STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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This special reporting project wrapped up in May 2017. Read more.

Sneak preview of State of Opportunity's next phase

Cesar Astudillo

Finding sources, gathering tape, listening to Michiganders' of all ages, sitting in tiny chairs in classrooms: the State of Opportunity team is out in the field preparing stories on kids in grades K-8. 

Reporters Jennifer Guerra, Sarah Alvarez, and Dustin Dwyer were asked to fill in the blank: "One thing I'm really looking forward to this year is _________."

Here's some of what you have to look forward to from now through August 2014. 

For a new series, Sarah Alvarez is looking at the long shadow a 40-year-old Supreme Court busing decision casts over education in Detroit today. She's also, "Getting into more middle schools and learning more about middle schoolers...and, of course, continuing to help people all over the state share their experience with State of Opportunity."

Reporting from (what I like to imagine is) a very small desk in an elementary school, Dustin, previews his documentary on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP): "At the moment, I'm excited about following along with a group of third graders as they prepare to take their first ever MEAP test." He's going to "spend as much time as possible inside Congress Elementary, a school which opened in Grand Rapids in 1892. I learned today that the school had more than 400 students in 1936. Today it has less than 150, and almost all of them come from low-income families. There are plenty of middle class families living in Congress' district area (an area that I happen to live in as well). But for most of these families, Congress isn't even considered as an option. Why? MEAP scores, for starters."

Jennifer Guerra has also been sitting in on classrooms in three separate schools, "One thing I'm really looking forward to this year is embedding in several middle school classrooms to see how they operate, what kinds of resources they offer kids and what kinds of issues kids face---both inside and outside the classroom. Since State of Opportunity is a multi-year project, we get to do a lot of longitudinal reporting, so that's what I'll be focusing on for much of this year."

We've already started airing our K-8  Wednesday feature stories and new documentaries will start next month, so stay tuned to our stories on air and on SoundCloud. Continue to follow us on our blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.