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, or call him at 517-657-3501.


Will Michigan 3rd- grade reading law hurt poor? Florida’s history says yes

May 17, 2019 | Ron French

Students from less advantaged families are more likely to be held back under Florida’s third-grade reading law than white, more affluent kids with the same low reading scores. A similar Michigan law begins this fall.

Michigan’s next superintendent led gains in Kalamazoo, fought GOP policies

May 7, 2019 | Ron French

Michael Rice boosted low-income gains and has experience outside Michigan. And he doesn’t shy away from fights, which could lead to fireworks with the Legislature in his new post as the state school chief.

With schools flailing, Michigan seeks new leader from in-state. Again.

May 7, 2019 | Ron French

The three finalists to be Michigan’s next state superintendent are all Michigan connected. And did we mention that in 183 years Michigan has never had a female full-time state superintendent?

Comparing Michigan school superintendent finalists by test scores

May 7, 2019 | Ron French

Three people are finalists to be the next state superintendent. What do the test scores of students under their leadership say about whether they could turn around Michigan’s flailing schools?

One finalist drops out, one added, to be next Michigan school superintendent

May 2, 2019 | Ron French

Boston steals a superintendent finalist from Michigan’s final three list.

Should algebra 2 be required? Michigan legislator says no. Research says yes

May 1, 2019 | Ron French

A bill allowing students to opt out of algebra 2 for other, more practical math classes has been introduced in the Michigan Legislature a month after a study lauded the positive impact of the requirement.

Q&A: How Michigan social studies became a ‘pawn in partisan games’

April 24, 2019 | Ron French

The state education official in charge of the five-year odyssey to update school social studies standards is tired of her department being used as a political punching bag

Yes, it takes billions to fix Michigan roads. No, taxpayers don’t want to pay.

April 19, 2019 | Ron French

How willing are politicians to raise taxes on roads when the idea is unpopular and voters don’t trust Lansing? We’ll soon find out.

2019 Academic State Champs honors Michigan schools where college is the norm

April 17, 2019 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

Dearborn schools dominate many of the champs lists, as Bridge Magazine recognizes winners at schools from Grand Rapids to Detroit and the Upper Peninsula

Public outcry changed Michigan social studies standards. Add your voice.

April 16, 2019 | Ron French

The public has one more round of public meetings to offer its views on updating subjects covered in social studies classes across the state. Check out the schedule for a hearing near you.

Shooter drills. Anxious teachers. Flying staplers. Michigan schools prepare.

April 15, 2019 | Ron French

It’s been 20 years since two students killed 13 people at Columbine High School. Today, Michigan schools use hockey pucks, hornet spray and gun sensors to train for the unthinkable. Are they ready? And at what cost?

Michigan doesn’t track school security – or fund safety office it created

April 15, 2019 | Ron French, Lindsay VanHulle

Most Michigan schools visited take active shooter security seriously. Just don’t ask the state what each school is doing – it doesn’t keep track. And the Office of School Safety the Legislature created? It remains unfunded.

It’s conservatives’ turn to complain about Michigan social studies standards

April 9, 2019 | Ron French

Last year, a draft of state social studies standards drew outrage after references to climate change, gay rights and Roe v. Wade were cut. A new draft restored them. Guess who is outraged now?

Five finalists named to be Michigan’s next state school superintendent

April 5, 2019 | Ron French

Three finalists are long-time superintendents from Michigan, and two others would bring an outside perspective to the state’s chief of schools

Gay rights and climate change are back in Michigan social studies standards

March 26, 2019 | Ron French

A public outcry followed conservative efforts last year to revise ‒ and in some cases, limit ‒ what is taught classrooms. Those changes were largely reversed in a new draft to the state education board.  

Michigan teachers: Standardized tests are useless and classes are too big

March 20, 2019 | Ron French

Those inside Michigan’s classrooms have some very different views on what works and what doesn’t work to improve education, according to a massive survey of educators across the state.

Rich-poor achievement gap won’t budge. Is investing in teachers an answer?

March 19, 2019 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

Students from poor families are, on average, more than two years behind their wealthier classmates. Poverty plays a huge role in student scores, but can boosting teacher quality also help?

Where have all the babies gone? Michigan births lowest since 1944

March 11, 2019 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

In some counties, there are three funerals for every birth. That’s not a trend that bodes well for the state.

Whitmer budget would triple literacy coaches to help Michigan students read

March 5, 2019 | Ron French

The $24 million budget increase for literacy coaches wasn’t the biggest headline out of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s budget proposal, but it could have a huge impact on Michigan schools, particularly for third grade.

College advocate tapped by Whitmer as education adviser

March 4, 2019 | Ron French

Brandy Johnson, founder and executive director of the Michigan College Access Network will bring a college and career focus to the new administration, and a history of “getting stuff done.”