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 517-214-3636.

Articles

Once embarrassed by its graduation numbers, Wayne State becomes a model

November 15, 2018 | Ron French

Graduating less than half your students in six years doesn’t seem worth bragging about. Until you see the trend line. WSU just won a national award for improving grad rates, particularly for black students.

Overnight, it’s a new Michigan. Women sweep to power in change election.

November 7, 2018 | Ron French, Jim Malewitz, Ted Roelofs, Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Welcome, legalized pot. So long, gerrymandering. Democrats and women score big victories, as ballot measures all pass. Republicans hold onto Legislature, promising divided government.

Q&A | Don’t kid yourself, U.S. enemies are trying to hack our elections

November 3, 2018 | Ron French

The University of Michigan’s Alex Halderman is one of the nation’s leading experts on election security. In a Bridge Q-and-A, he says Michigan’s systems have improved, but there’s more work to do.

Free tuition brings more low-income students to the University of Michigan

October 31, 2018 | Ron French

Michigan has struggled for years to get low-income students to enroll. A program offering free tuition to Michigan students from families earning under $65,000 a year may have done the trick.

Could this be the year Michigan college students actually vote?

October 29, 2018 | Ron French

Campuses are working overtime to get students to vote in higher numbers than in past elections. That shouldn’t be hard – only one in seven voted in the last midterm at Michigan State and the University of Michigan.

What Michigan schools will look like under Governor Whitmer or Schuette

October 25, 2018 | Ron French

Turning around Michigan schools is job number one for the next governor. Bridge asked education policy experts to predict what schools will be like in a Bill Schuette or Gretchen Whitmer administration.

State Board of Education races could swing Michigan K-12 school policies

October 25, 2018 | Ron French

There isn’t a lot of hype about the State Board elections, but two seats on the November ballot could shape how Michigan tries to reverse its educational slide. Bridge interviews the candidates.

Paid sick leave law making some Michigan businesses feel queasy

October 18, 2018 | Ron French

A Traverse City nonprofit working with the disabled said it barely scrapes by. If it has to pay workers while they are out ill, the group’s director says it may have to cut services to survive.

‘Michigan Divided’ documentary showing at DIA and U-M as election nears

October 17, 2018 | Ron French

Bridge spent a year following six families with wildly different political views after the contentious 2016 election to see if they could find common ground. You have a few chances to see the resulting documentary before your vote on Nov. 6.

Hey college applicants: Harvard will reject you. And that’s OK.

October 1, 2018 | Ron French

High school seniors (and their parents) are too stressed about getting into top universities. But acceptance into the “right” school matters less than what  students do on campus, says New York Times author Frank Bruni.

Got a beef with Michigan’s social studies standards? Help rewrite them

October 1, 2018 | Ron French

The Michigan Department of Education is asking for volunteers to figure out how controversial proposed changes to the state’s social studies standards should be changed, or not.

A final meeting, and Michigan’s social studies standards head for a rewrite

September 21, 2018 | Ron French

No gay rights. No Roe v. Wade. No Climate Change. That could change, after the Michigan Department of Education was inundated with complaints about social studies revisions for K-12 students.

Truth Squad: Republicans attack Dana Nessel for firm’s defense on sex crimes

September 21, 2018 | Ron French

A TV ad blasts the Democratic attorney general candidate for her former law firm’s defense of accused child sex offenders, and ties her to Weinstein, Cosby and Nassar for good measure.

Muskegon kids struggle to read. Their superintendent had the same problem.

September 17, 2018 | Ron French

Muskegon Superintendent Justin Jennings read at a third-grade level when he entered college. So he knows the challenges schools face as they prepare for Michigan’s third-grade “read or flunk” law.

Truth Squad | Bill Schuette goes low, accusing Whitmer of terror sympathy

September 12, 2018 | Ron French, Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Why talk about Michigan potholes when you can attack your opponent about Middle East terrorism? Bill Schuette goes for the jugular, and earns a misleading rating from Truth Squad

Michigan is failing its students, as state test scores keep tanking

August 29, 2018 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson, Chastity Pratt Dawsey

M-STEP results show 1-in-3 third-graders are not proficient in reading. The bad news extends across grades and subjects, impacting white, black and Hispanic students. What should state do now?

Database: Check out your Michigan school and district M-STEP scores

August 29, 2018 | Mike Wilkinson, Ron French, Chastity Pratt Dawsey

See how students in your schools performed in reading language arts, math and other subjects this past school year

Child care for this baby costs more than the University of Michigan

August 28, 2018 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

Politicians have plenty to say about college costs. Yet child care expenses can have a bigger impact for many families and businesses. And Michigan has done little to help middle-and-low-income parents.

Yes, you can pay rural Michigan college grads to come home

August 23, 2018 | Ron French

Tired of seeing their best and brightest head to college never to return, three Michigan counties offer to pay up to $15,000 of student debt for grads who come back for jobs. Counties in other states are taking notice.

Next hurdle for Michigan redistricting backers: ballot language

August 1, 2018 | Ron French

The description of a proposal can be no longer than 100 words on November’s ballot. Those words can clarify, confuse, anger or motivate voters. The battle over Michigan’s redistricting proposal is about to start.

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