Ron French

Project Editor/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

Students drinking less at MSU and U-M, but still more than national average

Students drinking less at MSU and U-M, but still more than national average

January 28, 2020 | Ron French

Fewer college students are binge drinking at Michigan’s two Big Ten universities. One possible reason: campaigns to correct students’ “Animal House” perceptions of their school’s drinking culture.

If you drink at college, follow these tips to avoid serious danger

If you drink at college, follow these tips to avoid serious danger

January 28, 2020 | Ron French

Binge drinking is declining nationally as awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking increases.

Michigan offers little help for child care. That may change in 2020

Michigan offers little help for child care. That may change in 2020

January 27, 2020 | Ron French

A critical mass of business, political and education leaders pushes for reforms to increase child care access and affordability for low- and middle-income Michiganders.

University of Michigan provost accused of sexual misconduct

University of Michigan provost accused of sexual misconduct

January 22, 2020 | Ron French

Several people have made sexual misconduct allegations against Martin Philbert, a longtime fixture in Ann Arbor and former dean of U-M’s School of Public Health.

 

Michigan inches toward universal pre-K as leaders support 2-year kindergarten

Michigan inches toward universal pre-K as leaders support 2-year kindergarten

January 8, 2020 | Ron French

With bipartisan support in Lansing and a push from parents, two-year kindergarten programs are growing across the state, effectively leading the state toward a form of universal preschool.

 

Michigan leaders join forces to reform schools. Can it work this time?

Michigan leaders join forces to reform schools. Can it work this time?

December 18, 2019 | Ron French

Business leaders, teacher unions, charter schools and philanthropies are now saying the same thing: We have a plan to improve our schools. In Michigan, that’s news.

Mike Shirkey: I’m open to changing Michigan’s third-grade reading law

Mike Shirkey: I’m open to changing Michigan’s third-grade reading law

December 18, 2019 | Jonathan Oosting, Riley Beggin, Ron French

Hearing concerns from educators, Michigan’s Senate Majority Leader says he’s considering changes to the law that could flunk 5,000 third-graders in May.

15,000 Michigan kids take two years of kindergarten. Is Lansing listening?

15,000 Michigan kids take two years of kindergarten. Is Lansing listening?

December 11, 2019 | Ron French

More families, most of them white and more affluent, are enrolling children in two years of kindergarten, saving child-care costs and giving schools more state money. In effect, parents are stepping in when Lansing won’t.  

Choice of Michigan college can make a (million-dollar) difference

Choice of Michigan college can make a (million-dollar) difference

December 10, 2019 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

A college degree still pays off, but pays off more at some universities than others, according to a new study. Compare the return on investment at Michigan two- and four-year colleges.

After 3 years of substitute teachers, this Michigan girl may flunk 3rd grade

After 3 years of substitute teachers, this Michigan girl may flunk 3rd grade

December 3, 2019 | Ron French

Sabrina, 8, is caught in the crossfire of two state education crises – the state’s new third-grade “read-or-flunk” law and an explosion in the use of uncertified long-term substitute teachers in state classrooms.

Why do Detroit kids miss so much school? Hint: Don’t just blame the schools

Why do Detroit kids miss so much school? Hint: Don’t just blame the schools

November 26, 2019 | Ron French

A new Wayne State University study finds that factors outside of school have a huge impact on school attendance, such as asthma, poverty and crime rates.

Michigan term limits face court challenge from former lawmakers

Michigan term limits face court challenge from former lawmakers

November 20, 2019 | Riley Beggin, Ron French

A group is arguing in a new lawsuit that Michigan’s strictest-in-the-nation legislative term limits are unconstitutional.

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.

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