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

Start your weekend with these 5 recommendations

mosaic mural of man reading

I read a lot during the week when I'm putting together blog posts. Most of what I read I get to share with you, but there are occasions when I don't have time to get to everything.

Here are a few recommendations I think you'll find interesting, as well as a couple of pieces produced by the State of Opportunity team that are worth revisiting.

1. The mile-high promise, and risk, of school choice

You've probably heard us talk quite a bit about school choice lately. Most of our focus has been on how the policy has worked here in Michigan. The NPR Ed team visited Denver Public Schools, a district U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet pointed to as a potential national model of a big city school district that's found an innovative, balanced approach to school choice.

There are still big gaps in access to quality schools; choice has done little to narrow achievement gaps by income and race; poorer families point to on-going transportation challenges; and choice in Denver includes some painful choices about re-booting and closing under-performing schools, mostly in neighborhoods with some of the most vulnerable students.

2. Trump and transgender rights: What just happened?

Earlier this week, President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. What exactly does this mean for school districts and students? NPR released this cheat sheet to break it down.

3. Ban the box and racial discrimination

Ban-the-box policies, which remove questions about criminal history from employment applications and delay background checks until later in the hiring process, have gained popularity in recent years. We’ve discussed them a few times here at State of Opportunity. This recent reportfrom the Urban Institute examines existing research on ban-the-box policies, their effect on racial discrimination and potential improvements to the policies.

4. What's the deal with Michigan's plan to close 38 schools?

The state of Michigan is planning to close as many as 38 schools by this summer, most of which are in Detroit. State of Opportunity’s Jennifer Guerra spoke to Eugene Brown, whose daughter attends one of the schools that could possibly close. Listen here to find out what information he’s received from the state and what it means.

5. Michigan's new school accountability plan is open for public comment

Last week the Michigan Department of Education released its draft plan for the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (or ESSA). The public has until March 16 to give feedback on the draft before its finalized. My colleague April Van Buren explains the ESSA and the MDE’s draft plan here.

Paulette is a blogger for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously interned as a reporter in the Michigan Radio newsroom.
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