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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Lamanda Coulter

In 2010, one out of three kids in this country lived in a house where neither parent had full-time, year-round work. That new figure comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count report.

It shows one of the uncomfortable truths of the Great Recession: that kids were among the hardest hit. 

Ronnie Coulter can’t tell you much about the recession. 


Last week, the Michigan Department of Education released its first state-wide report card on school progress since the state won a new waiver on requirements No Child Left Behind law. 

If you haven't been following the news, you might wonder why Michigan needed a waiver from No Child Left Behind in the first place. There are lots of reasons, really. But the most basic reason has to do with a requirement at the core of the act.  

John Escovedo / Flickr

I've gotten dozens of press releases in the past few days dealing with the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts.

And while I'm not keeping up with every blow-by-blow in the political death match over Congressional spending, I am trying to figure out how families who struggle to make ends meet are going to fare under some of these dueling policies.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

What if we told you there was a man in Harlem who thinks he's figured out how to break the cycle of poverty?

You'd probably want to meet him, right? We sure did.

user wax115 / morgueFILE

Got milk?

Breast milk, to be specific.

Beginning next month, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (of soda ban fame) is now making the push for mothers to ditch infant formula and use breast milk instead. The New York Post reports:

Brennan Schnell / Flickr

A video making its way around the web right now is a powerful demonstration of what a toll it takes - even on very successful people - to come out of difficult circumstances.

There are plenty of statistics on this site showing it's really hard for kids born without economic opportunity to get ahead. But rapper Lupe Fiasco shows what an emotional toll that lack of opportunity can take on people - even people who beat the odds and find success. 

graphic from "Achievement Growth: International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance

Tonight, millions of Americans will tune into the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics, eagerly waiting to see whether the U.S. will resume its dominance in the race for gold.

If only we did so well in the race to educate our kids. 

the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count Data Book

The Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual Kids Count Data Book is one of the best resources for tracking how our kids are doing in the U.S., and for tracking how different states stack up. 

The latest Data Book was released yesterday, and Michigan Radio's Kate Wells reports the numbers were pretty bad for Michigan. Jane Zehnder-Merrell, of the Michigan League for Human Services told Wells: 

woman in cap and gown
Schlüsselbein2007 / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

We've been taking a look at what research can tell us about getting ahead in America. Last week, we brought you "Five facts about achieving the American Dream." This week, we're keeping the format, but changing the focus. Here's our list of five ways to improve opportunity for disadvantaged kids:

1. Start in the home.

So let’s meet Angela Ducket, and her daughter, Aurora.

Join us for Issues & Ale: Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead. Michigan Radio's Jennifer White will host this discussion exploring these questions, as we look to define the problem of poverty in Michigan. This is the first community event in Michigan Radio’s “State of Opportunity” project.