in Detroit fondly "It's where I had great, great years working as a journalist, it's where I learned how to be a journalist. The stories Detroit handed me to cover were just a never-ending stream of really great and rich stories."
WASHINGTON - His voice is familiar to Michigan public radio audiences who listened to his reports about the auto industry, labor unions, politics, Jack Kevorkian and other major news events during the 1980s and 1990s. Then, for nearly a decade beginning when George W.
1:09 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

U-M professor, Pulitzer Prize winner remembers the day Mandela was released from prison

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"I go to sleep early on Feb. 10, 1990, as the next day will be one of the most important historic days of my career." So wrote David Turnley, a University of Michigan professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. Turnley took photos on the day Nelson Mandela was released from prison. He tells his story to Time Magazine.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Turnley spent 28 years photographing South Africa's struggles of apartheid. Having documented the life of Nelson Mandela and his people, Turnley reflects for LightBox on his memories of Mandela on the day of his release from prison. I go to sleep early on Feb.
2:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

10,000 turkeys used to walk from Vermont to Boston

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Forget the great cattle drives in the Old West. I want to know more about the "great turkey drives" in the Old East. (This is one more for the "Thanksgiving story files.")
  • Source: Vpr
  • | Via: NPR Local Stories Project
Today, the term farm-to-table signifies the epitome of local food. But nearly 200 years ago, it meant something entirely different when Thanksgiving
9:18 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Putting the 'giving' in Thanksgiving for metro Detroit's kids

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Jennifer Guerra met up with kids and parents from Myers Elementary School as they made their way into New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne. There's more than turkey on the menu with smiles, hugs, and non-perishable household items going to help out the kids and their families---90% of whom are making their way below the poverty line. Myers' school motto is, "Be Respectful, Be Responsible and Be Safe," but State of Opportunity also learns how "be grateful" made it on the list, too.
New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne, Michigan is doing its part to help ensure that students from a nearby school don't go hungry this holiday season. "We just wanted to show some love," says Virgil Humes, the church's pastor. We want to "show them that we believe in helping the community, and those that might not have a thanksgiving meal, we wanted to show them that we can serve them a Thanksgiving meal so that certainly they won’t be hungry."
3:19 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

When his writing sounded like writing, he rewrote it

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The prolific author Elmore Leonard died yesterday, but his writing is still here. So are his rules on how to write well.
These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules.
3:00 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Bloomberg says 'avoiding the hard choices is how Detroit went bankrupt'

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked about Detroit once being an "economic powerhouse." He said there are some important lessons in Detroit's bankruptcy filing.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said every U.S. city needs to heed the lesson of Detroit's recent bankruptcy filing and urged cities to diversify their economies. 'Avoiding the hard choices is how Detroit went bankrupt. And it's the road to ruin for any city,' Bloomberg said in a speech today in New York.
9:16 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Detroit's pension fund was well-funded, but suddenly it wasn't

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Current methods for calculating the health of pension funds might be outdated. This post by Mary Williams Walsh explains why.
Until mid-June, there was one ray of hope in Detroit's gathering storm: For all the city's problems, its pension fund was in pretty good shape. If the city went under, its thousands of retired clerks, police officers, bus drivers and other workers would still be safe. Then came bad news.
11:32 am
Tue July 16, 2013

When it comes to the federal pool of money, Michigan is a giver, not a taker

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Michigan is a net giver when it comes to dollars leaving the state in federal taxes. According to the Economist, from 1990 to 2009, $1.23 trillion went out of the state in federal taxes, while $1.03 trillion in federal spending came into the state during that time frame.
  • Source: Economist
  • | Via: Michael Olson - American Public Media
Where federal taxes are raised and spentSOME American states receive more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes; others receive less. Over twenty years...
2:19 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

Detroit's emergency manager takes on pension funds

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Detroit's pension boards have been under investigation by the SEC and federal prosecutors. Now Kevyn Orr is ordering his own investigation.
In 2009, a Detroit Free Press investigation of Detroit's two public pensions found a history of failed investments, lavish worldwide travels by the trustees who ran the funds, and few ethics rules. The newspaper reported in 2011 that the funds had lost $470 million in risky investments since 2008.
1:05 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Want to know where to get the best burger in Michigan? These men did the research.

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John Gonzalez, David Kutzko, and Fritz Klug spent 6 days sampling 33 hamburgers to find the best of the best in Michigan. They revealed the winner this morning: Laura's Little Burger Joint in Decatur. A noteworthy finalist was Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor. Blimpy Burger, which took 10th place, will be closing at the end of August. Many locals hope that they will find a new location for sometime soon.
Does anyone remember the character Wimpy from the old Popeye cartoons? Well, he is best remembered for a healthy appetite for hamburgers, and his classic phrase: "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Well, today is Tuesday! And it's pay day, in a way: It's the day we announce the results of our Michigan's Best Burger search.