WUOMFM

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

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.

Here's a bit more information to help explain yesterday's story Five facts about achieving the American Dream. We've gotten some comments from listeners about how to interpret our five facts, and one of the biggest areas of confusion concerns the distinction between "absolute" and "relative" measures economic mobility. 

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."

Today at 2p.m., Michigan Radio's Jenn White will host a live call-in show for State of Opportunity. You can call into the show at 866 255 2762. We'll also be taking comments on Twitter at @StateofOpp and on our Facebook page. Or, you can stay right here and join us for a live chat. 

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.

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