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

Six systems in 7 years and Michigan students still lag. Now comes A to F.

January 17, 2019 | Ron French

Should schools be graded with a letter? A number? How about a color? How about if we told you none of it has done much to help students? Michigan churns through reform while top states stick with one plan.

Car repairs and rent checks: a bold plan to keep Michigan students in college

January 7, 2019 | Ron French

Almost 1-in-4 Michigan adults is a college dropout. A foundation in St. Clair County is turning traditional scholarships on their head, and creating a possible model for the rest of the state.

Michigan’s A-to-F school ratings on ice until attorney general weighs in

January 3, 2019 | Ron French

The Legislature and former Gov. Rick Snyder approved a new accountability system for Michigan schools. But the Michigan Department of Education questions the law’s legality.

Michigan A-to-F school bill gets passing grade in Senate; on to Gov. Rick Snyder

December 18, 2018 | Ron French, Lindsay VanHulle

A controversial bill that will give grades to schools will likely become law, despite concerns about whether it meets federal guidelines.

Michigan education department blasts A to F school system bill

December 18, 2018 | Ron French

State Superintendent Sheila Alles minced few words in a last-ditch effort to kill an A-to-F school grading system pushed by the legislature.

Michigan House passes A-to-F school grades but nixes new commission

December 13, 2018 | Ron French

In what appeared to be a compromise to get votes, a politically appointed commission with broad powers over Michigan schools was downgraded to an “peer review panel.” Bill now goes to Senate.

How divisive is Michigan lame duck? Dems and GOP can’t even agree on puppies

December 5, 2018 | Ron French

A bill working its way through the Legislature would stop local communities from banning the sale of puppies at pet stores – puppies that animal rights groups say sometimes come from puppy mills.

Republican bills would snatch power over Michigan schools from Democrats

December 4, 2018 | Ron French

The legislation would create a new education commission that Gov. Snyder would largely fill as he exits office, and before Democrats take over the governor’s office and state board of education

Michigan may soon rank schools A-to-F. Will it help? Nobody knows.

November 29, 2018 | Ron French

Would hanging a scarlet letter on a struggling school improve learning? Michigan might find out, if a bill now being considered in the Legislature passes.

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.

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