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A house for sale in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Pushed Out: A documentary on housing in Grand Rapids

Don Norman settles into his chair, and pulls his blanket up to his chest. On the TV, Dick Van Dyke is about to solve a murder. The room is warm, shades drawn. It’s a good old house. A bit of plaster is coming off the ceiling in the corner, but the house is neat. Every shelf is filled with pictures of family. Don’s been here 40 years, he says. Ever since he and his wife got pushed out of their last home, when the hospital near them started an expansion and bulldozed their old block.

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Update: Census poverty numbers not horrible, just bad

Sep 12, 2012

The Census Bureau shared better than expected news this morning.

The Bureau released the numbers on how many Americans lived in poverty last year. It was expected these numbers would show more people live in poverty now than in the 1960s.

courtesy American Enterprise Institute

Charles Murray may not be a household name. But the libertarian author and commentator has had a major effect on our nation's approach to poverty. His ideas helped shape the landmark 1996 welfare reform act. He's also a figure of controversy, particularly for those on the left.

Michael Newman / flickr

Tomorrow the Census Bureau will release estimates on how many Americans were living in poverty during 2011. Back in July there were stories about how this report is likely to be seriously depressing.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Just when you thought the Republican and Democratic national conventions were over...

I'm here to talk about an event that took place behind the scenes at one of the conventions -- specifically the DNC in Charlotte, NC. Between all the speeches and sound bites and people in funny hats mugging for the camera, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation held a symposium in Charlotte, where they released a 47-page report on the profound achievement and opportunity gaps that African American males face.

The "Challenge the Status Quo" report looks at not only those factors that impede academic progress for black male students, but also what can be done about it. 

You can check out the full report here, which is packed with data and research from a wide range of studies. Meantime, here are a few highlights:

Education and the inequality of opportunity

Sep 7, 2012
SvobodalT / flickr

I’m new to State of Opportunity. Before I begin writing regular posts I want to tell you a little bit about myself. It isn’t very often that readers get a glimpse into the personal lives of reporters.

My personal narrative in part explains why issues like those we explore in State of Opportunity are so important.

I was raised in what is quickly becoming the typical American family. My mother provided for my sister and me through working as a secretary and monthly child support payments.

Next week, we're hoping to sit down for a chat with political scientist and author Charles Murray. For the unfamiliar, Murray is a conservative thinker whose writings on race, achievement and the family have been hugely influential and plenty controversial.

courtesy Melissa and Jeffrey Rice

The long, glorious summer is over for Michigan's kids. But the new school year does offer an opportunity for a fresh start

Today, we bring you a story of what that fresh start can look like from a kid's perspective. Leah Rice recently turned nine. Last year, she went through a difficult time with her family. Over the summer, we gave her an audio recorder. The story she tells on her own is different than the story you'd hear from the adults in her life. But Leah's story is a reminder of the importance of family, fun and the chance at a new beginning.  Click above to listen.  

Michael B. / flickr

Students from dozens of Michigan districts headed back to school today.

As students break out their No. 2 pencils and notebooks, parents might be interested in reading this new report about how schools across the country are being forced to make do with less money and fewer teachers.

We had several comments on my story this week about the disturbing disparity in infant mortality rates between African-Americans and whites in Michigan. A number of the comments took issue with the the claim that racism could be "a major cause" of the disparity. 

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