State of Opportunity

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter looked into children's first glimpse of classroom education-- preschool.

Dwyer reports that although early education can have a profound effect on the development of children, there aren't enough classes to go around.  Only about half of preschool-aged children attend classes.

He found one solution in Grand Rapids Public Schools, where preschools have extended classes into the summer.

Listen to Dwyer's story, in which parents, guardians and teachers of preschoolers speak about the benefits of summertime preschool and the challenges they face providing education opportunities for their children.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Lamanda Coulter

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter delved into one of the uncomfortable truths of the Great Recession: that kids were among the hardest hit.

He writes that in 2010, one out of three kids in this country lived in a house where neither parent had full-time, year-round work. He says the recession affected everyone in America, rich and poor. But some groups were hit worse: people with no college degree, African-Americans and children.

Click here to follow Dwyer as he interviews parents feeling the effects of unemployment.

Check back in to the State of Opportunity website to read and listen to new stories every week.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Lead in text: 
Last week, Dustin Dwyer from our State of Opportunity team showed us how upward mobility isn't so easy in the U.S., especially for disadvantaged kids. This week, Dustin shows us how some might break that pattern.
Education
Lead in text: 
Follow Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer into a dark and dingy room in the basement of the Institute for Social Research building, where he uncovers five facts that might surprise you about the American Dream.
Economy
State of Opportunity / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's new State of Opportunity project just capped off its busy launch week, and we want your feedback.

We are relying on you for insights, questions and story ideas to help us tell complicated and important stories about childhood poverty in Michigan. Maybe you have a question, comment or a story idea for the project? We'd like to hear it. 

You can always comment on our Facebook page, but you can also connect with us in a deeper way by sharing your insight here. We promise to read all your comments and follow up as needed.

Visit the State of Opportunity website to see what some readers and listeners are already saying.

Most of what people think they know about what poor people look like and what their problems are is clouded by stereotypes.

I met a group of young journalists in Midtown Detroit looking to paint a more accurate version of what life in a low-income community is really like. They write for a project called “Our life in the D.” Most of them are in high school and from neighborhoods in Detroit that don’t attract much money or attention.

State of Opportunity live show
Logan Chadde / Michigan Radio

Today, Michigan Radio's new State of Opportunity project aired the first of many live call-in shows and documentaries. 

Many little things can conspire to keep people from climbing out of poverty.

Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity project takes of look at some of them in his report, When Working Hard Doesn't Necessarily Get You Out of Poverty.

He writes, “life is hard for people in poverty. But, … you still have no idea what it’s like to live with poverty day after day.”

Here are three things that the average middle class person probably doesn’t worry about.

  1. "If you’ve got a college degree, and you’re on salary, would taking your daughter to school really be a major factor in losing your job?" It was for the father Dustin Dwyer spoke to in his story.
  2. Losing your kids to the foster care system, not because you do horrible things, but because you don’t have the resources.  University of Michigan law professor Vivek Sankaran says that happens more often than you'd think.
  3. Not being able to pay your parking tickets and losing your license.

Nearly a quarter of all kids in Michigan live in poverty. We want to believe these kids have an equal shot at success in life, but there’s a pile of research that suggests otherwise.

U.S Embassy Manila, Phillipines / flickr

Preschool matters a lot. Particularly for low income kids. In Michigan, low income students with one year of preschool were found to do better in school than other low income kids, and positive effects of that early education were seen all the way through 12th grade.

Those results are from a 14-year study of 500 Michigan children. The study is part of a recent evaluation of the state Great Start Readiness Program.

Pages