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Series & Documentaries

boy listening to radio
Ian T. McFarland / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Earlier this week, my colleague Dustin Dwyer brought you Pushed Out: A documentary on housing in Grand Rapids, our final State of Opportunity documentary. 

While our five-year project is coming to an end, the issues facing low-income kids and families in Michigan aren't. If you want a deep dive into the challenges facing families in poverty, listen to a few of our past documentaries. 

students next to lockers in a line
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The fates of neighborhoods and schools are intimately intertwined. That's especially true in high-poverty areas like Detroit. 

You can see those fates playing out in tandem across the city in part one and two of this documentary. 

So how do we make sense of what is happening, not just in Detroit, but in cities all across the country?

And why, despite wave after wave of reforms, do America’s inner city schools continue to struggle?

Nadia at the book club at the Brightmoor Artisans Community building
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

In part one of our State of Opportunity documentary, We Live Here, we spent time in Littlefield — a Detroit neighborhood right on the edge. It’s trying for a comeback, but so much depends upon whether the elementary school there stays open. 

Now let’s visit a neighborhood that’s past that point. A place where most of the DPS schools are long gone - abandoned, torn down or replaced by charters.

map of Detroit with possible closures marked
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

There are 25 schools in Detroit waiting to hear whether they’ll be closing their doors at the end of the school year.

So, where would all those students end up if those schools did close?

Click on the map below to see the nearby options for each possible closure and how they stack up academically.

Noble Elementary-Middle School
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Over the last 15 years, cities across the country have faced wave after wave of school closures. Places like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia closed down dozens of buildings at a time. 

But the district that closed the most schools during that time was Detroit Public Schools

Scantron Test Form
The Review Univ. of Delaware / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Poor kids in Michigan, and across the country, do worse in school than their wealthier peers.

That’s particularly true for kids attending schools where most of the other students are also low-income, too. Schools that do manage to get kids in concentrated poverty performing on par with wealthier peers are the exception.

This information is probably not all that surprising to you. But if you need a visual aid, take a look at where the bottom 5% of schools are in Michigan. 

Zak Rosen / Mr.

It was a blisteringly hot summer afternoon in Detroit.

 

East Lafayette street was blocked off from car traffic. A few hundred people walked in unison down the middle of the street. Some of them carried signs with photographs of gun violence victims. Others held posters that read, "Thou shall not kill."

woman speaks in front of crowd
Courtesy of Sarahi Nieves

The following is a transcript of the State of Opportunity documentary Out From the Shadows: Living Undocumented, which you can hear at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. today.

Sarahi Nieves’ parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 7. She didn’t have papers, but she grew up here. Then she had a son, a U.S. citizen. And she had to explain what it means to be undocumented in America.

“How can you tell a four-year-old, if we don’t do this, if we don’t go through this, we might be taken apart?” she said.


Wikimedia Commons

Right now, somewhere around 11 million people are living "illegal" lives in the United States. That's close to one out of every 30 people in this country, going about their daily business under the threat of deportation. Many have lived in the United States for years, even decades. Many came to the United States at such a young age, they don't even remember life in another country. They may consider this country home, but the paperwork doesn't. The law doesn't. 

These parts you already know. 

But how did we get to this point? 

Tomorrow, we'll air our latest State of Opportunity documentary, Out From the Shadows, which follows the lives of undocumented families in Michigan. But we also spent time looking at the history of immigration law in the United States, to try to better understand how the laws have changed over time, and how so many people became excluded. 

And it's a fascinating history. 

Julisa Abad moved to Detroit five years ago. Since then she’s become one of the most outspoken advocates for transgender issues in the area.
Julisa Abad

 

 

 

Julisa Abad was was never kicked out of her home. She was never in the child welfare system. But her dad stopped talking to her years ago.  We spoke to her and her friend, Ashley Avery, as part of our Family Values documentary about the ways in which family rejection and acceptance impacts health outcomes for LGBTQ youth.

 

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