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preschool

GOVERNORTOMWOLF / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

One of the biggest obstacles for low-income and poor families: child care and preschool. It's hard to get a job or go to classes when you have a 2-year-old on your hip.

Amanda Hood and family
Courtesy of Amanda Hood

 

Among the hundreds of stories produced by the State of Opportunity team was one about a Hillsdale family, Amanda and Mike Hood, and their two young daughters.

Their story put a spotlight on the challenges low-income families face in finding affordable child care and preschool. 

Preschoolers
Seattle Parks / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

From kindergarten through high school, I attended schools with pretty racially diverse student populations. I've seen that same diversity reflected in the friendships I've maintained throughout my life.

And it turns out those interracial relationships may have actually helped my development.

Kids and teacher
U.S. Department of Education / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

State of Opportunity has reported on the importance of early childhood education time and time again.

Lucelia Ribeiro / Flickr Creative Commons

Many low-income, black, and Hispanic students start kindergarten without the academic skills they need to succeed.

Compared to their white peers, African American and Hispanic kids are anywhere from 9 to 10 months behind in math and 7 to 12 months behind in reading when they enter kindergarten.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

After last week's attacks in Paris, President Barack Obama condemned the terrorists and pledged support to France, saying: "We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the people of France need to respond." You can listen to his full remarks here:

Dustin Dwyer

Shortly before 10 a.m., the tall strangers in business suits arrive for their tour.

"Morning," says Denise Brown, who is not a stranger, and not in a suit. She leads this early childhood program at Campus Elementary in Grand Rapids. She's today's tour guide for the tall strangers in suits.

"Wow, I’m overwhelmed with 20 of you," Brown says. 

Two years ago, the state of Michigan made a major new investment in preschool. Since then, state funding to help four year olds attend preschool has more than doubled. About 14,000 more children now have access to preschool.

Many of the tall strangers on this tour were deeply involved in making that investment happen. But they're not done yet. And today's event is, ultimately, about keeping the movement going. 

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Brian Whiston is the new guy in town at the Michigan Department of Education, and it looks like he's got poverty on the brain. Whiston and the state Board of Ed early this week convened a group of folks from around the state to share their ideas for how to improve academic outcomes for all students, especially those in poverty.

State of Opportunity special: Your tax dollars at work

Jul 30, 2015
Chris Potter / Flickr

Michigan spends about $5.6 billion on social welfare programs a year, and that doesn't include health care. 

Even though that's only about 10% of the state's total budget, our passions and our politics are very much at work when we talk about these programs.  

In this hour-long special, we uncover why we get so emotional about social welfare spending. Do these emotions keep us from having policies and programs that would actually help families in Michigan get ahead? 

Photo courtesy of the Cortez family

Today’s State of Opportunity story is brought to you by the letter "S," as in study. There’s a new study out that shows Big Bird, Snuffy, Bert and Ernie have a much bigger impact on kids’ lives than just helping them count to ten and learn their ABCs. 

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