Michigan's troubled schools

A year-long examination of Michigan’s declining educational fortunes and what steps lawmakers, schools and others can take to improve student performance, including the study and adoption of policies proven to work elsewhere. Inaction will only compound the crisis.

Full Coverage

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

Mar 25, 2014 | Ron French

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

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

Mar 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: Hard classes and difficult lessons for Albion teens (chapter 2)

Mar 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: Tough times lead very different high schools to merge (chapter 1)

Mar 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.

My school’s great, it’s Detroit that’s failing – and other myths

Apr 3, 2014 | Mike Wilkinson

Detroit, Flint and other poor, mostly African-American school districts get the bulk of the blame for the state’s declining test scores. But the latest research shows Michigan students of all stripes are falling behind their peers nationally – yes, even white, middle-class students. A Bridge Special Report.

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

Apr 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.

A school funding glossary for civilians

Apr 29, 2014 | Bridge Staff

Education policy carries its own jargon, with some of the lexicon more accessible than others. Here are some commonly used terms in the school funding debate.

A brief history of Proposal A, or how we got here

Apr 29, 2014 | Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Proposal A was a bipartisan solution that offered property tax relief to Michigan residents while cutting the gap between poor and more affluent districts. A primer on how it works and why it needs an overhaul.

How much does it cost to educate a child? In Michigan, nobody knows

Apr 29, 2014 | Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Most states pay for so-called “adequacy studies” to calculate how much they should be spending to give students a quality education. Michigan is among a minority of states that have balked at such studies, while questioning their usefulness.

School funding fight turns on two visions of Michigan

Apr 29, 2014 | Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Charter and school-choice proponents want all districts to get an equal share of state funding. The state board and leading education groups say that rural, urban and low-income districts often need more resources to provide a quality education.

Searchable database: How are your schools funded?

May 1, 2014 | Mike Wilkinson

Michigan's school districts and charter academies vary widely in the amount of money each gets from state, local and federal sources. Use our tool to find your own.

Study to measure cost of education unlikely in election year

May 1, 2014 | Chastity Pratt Dawsey

State-funded adequacy studies are hailed by education groups and Democrats as a way to measure the true cost of educating Michigan students. But Republicans deride these studies as an effort to wring more money from taxpayers.

Long-term fixes to Michigan school funding unlikely this year

May 1, 2014 | Chastity Pratt Dawsey

As election season heats up, lawmakers recognize that the state school funding formula needs an overhaul. But long-term changes to the Proposal A funding system will likely not be addressed. This leaves plenty of middle-class districts to struggle.