Dustin Dwyer


Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.

In 2010, Dustin left journalism to be a stay-at-home dad. Now that his daughter Irene is turning two, he's happy to be back at Michigan Radio, where there are far fewer temper-tantrums. 


Families & Community
3:38 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Read nice things about Detroit

Downtown Detroit
Credit flickr/sbeebe

Today is a big day in the bankruptcy proceedings for the city of Detroit.

Votes are due from creditors on whether to approve the city's restructuring plan. The Detroit Free Press reports the results of those votes should be made public in about 10 days. 

In the meantime, you can expect plenty of think-pieces reflecting on the anniversary of the bankruptcy filing, and what it all means. 

Aaron Foley, of Gawker Media, officially fired the starting pistol yesterday, with a piece that began: 

Get ready, folks! It's time for another progress report on America's most forlorn and depressed city, now even deeper in the throes of bankruptcy than ever before.

July 18 marks the day Detroit filed for bankruptcy, which means you'll likely be inundated with one-year anniversaries on the topic in the next week. The Freep's going to do it. The News is going to do it. Rumor has it you're going to read about it in The New York Times Sunday magazine this weekend. So we decided to get our analysis out a little early.

Foley's take is worth a read, if for no other reason than that he actually lives in Detroit, which is often not the case with other journalists writing about the city (ahem).

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Families & Community
12:44 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

See the maps from the 1930s that explain racial segregation in Michigan today

Screen grab from scan of a 1939 Home Owners' Loan Corporation map of Detroit.
Credit scan from urbanoasis.org

We know racial segregation exists in our communities. We know this segregation is rooted in history. And yet, sometimes we allow ourselves to believe that segregation is somehow a natural thing, that it happened all on its own. But segregation in the United States did not happen happen that way. The racial divisions we see in our neighborhoods today are the result of deliberate actions taken in the past. 

Those actions, rooted in racism, were carried out by both individuals and institutions. We don't have to guess at their origins. We have the documentation.

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Families & Community
11:15 am
Fri June 20, 2014

It's Friday. Here's a video of Detroit school children singing. Just because.

Credit screen grab from DAASDetroit YouTube channel

Because Detroit is still in bankruptcy. Because there could be a deal to get out, but nothing is guaranteed. Because even if there is a deal, life is still hard for too many Detroiters. Because infant mortality. Because schools.

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4:00 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

The day Michigan killed public schools (and then created the system we have today)

Credit KT KING (flickr.com/xtrah)

If you’re like me and you know just a little bit about the history of education in Michigan, you might already know that a lot of what we see in our schools can be traced back to reforms made in the 1990s under then-governor John Engler.

But what you may not know is that these education policies can actually be traced to events that happened in a single 24-hour period in the summer of 1993.

The story of how it happened is an example of how change – even momentous, tectonic change that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of people – can seem totally impossible right up until the moment it becomes inevitable.

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1:45 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

The case for why education can't solve the problems created by racist policies

Lead in text: 
This is a follow-up on the conversation about reparations, started by an article by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic a few weeks back. Many of us see educational opportunity as one of the ways to undo the ongoing economic injustice created by racist policies against African Americans in this country. But in this piece, sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom argues that even a college diploma isn't enough to equal the playing field.
In case you've been living under a rock, Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a thing at The Atlantic making the case for reparations. For some, reparations to African Americans for enslavement and state-sanctioned apartheid (more benignly known as "Jim Crow") is a shocking case to make.
1:11 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

I'm the reason states no longer offer generous college scholarship programs. Sorry about that.

Florida residents paid for this young idiot to go to college. They did not get their return on investment (because this idiot now lives in Michigan).
Credit Dustin Dwyer

I didn't pay to go to college. In fact, I made a profit from it. My scholarships covered all my expenses, and I had a few hundred bucks left over every semester. 

It was a pretty sweet deal. But I'm pretty sure I ruined it for everyone else. Sorry about that. 

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2:45 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Report says minorities make up 30 percent of the Michigan student population, but only eight percent of the teacher population

Lead in text: 
The Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, has a new analysis looking at whether teacher diversity matches the growing student diversity in American public schools. Spoiler alert: it does not. The report says while minorities now make up nearly half of the student population in America's schools, only 18 percent of teachers are minorities. In the report, Michigan scores a little better than average, but that's not saying a whole lot. The report's recommendations come from a left-of-center policy perspective, but the problems the report identifies should resonate regardless of your political persuasion.
A New State-by-State Analysis SOURCE: AP/Teach For America Delta Institute See also: "America's Leaky Pipeline for Teachers of Color: Getting More Teachers of Color into the Classroom" by Farah Z. Ahmad and Ulrich Boser Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF of this issue brief.
9:00 am
Wed April 30, 2014

From Kalamazoo, two artists full of Promise

Rogelio (Roy) Almaguer works on a new tattoo. He says attending Kendall College of Art and Design makes him a better tattoo artist. He hopes to one day own a shop where customers can get tattoos, screen-printed clothing and other original artwork.
Credit Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Since it began, 2,828 students in Kalamazoo have used the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship to help pay for college. 

This is the story of two of those students. 

Rogelio Almaguer and Raul Ortiz are both the first in their families to attend college. The two friends are now students at Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. They're using the Kalamazoo Promise to pursue not just a career, but a passion. 

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Families & Community
10:59 am
Fri April 25, 2014

Viral video of world's happiest kid makes me kinda sad

Credit screen grab from user griffvision on YouTube

It's 16 seconds of condensed, unadulterated joy. The boy stands on a bench, as hockey player Jordin Tootoo approaches, headed for the locker room. 

"Tootoo!" the boy shouts. 

Tootoo stops, and hands the boy his stick.

"It's all yours," he says. 

  "Yeaaaah!" the boy explodes. The camera zooms in on his face for the biggest, happiest grin you'll see all day. 

It's infectious and joyous and it's no surprise the video is going viral. 

But it also makes me kinda sad. 

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10:47 am
Mon April 21, 2014

CEO says Muskegon Heights district is $2 million in the hole to for-profit charter operator Mosaica Education

Lead in text: 
Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith has a big update this morning to her already award-winning coverage of the Muskegon Heights school district. If you haven't been following the story, Muskegon Heights was in such bad financial distress a few years ago, district officials took the unprecedented step of requesting a declaration of financial emergency from the state. The solution to the district's problems was to turn over operation of its schools to the for-profit charter company Mosaica Education. Smith has been documenting the bumpy transition ever since. The latest update comes from Mosaica CEO Mike Connelly, who tells Smith his company has poured millions into improving Muskegon Heights schools, but the district and the state have not come through on repayments.
The Muskegon Heights charter school district owes the company that's operating its schools a little more than $2 million. That's according to Mosaica