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

Ideas and stuff: Interesting things we're reading at State of Opportunity

mosaic mural of man reading

There have been more than a few emails between the State of Opportunity team this week about research or articles with some version of "we need to share this," as the subject.  

Not all of it is made for easy sharing on social networks, so we've developed kind of a backlog that we're going to take care of right here, right now. 

It's not necessarily sunshine and rainbows, but I threw in some cheer at the end. 

How do you make a living on zero income?

One thing we've talked about since the beginning of this project is how many kids in Michigan are growing up in a household that earn no income. It might seem impossible, but it could be a reality for as many as 10% of the group of women who at one time got cash assistance, or "welfare." We've met several of these folks in our reporting.

These zero-income households have generally hit the time limit for those cash assistance programs and can no longer qualify. They might be getting rent subsidies or food stamps, but a number of things keep them from working – primarily a lack of jobs, child care or transportation. A new report by the Urban Institute (and authored by a researcher at the University of Michigan) explores the experience of these mostly single mothers and their children.

How the Common Core can play out in one kid's life

The New York Times did an interesting piece about how the Common Core State Standards can take a toll on individual kids. The piece lays out some of the standards, how they're taught and how they're tested in New York City.

It makes sense that some kids will rise to the challenge and others might struggle, but this piece does a great job exploring what that feels like for the teachers and kids going through it and asks the question, is it worth it?

If you really want an answer to "how did we get here?" when talking about violence

Jennifer White and I are starting to get ready for our next State of Opportunity special and this time the theme we'll be exploring is violence. One of the books Jennifer has read on background is "Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun," by Geoffrey Canada. Canada is well known as the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, but he wrote this book well before that job.

It's a really personal account of the evolution of violence in urban neighborhoods and how Canada grew up in the environment. Jennifer calls it a "modern day Lord of the Flies," one that has a lot of lessons for how we think about violence and what to do about it.

Hit us back with interesting things you've been reading relevant to the themes we explore at State of Opportunity. And here's something to take the edge off some heavy stuff for a Monday afternoon.

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