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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

‘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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

September 12, 2018 | Ron French, Chastity Pratt

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

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

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

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?

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