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Paulette Parker

Digital Journalist - Blogger

Paulette is a blogger for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously interned as a reporter in the Michigan Radio newsroom.

Before working at Michigan Radio, she was the news editor of The Washtenaw Voice at Washtenaw Community College. She has an associate degree in journalism from WCC. And she is currently a junior at Eastern Michigan University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in media studies and journalism.

When she isn't working she is spending time with her husband and two young daughters.

Turns out the Earned Income Tax Credit is one thing all administrations beginning with Reagan’s have agreed is a good idea. And it really works. Listen to those who literally sing its praises on npr.org.

Slate Magazine has a multi-faceted look at what happens when poor kids lack the resources---financial and advising support---that result in applying to selective colleges and universities. A Stanford/Harvard study cites, "10,000 or 20,000 of America’s brightest high-school graduates don’t go to a great college not because they can’t afford one but because they don’t realize they should apply." The report suggests changes in geographical recruiting practices and advising that can help high-achieving, low-income, often first generation, students set their sights higher. But once these kids reach college with the appropriate financial aid package, do their institutions provide the resources to keep them enrolled? By this, I don't mean academic resources, but does the school provide substantial financial aid for all four years of matriculation? Sometimes an alluring first-year of funding evaporates, leaving students to assume burdensome loans or take on part-time jobs that leave little energy for a great academic track record. The New York Times had a few stories last year about students who started from a position of disadvantage financially and simply couldn't make ends meet to stay enrolled. One example of strategies schools are using to see minority students through to graduation can be found in this NYT article http://goo.gl/fN5t8.

Barbara Ellen, columnist for The Observer (Guardian), asked readers this weekend, "Is this our new default setting – that the needy are greedy?" She references a new report by inter-denominational clergy titled, "The Lies We Tell Ourselves: ending comfortable myths about poverty." Ellen, and the report, challenges central myths about people living in poverty and how those ideas translate into public policy. Though the report is about the British context, what are the myths we have here in the U.S. about poverty and the people it impacts? Consider this a preview for where State of Opportunity may go as our coverage looks at the roots and consequences of poverty for kids. We're all clearly concerned, but how does that concern translate into impacting lives, public policy, and the media?

This story spotlights the University of Michigan School of Medicine's "Doctors of Tomorrow" program, which is designed to inspire minority high school students to pursue a career in medicine and take their skills back to their communities.

Since the 2012 election there's been more bipartisan movement on immigration policy than we've seen in a long time. Just this week, here in Michigan, the Secretary of State began issuing driver's licenses to immigrants who qualify for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. But perhaps lost in the discussion are the many immigrants who continue to achieve their citizenship dreams as the children of parents who are naturalized citizens. Photographer John Moore was at the federal courthouse in Manhattan this week to take portraits of some of the country's newest citizens, ranging in age from 5 to 41. Interestingly, Moore charged his assistant with recording not only the names of the kids, but also their parents' occupations. How will the lives of children living in poverty change with incremental shifts in immigration policy at the state and federal levels? It's something to ponder, but in the meantime, enjoy the faces of these new U.S. citizens.

Schools in Michigan have taken extraordinary steps in ensuring student safety since the Newtown tragedy. Over 30 schools in the state have shutdown schools for at least two days amidst fears of violence, student-led revolts, and doomsday predictions of a Mayan Apocalypse. Recently, a teenager at Millington High School was charged with a felony threat of terrorism charge for making threats against students and staff. Are these actions necessary or are school officials overreacting?

By now you might have heard about Newark Mayor Cory Booker's food stamp challenge. It all started on Twitter, where Booker engaged in a debate over the government's role in preventing hunger. The debate ended in Booker agreeing to live off of food stamps for one week, spending roughly $33 on food. This article praises Booker for his advocacy but cautions Americans and government officials not to lose sight of a more important goal: getting Americans out of poverty.

Today, Barbara Morrison is a computer security engineer with a six-figure income. But that wasn't always the case. Just a decade ago, Morrison was a single-mother reliant on welfare checks. In a new article for Forbes, Morrison reminisces on her life, showing readers just how challenging life on welfare can be.

Obesity rates among children have been on the rise for nearly 30 years. Today, almost a third of children are either overweight or obese. A change in the nutritional value of food served at schools seems to be reversing this trend, though. To learn about the impact this change has had on children across the country, read the article below.

In some reporting related to State of Opportunity's work, WBEZ in Chicago recently started a new series on their Front & Center program about the American dream. In this show, WBEZ explains why for so many people the American dream is just about getting by. To listen to the conversation, follow the link below.

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