State of Opportunity

Families & Community
1:37 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

State of Opportunity has a new project and needs your tax stories

Credit R. Kurtz / flickr

We're getting ready for a new project here at State of Opportunity, and we're excited about it.

We'll take the experiences of families in towns and cities around the state and turn them into useful news – the kind of news that usually travels between two people when they talk about the way things really work.

Part of what makes this project work are stories and insights from you and the people you know. 

Right now, we're looking for stories about taxes.

Read more
Education
9:35 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Student and school prepare for a father's deportation

Charlie and his family
Credit facebook

Update: The office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued the following statement to Michigan Radio," After a thorough review of Mr. Sanchez-Ronquillo's case. The agency has granted a one-year Stay of Removal." We are updating our earlier story now. 

Charlie is seven years old, a second-grader at an Ann Arbor elementary school. Over the last week, his picture has been all over facebook. It's also on flyers and email as his church and parents at his school try to organize around his family.

Read the updated story at State of Opportunity.

 

Read or listen to the entire story at State of Opportunity.

Offbeat
5:29 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Michigan woman discusses employment, disabilities with President Obama

Leatrice Fullerton and her two kids.
Facebook

At the start of our State of Opportunity Project we spoke with Leatrice Fullerton, a single mother with two children.

She earned a master’s degree in social work, but had difficulty finding employment when we last spoke with her. Fullerton also faces the additional challenge of being blind. The good news is that she now has two part-time jobs. 

Today, Fullerton participated in a Google chat hosted by President Obama. She asked the president what his plans were for including people with disabilities in the work force. 

All Things Considered host Jennifer White spoke with Fullerton.

Education
2:26 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

State of Opportunity's hour on what it's really like in a "low-performing" school

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
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. 

Education
5:33 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

A quick preview of our documentary on high-stakes testing

Dustin Dwyer and Kimberly Springer from our State of Opportunity team share "five teasers" about the upcoming documentary on high-stakes testing. The documentary will air (and be online) this Thursday.

Here's one thing that Dwyer will explore in the documentary: How the "bad" label can harm a school in an otherwise wealthy district.

Read more
Education
1:23 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Today's State of Opportunity call-in show tackles standardized testing

Michigan students may have more rigorous performance expectations on MEAP and other standardized tests.
Alberto G. / Creative Commons

Update: If you missed the program, you can catch the audio on this post.

Do at-risk kids have more on the line when it comes to testing? Are low expectations playing a part in poor test performance? How does the Smarter Balance test compare to the MEAP?

Read more
1:09 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

One listener explains the social contract of helping one another

Lead in text: 
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
Culture
11:12 am
Wed December 18, 2013

A friendship starts after radio story touches Ann Arbor woman

Keisha had never had a real Christmas tree until she met Judy.
user myeyesinthemirror deviantart

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

One of the big reasons people pause in their lives and reach out to someone else is because they feel emotionally moved by someone's story.

That happened to an Ann Arbor woman after hearing the story of Keisha Johnson on Michigan Radio.

In her piece "Life on public assistance, a personal story," Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra introduces us to Johnson who is working hard to create a good home for her children - something Johnson didn't always have as a child.

Judy and her husband were getting ready for their day in their home. But they paused to hear the story: 

"After I heard that, I said to him, you know, something really is motivating me to try to meet this woman."

And so she did. Head on over to the State of Opportunity site to hear more about Keisha and Judy's friendship.

Education
8:17 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Here's what your name says about your future prospects

Credit Alan O'Rourke / Flickr

Researchers have done all kinds of experiments to learn how our names can impact perceptions. If the research is to be believed, for some people creating a new identity other than the one given at birth might be a good idea.

The University of Chicago Business School and the National Bureau of Economic Research, for example, conducted a study that compared responses to identical resumes. The only difference was that some resumes were from applicants with African American sounding names and others had White sounding names.

Read more
Education
2:15 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

How one Detroit charter school captured national attention — and what educators have to say about it

Teacher Danielle Johnson and Detroit Achievement Academy founder Kyle Smitley on the Ellen Degeneres show.
YouTube YouTube

This week on State of Opportunity, Sarah Alvarez is taking a look at some radical decisions that have shaped the educational landscape of Detroit schools.

Today, families in the city are taking a gamble on brand-new charter schools, like the Detroit Achievement Academy.

The academy opened earlier this year, by 28-year-old Kyle Smitley. Smitley is the first to admit she lacks formal educational experience. "I’ve been laughed out of so many rooms coming into the education world," she says.

But that hasn’t stopped the unconventional school from getting national buzz. Earlier this year, Smitley and the academy were featured on The Ellen Degeneres Show.

Still, the odds are stacked up against the academy and other charter schools that pop up in Detroit. There are more seats in Detroit schools than students. Many students in the city haven’t met benchmark requirements in their grade levels.

So what do educational experts think about these experimental schools? Check out Sarah’s piece for more. 

Education
10:49 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Does diversity make for better schools?

Coverage of desegregation in Detroit's public schools in the Detroit Free Press.
Credit clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

In short, the answer is 'we don't really know.'

Stanford University's Sean Reardon studies achievement gaps - the difference between how one group of students performs compared to another group.

When comparing black, white, and Latino students, Reardon says you see the importance not so much of race, but of class.

"Over the last 40 or so years, the black-white achievement gap and the Hispanic-white achievement gap have narrowed a lot," Reardon said. "On the other hand, the gap between high and low income students has increased quite dramatically."

Reardon said that particular gap has grown about 40% since the 1980s. 

But while economic diversity might matter more in ensuring a quality education, that doesn't mean people want to give up on racial and ethnic diversity.

Ray Litt, a community activist involved in Detroit's Milliken v. Bradley case, reflected, "The desegregation action was to provide a quality integrated venue in which students and staff are exposed to and can interact with kids of different races religions and economic status," he said. "We all need to be able to be comfortable, not tolerating, a society that is the melting pot."

Racial diversity is not something you are likely to find in a majority of Detroit's schools, even after a hard fought desegregation plan.

Read more and listen to the whole story at State of Opportunity.

Read more
Education
11:32 am
Mon November 11, 2013

A 'funnel district' forms in Ferndale as students exercise school choice

Funnels.
Credit dorena-wm / flickr

Every school day hundreds of kids from Detroit travel up Woodward and many other routes on their way to Ferndale’s schools. They don't need to move to go to these schools.

Ferndale has wooed Detroit students, exercising their ability to educate students from other districts under Michigan’s "schools of choice" policy.

The district has two high schools that cater almost exclusively to students from Detroit.

One of them, University High, has 426 students only seven of whom come from Ferndale.  

The school system has been called a "funnel district" because of traffic in and out of the district. Kids coming in from Detroit and some suburbs like Oak Park and Hazel Park make up one end of the funnel.

The other end of the funnel is made up of kids leaving Ferndale for suburbs a little farther out. 

You can learn more about how this got started and the financial and educational consequences of it on our State of Opportunity page.

This story is the first in our week-long series looking at how the neighborhood school and education in metro Detroit has changed over the past few decades.

Education
11:51 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Your plans for next week? Listen to our series on education in Detroit

Anti-busing demonstration in Detroit in 1976.
From the John and Leni Sinclair papers UM Bentley Historical Library

Next week, Sarah Alvarez from our State of Opportunity team will explore the long shadow of a busing and integration case 40 years ago, and the way the outcome fundamentally altered the notion of a neighborhood school for students in Detroit and many communities throughout the metro area.

Listen to an interview with Sarah Alvarez and our All Things Considered host, Jennifer White.

Check out this post by Kimberly Springer that shows how some Detroit parents were notified that their kids were going to be bused to another school.

The series “Abandoning the neighborhood school” will focus on these topics:

Read more
Education
11:49 am
Wed November 6, 2013

What kind of education do you get if you spend $12,000 per student?

Nathan Cohen teaches 5th grade at Pierce Elementary in Birmingham
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Our State of Opportunity team has been diving into the issue school funding over the past couple months.

The vast majority of Michigan K-12 schools get between $7,000 - $8,000 per pupil every year. But there are some schools that get more…a lot more. We're talking about roughly a $5,000 difference between the richest schools in the state and the poorest schools.

Read more
Education
10:32 am
Tue October 29, 2013

5 things to know about Michigan's education gap

Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Over at our State of Opportunity website, we've been on Gap Watch: achievement gaps, literacy gaps, technology gaps, gender gaps, etc.

Our latest documentary continues the trend.

It's called The Education Gap.

I hung out in two very different 5th grade classrooms over the course of a month and a half.

Read more
Education
10:54 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Talking about the effect of childhood trauma

Trauma as a kid can lead to health risks later in life.
user Laura4Smith Flickr

For State of Opportunity, reporter Zak Rosen explored how childhood trauma can lead to health problems later in life. 

In his story, he asks you to imagine this:

"Try to imagine this.  It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon.  Beautiful day. 

You’re hiking alone in the forest.  And then you hear some rustling leaves behind you. 

Your heart begins to pound.  You turn around to see a huge, snarling bear, staring directly at you. 

In this moment, your body is releasing a ton of hormones that will help you either fight the bear or run away. 

This is the body’s natural fight or flight response at work.

“If this happens once in a very long time, then that makes a lot of sense.  It’s life saving and it’s this big activation in your system,” says Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and the founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco.  

But what if that bear is an abusive parent?"

Listen to the story here

Education
11:23 am
Wed October 16, 2013

One school in Detroit uses discipline with meaning

The Boggs School uses discipline with purpose.
user BES Photos Flickr

If you were a teacher, what would you do if a second grader won’t quiet down during story time? What if a third grader wants to go home sick, but she’s not actually sick?  What if one of your students hits one of his classmates?  How would you handle that?

Zak Rosen is spending the year at the Boggs School in Detroit. In this piece for State of Opportunity, he explores how the school uses discipline in constructive and meaningful ways.

Read more
Education
9:50 am
Wed October 2, 2013

What is 'nature deficit disorder,' and how is one school fixing it?

Children at the CA Frost Environmental Sciences Academy in Grand Rapids.
Credit Sarah Huelett

Think back to when you were a kid, and how much time you spent playing outside. Maybe you wandered the neighborhood until the streetlights came on. Or built tree forts. Or explored a nearby field, or creek, or woods.

Now, think about the kids on your block – or in your house – and how much time you see them exploring the neighborhood. Without their cell phones.

Some advocates of unstructured outdoor play say far too few kids are doing that these days. They have a name for it: “nature deficit disorder,” and point to a growing body of research that links too much indoor time with problems including obesity, attention deficit disorder, and depression.

State of Opportunity checked in on one Grand Rapids school where kids don't just play outside, they learn from and in the natural environment. Read the rest of the story or listen in at State of Opportunity.

State of Opportunity
10:18 am
Thu July 25, 2013

State of Opportunity today: Be A Man

Dan Hornbeck said he was an easy target for bullies. Then he started martial arts.
Dustin Dwyer

Today at 3pm on Michigan Radio, our State of Opportunity team presents its latest documentary.

Dustin Dwyer takes a look at men in our society. It’s a story in six parts.

It features the voices of men and young men from River Rouge High School, a church in Grand Rapids, and a martial arts gym in Lansing.

It even takes us to the Davis Primate Center in California, where we learn about a species of ape where the females – not the males – are dominant.

Read more
Education
1:42 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Need some inspiration? Listen to these high schoolers

Ashley Parker, a graduating senior at J.W. Sexton High School.

State of Opportunity has a new storytelling booth that can easily go places and record lots of personal stories in one fell swoop. 

For its first trip I took the booth to J.W. Sexton High School in downtown Lansing. I wanted to catch the graduating class a few weeks before their big day.

There are stories of seeking asylum in America, learning how to control anger, what it feels like the moment a college acceptance letter comes in the mail, and wanting a second chance.

Read more

Pages