State of Opportunity

Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

State of Opportunity is a special project produced by Michigan Radio with major financial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The project features documentary reports, first-person storytelling, youth journalists, an online portal, and Michigan Radio’s Public Insight Network.

The goal is to expose the barriers children of low income families in Michigan face in achieving success.

user Mark Ramsay / flickr

Thousands of high school seniors this month will put on their caps and gowns, walk across a stage, and get their diplomas. Go graduates! 

But it also got me thinking about the countless students who, for various reasons, won't make it to graduation. For instance, students with emotional disabilities, who have some of the worst graduation rates in the country. Fewer than half graduate compared to a national average of around 80%.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Sometimes a family needs more out of a trip to the doctor than what a physician can provide. In those instances, an attorney might be what the doctor orders. It's called a medical-legal partnership, and there are 36 states that have them including one in Michigan that’s helped hundreds of low-income families over the past decade.

Hailee Rose is seven years old, with blond hair and a shy smile who loves math and spelling bees. She has a rare genetic disorder called 22Q, which can manifest itself in many different ways. In Hailee's case, it severely impacts her speech and language development.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

We do a lot of stories about what’s not working in education, but today we’re going to flip the script and talk about a school that’s doing really well, especially for students of color and economically disadvantaged students. It’s a rural school called Brimley Elementary in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Andrea Claire Maio

  

It’s high school graduation season, and there’s lots to celebrate. Michigan’s four-year graduation rate is 79%, the highest it’s been in years.

But for students of color and students from low-income families, the rate is significantly lower. To bring those numbers up, some schools let students at risk of failing “recover” credits to stay on track for graduation. But are those methods as rigorous as they should be?


Alan / flickr

High school graduations are about a month away. Orders for caps and gowns have been made, and party planning is well under way for many families. Around 10 percent of senior students in Michigan won't make it to that milestone this year, however, because they drop out of school.

Cody High School is on Detroit’s west side, in a neighborhood that struggles with blight, drugs and gangs.

KNIGHT: Everybody wants to be out the neighborhood, everybody do. But more people still stuck here than ever.

So how do you get out? Well, first you have to graduate high school. For students who are on the brink, that’s where this guy comes in. His name is Jimmie Knight:

Sarah Alvarez / Michigan Radio

This is part of an Infowire series about choices for young people who want to be successful but aren’t seeing that path through college, or in some cases, even traditional high school education. 

mootje mootje / flickr

The advocacy group Children's Rights sued the state of Michigan over its foster care system more than eight years ago because of the number of kids who were left with abusive families, or harmed once they got into foster care.

Hogan / flickr

"Up by your bootstraps," that ubiquitous phrase that has come to function basically as shorthand for the American Dream, first came onto the scene in 1834.  

Linguist Anne Curzan says at that point, it was basically an insult. It described somebody delusional enough to think they could defy the laws of physics and pull themselves up in the air by the very things anchoring them to the ground. 

You see it on your local TV news every few weeks. Or maybe a small article in the paper.

Another fire. Another bust. Another story about meth.

The statistics tell the rest of the story: Methamphetamine use and production is on the rise in Michigan.

And last year, more children were exposed to meth labs than at any time since the state started keeping track.

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