Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Our story this week featured a family that struggled to get the best education for their special needs daughter. It took the help of a lawyer from the University of Michigan's Pediatric Advocacy Clinic to get the school district to agree to put the young girl in a general ed classroom instead of a self-contained classroom for severely disabled children.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Sometimes a family needs more out of a trip to the doctor than what a physician can provide. In those instances, an attorney might be what the doctor orders. It's called a medical-legal partnership, and there are 36 states that have them including one in Michigan that’s helped hundreds of low-income families over the past decade.

Hailee Rose is seven years old, with blond hair and a shy smile who loves math and spelling bees. She has a rare genetic disorder called 22Q, which can manifest itself in many different ways. In Hailee's case, it severely impacts her speech and language development.

Riccardo Bandlera

Many kids in foster care (as many as 1 in 5 but more on the numbers later) don't live with a foster family, but instead live in something called a "group home." It's a form of institutional or residential placement that I know from personal experience is NO place to grow up. The white, concrete walls resemble a jail cell more than a bedroom and there are rules against giving other people hugs. Yes, you read that correctly - not even hugs are allowed under the "no physical contact" rule that still exists in some group homes today. 

U.S. Department of Education

Last week I did a story about credit recovery and one high school's use of the online, after-school program to keep students at risk of failing "recover" credits to stay on track for graduation. But there's just one catch: we know next to nothing about these credit recovery programs.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

We do a lot of stories about what’s not working in education, but today we’re going to flip the script and talk about a school that’s doing really well, especially for students of color and economically disadvantaged students. It’s a rural school called Brimley Elementary in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Michael Rosenstein / flickr

I've learned a lot through my reporting on State of Opportunity, but the thing that really changed how I see almost every other issue is what I've learned about the effect of trauma on kids' brains (helpful backgrounder here for those of you wanting to know more). 

Up until a few years ago I'd missed this important work. I don't think I'm alone in that.

LBJ Library photo by Robert Knudsen

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon Johnson stood in the White House Rose Garden to announce a new program that would change the lives of millions of America's children. At the time, he called it "Project Head Start." 

"I believe that this is one of the most constructive, and one of the most sensible, and also one of the most exciting programs that this nation has ever undertaken," Johnson said of Head Start that morning. 

In the half-century since the announcement, millions of kids, and families, have received services through Head Start. The current annual cost of the program is nearing $10 billion. And yet there's huge disagreement even today about what Head Start has accomplished, or even should accomplish as its mission.

Brittany Bartkowiak

We just celebrated Mother's Day, and Father's Day is right around the corner. Lots of people look forward to these special days. But not everyone. For some, Mother’s and Father’s Day is not a happy holiday.

It’s one that can cause a lot of grief.

Andrea Claire Maio

  

It’s high school graduation season, and there’s lots to celebrate. Michigan’s four-year graduation rate is 79%, the highest it’s been in years.

But for students of color and students from low-income families, the rate is significantly lower. To bring those numbers up, some schools let students at risk of failing “recover” credits to stay on track for graduation. But are those methods as rigorous as they should be?


Battling obesity (and maybe Hot Cheetos) in Michigan schools

May 8, 2015
USAG-Humphreys / flickr

The number of obese preschool kids in Michigan is going down, that's the good news.

The health of older kids and adults, however, is not improving that way. Michigan is the 11th most overweight state in the country.

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