Ron French

Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011 after having won more than 40 national and state journalism awards since he joined the Detroit News in 1995. French has a long track record of uncovering emerging issues and changing the public policy debate through his work. In 2006, he foretold the coming crisis in the auto industry in a special report detailing how worker health-care costs threatened to bankrupt General Motors. In 2007, French uncovered Michigan’s educator pension and health-care costs that are now at the center of policy debate in Lansing. He is also the author of “Driven Abroad,” a book chronicling the movement of Michigan jobs overseas. You can reach Ron via email at, or call him at 517-214-3636.


Legislature green-lights second straight major preschool expansion

June 12, 2014 | Ron French

More than 10,000 additional needy four year olds will likely find seats in public preschool next fall thanks to final legislative approval this week of Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to double the size of Michigan’s public preschool programs. This caps two years of work by local school districts, private preschool providers, and early childhood advocates to solve a major preschool shortage.

Bridge reporting leads to tougher teacher testing

June 12, 2014 | Ron French

Aspiring teachers will soon face tougher tests after the Michigan Legislature last night approved $1.8 million for certification test upgrades.

In Hillsdale, crumbling streets but support for fixing state’s 'eyesore'

May 13, 2014 | Ron French

Like small communities across Michigan, Hillsdale is quietly laying off police, reducing services and watching its roads fall to pieces. And yet, there is support for state aid to Michigan’s largest city.

Dennis Archer: Supporting Detroit benefits entire state

May 13, 2014 | Ron French

Detroit’s former mayor argues that the city’s negative image brings down all of Michigan – even hundreds of miles away.

Public to politicians: Fix our roads!

May 6, 2014 | Ron French

Michigan residents are sending politicians the clear message that it’s time to spend more on the state's deteriorating roads. Even if it means raising taxes.

Gridlocked on change, state may bring back reviled MEAP next fall

April 24, 2014 | Ron French

The legislature’s inability to decide on a test that accurately measures student growth may impact students and teachers next fall.

Funding to improve teacher prep passes House subcommittee

March 27, 2014 | Ron French

A state push to improve teacher performance was hampered by testing delays. Bridge pointed out a minor fix that would speed testing. On Tuesday, that fix passed a hurdle in the state House

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: Tough times lead very different high schools to merge (chapter 1)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

When money ran out at Albion High, the district shipped students to rival Marshall High School. What happens when poor, African-American students are bused to an affluent, nearly all-white high school? The answer may surprise you.

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: Hard classes and difficult lessons for Albion teens (chapter 2)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

With wariness among students from both towns, Albion teens enter classrooms very different from their old school. ‘They can’t know what they haven’t been taught.’

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: Are Albion and Marshall a model for other troubled districts? (chapter 3)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

Two superintendents face down ‘racist’ concerns from parents in their communities, and begin to see the promise of their stand.

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: For Albion students, a long day, but ‘worth it’ (chapter 4)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

Seven months later, there is a growing optimism among students despite academic struggle. And the districts’ finances begin to grow.

School’s not out for summer if policymakers get their way

March 3, 2014 | Ron French

Year-round school is suddenly the hot new education reform movement in Lansing. Bridge wrote about a wildly popular year-round district in Michigan’s Thumb last fall.
<p>Now bipartisan support for year-round schools is growing in the legislature.</p>

Bill sponsor says year-round schools will prove popular

March 3, 2014 | Ron French

The devil is always in the details, but year-round bill sponsor Andy Schor, D-Lansing, says the pilot program spearheaded by him and Gov. Rick Snyder will ultimately win support from parents, students, and teachers.

Michigan teachers are under the microscope

February 3, 2014 | Ron French

Bipartisan measure would tie part of a teacher’s evaluation to student growth on standardized tests. Implementing the new assessments would cost millions but backers say it will improve learning by giving teachers the training and support they need to get better.

Teacher evaluation bill meant to help, not punish, co-sponsor says

February 3, 2014 | Ron French

Rep. Adam Zemke says new statewide teacher evaluation legislation will help students by improving teachers’ classroom performance.