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

Read nice things about Detroit

Downtown Detroit

Today is a big day in the bankruptcy proceedings for the city of Detroit.

Votes are due from creditors on whether to approve the city's restructuring plan. The Detroit Free Press reports the results of those votes should be made public in about 10 days. 

In the meantime, you can expect plenty of think-pieces reflecting on the anniversary of the bankruptcy filing, and what it all means. 

Aaron Foley, of Gawker Media, officially fired the starting pistol yesterday, with a piece that began: 

Get ready, folks! It's time for another progress report on America's most forlorn and depressed city, now even deeper in the throes of bankruptcy than ever before. July 18 marks the day Detroit filed for bankruptcy, which means you'll likely be inundated with one-year anniversaries on the topic in the next week. The Freep's going to do it. The News is going to do it. Rumor has it you're going to read about it in The New York Times Sunday magazine this weekend. So we decided to get our analysis out a little early.

Foley's take is worth a read, if for no other reason than that he actually lives in Detroit, which is often not the case with other journalists writing about the city (ahem).

It's also not the case with the nearly 7,000-word piece published online today by the New York Times magazine.

The piece, titled "The Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit" doesn't include much that hasn't already been written about Detroit. If you've never heard of Dan Gilbert, Slows Bar BQ or the Heidelberg Project, it may prove to be an informative read. 

The bigger takeaway for me is that I think we may finally be seeing the beginnings of a change in the national narrative about Detroit.

If The New York Times is declaring the end of the "Post-Apocalyptic" Detroit meme, then maybe at least we've reached a turning point for how others talk about the city (the Times, of course, is the paper of record when it comes to our nation's trends). 

One thing that doesn't get much of a mention in the Times piece is education. The need to improve Detroit's schools comes up only once, in this passage: 

When Mayor Duggan told me in April that his entire focus was on increasing the city's population, he said that each month he planned to demolish 600 blighted properties and install 2,400 functioning streetlights. "And if you give me some time," he said, "the police are going to show up on time. And ultimately, we're going to solve the problem of the schools."

Ultimately, that should be the real goal.

Maybe when we're done talking about streetlights, water fights, pensioners, and burned-out buildings, we can get to the subject of educating kids.

That would be nice. 


Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.
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