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 rfrench@bridgemi.com, or call him at 517-657-3501.

Articles

Michigan expanded preschool funding. Reading scores show it works.

Michigan expanded preschool funding. Reading scores show it works.

November 6, 2019 | Ron French

The good news: Low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds who enroll in the Great Start Readiness Program become better readers than those who don’t. The bad news? One-in-three qualified kids still aren’t enrolled.

Michigan schools are now average. That’s progress.

Michigan schools are now average. That’s progress.

October 30, 2019 | Mike Wilkinson, Ron French

The NAEP test, known as “the nation’s report card,” shows that state students are treading water on test results, as other states’ scores are going down. As a result, Michigan has risen to middle-of-the-pack status.

Wayne State bets the word 'free' will lure students like it has at U-M

Wayne State bets the word 'free' will lure students like it has at U-M

October 24, 2019 | Ron French

Most low-income Detroit high school grads already can attend Wayne State University tuition-free. But by making that an explicit, Wayne hopes more city students will see a future in college. 

The Test: ‘Read-or-flunk’ law looms over Michigan third-graders

The Test: ‘Read-or-flunk’ law looms over Michigan third-graders

October 23, 2019 | Ron French

Bridge begins a series following four third-grade classes as they prepare for a test determining who moves on to fourth grade, and who stays behind.

Fewer Michigan college students want to be teachers. That’s a problem.

Fewer Michigan college students want to be teachers. That’s a problem.

October 17, 2019 | Ron French

Declining enrollment in teacher prep programs means bigger teacher shortages, which leads to more uncertified teachers leading Michigan classrooms.

Tiny school districts to Lansing: Stop acting like ‘middle-schoolers’

Tiny school districts to Lansing: Stop acting like ‘middle-schoolers’

October 7, 2019 | Ron French

Superintendents in some of Michigan’s most isolated districts blame Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Repubican leaders for a budget fight that they say threatens their future and treats students like political pawns.

Fewer students, tepid state funding roil Michigan public universities

Fewer students, tepid state funding roil Michigan public universities

October 7, 2019 | Ron French

Meager funding, lower birth rates and a skeptical public are forcing several Michigan universities to adjust to a world with fewer degree options, larger classes and tighter budgets.

Majority of Michigan public schools started school year short on teachers

Majority of Michigan public schools started school year short on teachers

September 26, 2019 | Ron French

A survey of superintendents confirms a teacher shortage forcing schools to turn to less-qualified long-term substitutes.

Michigan GOP budget contains 7 big surprises for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Michigan GOP budget contains 7 big surprises for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

September 26, 2019 | Jonathan Oosting, Riley Beggin, Ron French

Tucked inside the $59.9 billion budget, Michigan legislators have proposed big cuts to the Department of Education unless it creates A-F school grades, shifts money for redistricting and requires the construction of a controversial psychiatric facility in Caro.

Hate Michigan roads? Your neighbors’ may be way better. (with database)

Hate Michigan roads? Your neighbors’ may be way better. (with database)

September 26, 2019 | Mike Wilkinson, Ron French

Yes, Michigan has bad roads, but their quality varies widely throughout the state, according to 2018 rankings of road conditions, which may inform lawmakers’ debate about whether to raise taxes for upgrades.

Dems break with Whitmer, pass small funding increase for Michigan schools

Dems break with Whitmer, pass small funding increase for Michigan schools

September 19, 2019 | Ron French, Riley Beggin

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is left out of negotiations as legislators boost budget for state $15.2 billion. The budget doubles the number of literacy coaches, but critics say the funding isn’t enough to improve test scores.

Michigan GOP proposes 0.9% funding boost for colleges and universities

Michigan GOP proposes 0.9% funding boost for colleges and universities

September 12, 2019 | Ron French

Most universities and community colleges wouldn’t get enough of a funding hike to cover inflation under the latest budget plan in the Michigan Legislature. That’s frustrating for a state already ranked 44th in the nation in per-pupil funding of higher education.

Michigan schools would get 2.4 percent hike in GOP budget plan

Michigan schools would get 2.4 percent hike in GOP budget plan

September 12, 2019 | Ron French

Michigan Gov Gretchen Whitmer, who campaigned on the promise to improve Michigan’s struggling public schools, didn’t get as much as she wanted in next year’s state education budget.

Is Michigan school spending up or down? Pension problems muddy the answer

Is Michigan school spending up or down? Pension problems muddy the answer

September 11, 2019 | Ron French

The rising cost of unfunded pension liabilities is a drag on Michigan schools, according to a new report.

Report: Funding cuts, high tuition spawn a cost crisis at Michigan colleges

Report: Funding cuts, high tuition spawn a cost crisis at Michigan colleges

September 6, 2019 | Ron French

A “perfect storm” of falling wages, state disinvestment in higher education and stingy financial aid has made Michigan a tough place for low-income college students to succeed.

 As Lansing debates funding, schools struggle to pay teachers, fix roofs

As Lansing debates funding, schools struggle to pay teachers, fix roofs

September 3, 2019 | Ron French

Amid political disagreements about school funding, Michigan’s smallest district and its most geographically expansive face common problems: Not enough money to boost disadvantaged students. And roofs that need replacing.

Detroit superintendent: Parents should demand end of long-term subs

Detroit superintendent: Parents should demand end of long-term subs

September 2, 2019 | Ron French

Detroit Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, center, took to Twitter over the weekend to blast the use of long-term substitute teachers to lead Michigan classrooms. And he’s doing something about it. (Bridge file photo)

M-STEP shows no progress for Michigan’s struggling third-grade readers

M-STEP shows no progress for Michigan’s struggling third-grade readers

August 29, 2019 | Ron French

With the state’s read-or-flunk law beginning this year, Michigan’s efforts to help young readers appear to be falling flat.

Michigan M-STEP test scores are inching upward. See how your school compares.

Michigan M-STEP test scores are inching upward. See how your school compares.

August 29, 2019 | Mike Wilkinson, Ron French

Results from the state’s annual standardized test, given to students in grades 3-8, show faint signs of improvement. See how state students overall performed in the tests given last spring, and look up your own school.

Benton Harbor schools may be open for now, but test scores are the pits

Benton Harbor schools may be open for now, but test scores are the pits

August 29, 2019 | Ron French

The good news is Benton Harbor High will remain open this year despite threats by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to close it. The bad news is its test scores are among the state’s worst.

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