State of Opportunity

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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Education
11:03 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Three little-known facts about charter schools in Michigan

University Prep Science Math Middle School in Detroit
Credit http://www.daymonjhartley.com/

 Today, on State of Opportunity, I report on a troubling fact of charter school expansion in Michigan: Some of the state's best charter schools are struggling to compete against low-performing charter schools. The reason, simply enough, is marketing. Low-performing schools can easily outspend high-performing schools on advertising and recruitment gimmicks. 

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Law
11:19 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Michigan locking up fewer kids, but is that good enough?

Mercedes Mejia Michigan Radio

Fewer teens and kids are incarcerated now in Michigan than fifteen years ago. A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation says youth incarceration in the state has dropped 44 percent since 1997.

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Education
10:54 am
Fri February 15, 2013

Stockbridge Series: Economic hardship makes college readiness mean something different

Technical and college prep courses are not mutually exclusive in Stockbridge.
Credit Logan Chadde

In the last piece in the Stockbridge series, State of Opportunity explores how the schools in Stockbridge, Michigan have in some ways a sad task in educating their youth.

Because Stockbridge is a rural village with very little economic opportunity, preparing kids to succeed often means preparing them to leave town.

Teachers and administrators at the high school there don't think it's enough to try to prepare their students for college. College is expensive, and though most of the kids will pursue higher education of one kind or another, paying for it can be tough. 

So teacher Duane Watson and a few others are heavily invested in technical education. Watson has three rooms he teaches in, to call them classrooms might give the wrong impression.  In one of them, the only desks are broken ones people hope his students will fix. 

The classroom is actually a garage and I was impressed three full cars could fit inside it before Watson corrected me.

“Four actually, and one compact utility tractor, a snowplow going on a truck, a completely student fabricated tandem-axle trailer, and an alternative fuel vehicle-a battery powered golf cart." He said as he laughed about the golf cart experiment.

This shop is part of a serious effort by Watson and the schools in Stockbridge to keep technical classes from slipping out of the curriculum, like they have at a lot of other places. Plenty of the equipment in the auto shop was donated by schools who shut their programs down.

Finish the story and listen to it and the work of the Stockbridge youth journalists at State of Opportunity.

Education
4:55 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

Stateside: State of Opportunity looks at Stockbridge

Autumn Blakeman is a Stockbridge parent.
Logan Chadde Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

All this week, Michigan Radio is airing a special series of reports exploring the schools and the educational opportunities in Stockbridge, Michigan.  It's part of the “State of Opportunity” project.

Stockbridge is a village about mid-way between Ann Arbor and Lansing.  Like so many towns and villages around Michigan, the economy has taken a beating, industry has gone, and the school system is one of the few ways kids from Stockbridge can get a leg up.
 
Cindy talked with Sarah Alvarez from the “State of Opportunity” team about what can be learned from this rural town, and its efforts to make sure its kids get a great education, even in the face of shrinking state aid and a tough economy.

The Stockbridge series of reports will air during Morning Edition and All Things Considered all this week.  This is a part of Michigan Radio’s “State of Opportunity” project, looking at ways to break the cycle of poverty and build opportunities for Michigan’s most disadvantaged children.

State of Opportunity is funded by a great from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

There are two ways you can podcast "Stateside with Cynthia Canty"

Education
7:00 am
Wed January 23, 2013

'We want the whole $140 million': The push for more early education funding

Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Clarification: We've updated the story to make the funding comparisons more clear.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Snyder called for $1.2 billion a year over the next ten years to address the “toughest single issue” of 2013: roads.

At the same time, Snyder called for an increase in funding to early childhood education.

The governor mentioned the 29,000 four-year-olds eligible for a spot in the state’s Great Start Readiness preschool program (GSRP).

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Economy
7:30 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Saving money and upward mobility go hand-in-hand

Monique Norton is saving money so she can provide a better life for her son, Jamar
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The amount of money you save can have a big impact on your child's life. 

State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra recently spoke with Erin Currier, director of the Pew Economic Mobility Project to learn more. According to Currier, a child is more likely to move up the income ladder when his/her parents are able to develop their own assets.

For 20 year-old Monique Norton, 2013 is all about developing her own assets. She's made it her New Year's resolution to save $4,000 by the summer. So far she's saved a little more than half.

Norton wants to use the money to provide a better life for her son, six-month old Jamar. For Norton, this means buying a decent used car and moving out of her mother's subsidized housing complex in Battle Creek.

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Education
9:00 am
Wed November 28, 2012

How a Nobel Prize-winning economist became an advocate for preschool

economist James Heckman
heckmanequation.org

There's a growing consensus that more needs to be done to prepare children for kindergarten. 

But does preschool really have a significant impact on the lives of children? State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer recently sat down with economist James Heckman to find out.

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Environment & Science
10:00 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Five things to know about early childhood brain development

A baby forms 700 neural connections per second in the first years of life
http://developingchild.harvard.edu Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

There's a lot of research that shows just how important the first few years of a child's life are to their cognitive development. But for those of us who aren't medical doctors the information can be rather confusing. 

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Health
10:00 am
Wed November 7, 2012

One woman's fight to end the cycle of poverty

A family photo of Keisha Johnson and her three children
Keisha Johnson

Economic mobility for Americans at the bottom of the income scale seems to be fading. Today more than 40 percent of children born into poverty stay in poverty as adults.

State of Opportunity's Jennifer Guerra profiles one woman trying hard to be on the right side of that statistic.

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Politics & Government
11:00 am
Wed October 31, 2012

What this election means for low-income families

Second-graders in Wayne County participate in mock-election
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

After months of political rancor and over $2 billion raised, the 2012 presidential race is almost over. Yet with only six days left until Election Day, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have largely ignored the issue of poverty.

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