Dustin Dwyer

Reporter/Producer

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. 

Ways To Connect

hmm360/morguefile

If you want to make it in America, the standard advice is, go to college. People who get at least a bachelor's degree are more likely to be employed, they have higher wages on average, and they're more likely to make it out of poverty. 

But the benefit of a college degree may be reaching a plateau. 

Last week, The Hamilton Project (part of the Brookings Institution) held a conference on the future of work. The conference was meant to be about how technology may change employment opportunities in the years to come. But along the way, education came up again and again. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Temperatures are expected to dip below zero again tomorrow morning in parts of lower Michigan.

It’s been a long winter for all of us. But for those struggling to cover their heating bill, the frigid weather poses a much bigger risk.

Gabi Menashe / Flickr

The Michigan League for Public Policy released its latest Kids Count report this morning. The report tries to quantify how our state's children are doing, by breaking down dozens of indicators. My colleague Lindsey Smith has the scoop on the overall trends: some education indicators are improving, while poverty rates and neglect cases are on the rise.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

It’s a frigid Thursday morning in Jonesville, a small town southwest of Jackson. Bob Drake is trying his best not to make a mistake.

"It has to be exact from what you put on your taxes," Drake explains. 

Drake is a counselor at Jonesville High School. He’s helping a parent, Joy Sutton, fill out her son’s FAFSA.

"Yeah, it’s kind of finicky," Drake continues.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Here is a fact you might not know: In the decade between 2003 to 2013, no other state cut its spending on college scholarships as much as Michigan. Only six states had cuts at all. But Michigan cut the most. And it wasn’t even close.

The state-by-state comparison comes from a little-noticed annual report released by the National Association of State Student Grant & Aid Programs.

But the reason behind Michigan’s cut is well-known. 

Dustin Dwyer

We've mentioned here more than once that boys tend to trail girls in academic settings. Boys are also more likely to get in trouble, and more likely to commit crimes as adults.

Some have argued that the differences in outcomes we see for boys has to do with innate differences between boys and girls. We are told that boys are more active learners, that schools have become feminized in a way that hurts boys. 

But there is also substantial evidence that boys are simply raised with different expectations than girls, and these different expectations may be what's leading to different outcomes. 

Which leads me to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. In it, researchers tried to get to the bottom of one of the more well-documented differences between gender groups: That men are more likely to lie than women. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

 

Mark Jackson settles into his chair, and takes a sip of coffee. He’s been in interviews all morning, meeting with high school students and parents interested in enrolling at Wayne State University through the APEX program, which Jackson oversees.

Jackson tells me he’s worked in college academic advising for 35 “some-odd” years, at six different institutions.

And he loves the work.

“You know, we’re helping change the world here,” he says. “People think I say that tongue-in-cheek. No, I’ve seen it happen.”

 Jackson begins to tell me a story of a student he met in Chicago years ago.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog has a writeup of new research that shows nearly half of kids in one large study lived in "doubled up" households. That is, these kids lived in house with their mom and/or dad plus another family. The headline describes the high percentage of "doubled up" families as "shocking." But is it really?

flickr/cityyear

You may have noticed a paradigm shift lately in the thinking about what kids need to succeed in life. 

The old paradigm was all about reasoning and acquired knowledge. The new paradigm, which burst into the mainstream with Paul Tough's  hugely successful 2013 book, "How Children Succeed," is all about character skills such as perseverance, curiosity and - everyone's new favorite word - grit. 

Tough's book had an impact in part because it was highly readable and compelling. By contrast, a new research paper published today by the National Bureau of Economic Research is daunting, long and full of jargon. 

But this paper could still be very useful.

flickr/nasamarshall

Earth is a terrible place to grow up. 

Many of us know this intuitively, but there is also plenty of data on the subject. A report released by UNICEF today shows how bad things were for the world's children, just in the past year. A press release announcing the report declares that as many as 15 million children around the world were caught up in armed conflicts this year:

“This has been a devastating year for millions of children,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director. “Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves. Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”

Life was not nearly so brutal for children in the United States. But, for millions of kids, life still wasn't great. More than 7 million kids in the United States live in extreme poverty. About 1 in 8 American kids lives in a neighborhood with concentrated poverty. About 60 percent of kids in the U.S. are exposed to some type of violence each year. One in nine American girls, and 1 in 23 boys, will report being forced to have sex, before they even graduate high school. 

With such terrible conditions for children, even in developed parts of the world, many parents have to ask themselves: Is Earth even the right place to raise my children? Should I just raise them on Mars? 

Pages