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A picture of Law Elementary, one of 38 schools in Michigan slated for possible closure.
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

What's the deal with Michigan's plan to close 38 schools?

You may have heard that the state is planning to close as many as 38 schools by this summer, the bulk of which are in Detroit. That’s a big deal for a whole lot of families, and so far, the state isn’t giving them much guidance about what to do. So let’s walk through where things stand.

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Update 5:48 p.m.

Detroit EMS officials now say an ambulance did respond to the scene where a 9-year old boy fell to his death Wednesday.

Detroit State Representative Rashida Tlaib, based on statements from witnesses, said no ambulance ever arrived at the scene of the tragedy.

But Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek says EMS officials dispute that.

EMS officials say an ambulance was indeed dispatched just one minute after a 911 all came in, but police beat the ambulance to the scene and decided to take the boy to the hospital, where he later died.

One of the authors of this op-ed worked for President Obama. The other worked for President George W. Bush. They both want to see more opportunity in America.

Pew Economic Mobility Project

Our State of Opportunity team is looking into ways disadvantaged children in Michigan can get ahead, and we're planning on bringing you many personal stories of families that are working to do just that. But for the next two weeks, we want to take a look at what research can tell us about getting ahead in America. Today, we have a list of five facts about the American Dream.

Before we get to our list of facts, I want to tell you about a dark and dingy room in the basement of the Institute for Social Research building at the University of Michigan.

Former Obama economic adviser Larry Summers writes in the Washington Post: "It is hard to see who could disagree with the aspiration to equalize opportunity, or fail to recognize the manifest inequalities in opportunity today."

State of Opportunity is capping off a busy launch week. We are relying on you for insights, questions and story ideas to help us tell these complicated and important stories. Maybe you have a question, comment or a story idea for the project? We'd like to hear it. 

You can always comment here on the website, or 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 of your comments and follow up as needed.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

What would it take so that all kids in Michigan have the chance to reach their full potential?

To help us find some answers, we're doing things a little bit differently.

Sure, we're talking to national experts and researchers about what does and does not work when it comes to overcoming poverty. But we're also spending time with real people who are struggling to get ahead.

Our goal is to follow several kids and families over the course of the three-year project to better understand what challenges they face, what resources are available, and where the gaps are. 

Here's a preview of one of the families we've been spending time with:

The Pew Economic Mobility Project is one of the best resources out there for understanding opportunity in America, and you'll be hearing about plenty of the Project's research on this site. 

Yesterday, the folks at Pew put out a new report on whether children in America are really able to do better than their parents. This comparison between your parents' economic status  and your own is a key component of understanding economic mobility, and it's at the heart of the American Dream. 

I don’t know you. I don’t know what your life is like. But if there is an average you, that is, an average NPR listener, I can guess that odds are, you are not poor.

At least, that’s what our audience research tells us. You’re educated; you’re well off.

It may not be true for you.

But if it is true, let’s assume two things: One, you already know life is hard for people in poverty. But, two, you still have no idea what it’s like to live with poverty day after day.

user Seattleye / Flickr

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

So, how is life different for kids growing up in poverty?

Let’s try to imagine the life of a child. We’ll call him Jacob.

As part of State of Opportunity, we are featuring stories on what it is like to grow up or raise kids in Michigan while struggling to pay the bills. There will be more of these stories to tell than we can find on our own. If you have a story you think needs telling, here are some resources to help you on your way.

The Public Insight Network is a way to inform news stories with experiences from your life. A reporter will follow up with you.

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