State of Opportunity

State of Opportunity

From Michigan Radio

State of Opportunity is a project aimed at exposing the barriers children of low income families in Michigan face in achieving success.More from State of Opportunity »

Most Recent Episodes

A young immigrant in Michigan: "The hope is still there, but fear is really intense."

Thousands of young immigrants in Michigan today are living in a state of limbo. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to end the Obama administration's deferred action program that allowed these young immigrants to go to school, and work, without fear of deportation. Now, two months into his Presidency, the Trump White House hasn't announced its plans for the program, though the president now says he will deal with the issue "with heart." But for many young immigrants, the fear remains.

A young immigrant in Michigan: "The hope is still there, but fear is really intense."

Places of worship in Michigan promise to protect undocumented immigrants

Eight places of worship in Michigan – in metro Detroit and near Kalamazoo – have officially joined a growing number of churches and synagogues across the country that have agreed to house and protect unauthorized immigrants who fear deportation. Central United Methodist in Detroit was among the first in Michigan to publicly declare itself a sanctuary churche (you'll find the full list at the bottom of this article). Central has a long history of activism, fighting for water rights and protesting foreclosures, and has been nicknamed "the conscience of the city," all of which drew Reverend Jill Zundel to this particular church in the first place. She calls Central her dream church "because it stands up for justice and peace." Zundel's only been at Central United for three years, but she's been thinking about the idea of sanctuary for much longer and can trace it, in fact, to when she was training to volunteer at a holocaust center. She was shadowing a tour guide when someone asked: Where

Places of worship in Michigan promise to protect undocumented immigrants

The partnership model that could keep failing schools open

The state says 38 schools with persistently low test scores might not have to close by the end of the year. At least, not yet. These schools now have 60 days to come up with a turnaround plan using what the state calls a "partnership" model. We wanted to know a little bit more about what that partnership strategy might entail, so we took a trip to Dearborn to find out. Why Dearborn? Brian Whiston head's up the Michigan Department of Education, and he's the one who pitched the partnership model as an alternative to closure. It's a model that's based in large part on a turnaround model he helped oversee before he got to Lansing, back when he was superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools. Maples Elementary is a high-poverty school in Dearborn filled with immigrants and refugees from the Middle East, the vast majority of students are English language learners. Back in 2010, the school was in the 12th percentile on the state's top-to-bottom ranking. So Whiston called up Fatme Faraj, an

A plan for the kids in case Mom is deported

Miguel and Angel are brothers and they pretty much disagree on everything: TV shows, music, games, even the way they dress. But that stuff's all pretty minor compared to the big disagreement they have over where they should go if their mom is deported back to Mexico. Miguel is 14-years old and a proud mama's boy. He says he never wants to separate from his mom and will go with her to Mexico even though he's only visited there once, when he was three. Big brother Angel, who's 15, says he wants to stay here in the U.S. and finish studying. "If I finish school here," he says, "I'll have a better opportunity to help my mom out in Mexico." Angel and Miguel were born here in the United States, along with their four younger siblings. Their mom is undocumented, she came to America illegally 18 years ago (her husband's also undocumented), and while she prays every night that she won't get picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), if she does, she has a plan. The Trump

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

You may have heard that the state is planning to close as many as 38 schools by this summer, the bulk of which are in Detroit. That's a big deal for a whole lot of families, and so far, the state isn't giving them much guidance about what to do. So let's walk through where things stand. Let's start with the now-infamous letter Eugene Brown's daughter Gniyah goes to Marion Law Academy in Detroit. The school is part of the state-run Education Achievement Authority, but is supposed to be re-absorbed back into the Detroit Public Schools Community District this summer. Gniyah's been going there since kindergarten, she's in fifth grade now and brings home Bs in math, her favorite subject. So it came as a big surprise to Eugene Brown to learn that his daughter's school was among the worst in the state and could possibly close. How did he find out? He and parents at 38 schools across Michigan got a letter in the mail from the state School Reform Office (SRO) . It said, in part: Dear Parent

Michigan theater company gives kids with disabilities a chance to shine on stage

Did you ever dream of seeing your name on a Broadway marquee as a kid? If so, you probably have some fond memories of memorizing lines and making costumes for school plays. But for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities, finding a spotlight isn't always easy.

Michigan theater company gives kids with disabilities a chance to shine on stage

Now that DeVos is confirmed, what's next for Michigan schools?

Michigan's own Betsy DeVos is now the most powerful education official in the nation. So what does that mean for Michigan? Let's start our story in Detroit, where DeVos played a big role in pushing for more school choice in the district. Imani Harris is a junior at Renaissance High School, the top tier traditional public school in the city. She was doing an experiment in her chemistry class yesterday afternoon when her cell phone buzzed. Her mom texted her to say "sorry...Betsy DeVos has been confirmed." Imani is not a fan of Betsy DeVos and her push for school choice and charters. "My first thought was oh my gosh, the United States of America is going to look like Detroit, and I know that's a sad thought, but education in my city does not look the best right now." Here's what Detroit's education landscape looks like right now: More students in Detroit go to charter schools than traditional public schools. The vast majority of those charters (80%) are run by for-profit companies And

Students build understanding between peers in diversifying school district

Education in America remains deeply segregated. But at the same time, there are more students of color than ever before. In 2014, for the first time, minority students made up over 50% of public school enrollment . One district that's seen those shifting demographics first-hand is Plymouth-Canton Community Schools . And it's been intentional about creating an environment where students and families from all backgrounds feel welcome.

Students build understanding between peers in diversifying school district

He said he would go after "bad hombres." This order allows him to go after soccer moms.

For the past several days, there have been many, many stories about President Trump's actions on refugee policy, and his administration's travel ban for people from 7 Muslim-majority nations. But last week, the President also signed one other executive action that could have a big impact on immigrants in Michigan. The action spelled out how Trump's administration would prioritize its deportations for undocumented immigrants. The plan Trump announced means lawmakers in Lansing could have a huge say in who will be targeted in Michigan.

He said he would go after "bad hombres." This order allows him to go after soccer moms.

We Live Here: What happens to students when failing schools close?

The fates of neighborhoods and schools are intimately intertwined. That's especially true in high-poverty areas like Detroit. You can see those fates playing out in tandem across the city in part one and two of this documentary. So how do we make sense of what is happening, not just in Detroit, but in cities all across the country? And why, despite wave after wave of reforms, do America's inner city schools continue to struggle?

Back To Top