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

Catch up on 5 recommended stories you may have missed this week

Book and coffee / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Many of you may be looking forward to an extra day or two of rest due to the holiday weekend. It's a great time to catch up on these recent stories you may have missed.

The subtle brilliance of Sesame Street’s first episode starring an autistic Muppet | Vox

Monday’s episode of Sesame Street included the debut of Julia, the show’s first Muppet with autism. The character was originallyannounced back in 2015. Vox’s Dylan Matthews both commends and critiques the show’s attempt at destigmatizing autism.

It’s not a perfect segment. Like Sarah Kurchak, another autistic writer who’s written about Sesame Street’s introduction of Julia, I wish Julia had more opportunities to express herself, rather than only having her friends talk for her. At the same time, though, I appreciated that Sesame Street has allowed Julia to largely not communicate through spoken words, without being judged for it. That’s a valid difference that shouldn’t prevent autistic kids from being able to have friends, and there’s value in the show demonstrating that this is what autism means for Julia specifically.

3 Tips for Supporting Students with Autism | Education Week

Laura Anthony, a clinical psychologist with the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Children's National Health System, explains how teachers can support autistic children in the class room in this video from Education Week.

"We're going to be separated from my dad." A family's final days together before deportationMichigan Radio

Earlier this week, my colleague Jennifer Guerra told you about Javier, a Michigan father of four who's been told he has to leave the country by the end of the month. You can listen to that story here if you missed it.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has had Javier on their radar for a couple years. He had a mandatory check-in with ICE last year, and they let him stay in the country. They said he wasn’t a priority, according to the attorney who tried to help the family. But when he went back in January, they told him his time was up and he had to get a plane ticket back to Mexico by the end of April.

Is the Push for Women in STEM Hurting Female Artists? | The Atlantic

Women make up close to 50% of the workforce but hold less than one quarter of STEM jobs. It’s a persistent gap we’ve talked about quite a bit here at State of Opportunity. While Trump recently signed two bills to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM, there are no arts-and-humanities equivalents. And Trump’s first budget proposes eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts entirely. 

For some women outside of the sciences, the proposed cuts only underscore a parallel problem women face in the arts—one that they say hasn’t received the same amount of attention. The National Endowment for the Arts, which currently makes up 0.004% of the overall federal budget, provides grants for many women-focused arts organizations. “Funding for the arts is always scarce,” says Roxana Fabius, the executive director of Brooklyn’s A.I.R. Gallery, one grant recipient. She believes that cuts to the arts—like those to the sciences—will disproportionately affect women, making it difficult for female leaders in the arts to sustain their organizations.

Should High School Students Need A Foreign Language To Graduate? | NPR

Earlier this year, Tennessee ran an audit of the state’s 2015 graduating class that found nearly one in three students who received a diploma didn’t complete the required coursework. Roughly 11% of students in the audited year graduated without the required two years of a foreign language - bringing up for debate whether these courses should be required.

Under special circumstances, the state allows districts to give students a kind of free pass, exempting them from the foreign language requirement. In the year Tennessee officials audited, 30 percent of Scott County graduates received permission to skip French or Spanish. State data show that rural districts are the heaviest users of these waivers. Administrators argue they're doing students a favor, especially those with plans for a technical career.

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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