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 517-214-3636.


Michigan residents demand better college, career advice

September 17, 2015 | Ron French

Our students deserve better counseling to prepare for life after high school, whether they are pursuing a college degree or career. Residents are keen on requiring school counselors to receive training in college and career advice.

Legislative preview: Lansing tackles teaching, roads and inmates

September 10, 2015 | Ron French

It’s back to work for Michigan’s Legislature. A Bridge guide to the biggest issues lawmakers are likely to face this fall

Michigan’s stumbling middle class

August 13, 2015 | Ron French

Think you’ve got it tougher your parents did? You’re right.

School of choice, or a revolving door?

July 28, 2015 | Ron French

A Michigan policy allowing families to pick a school outside their home district for their kids to attend is wildly popular. But a first-of-its-kind study raises questions about who it helps – and who it might be hurting.

Worried about Michigan’s switch to the SAT? Six reasons to calm down

July 16, 2015 | Ron French

Free, online prep and fee waivers should help relieve anxiety over Michigan’s new college admission test

Does Kalamazoo Promise success build case for more state scholarship funding?

June 25, 2015 | Ron French

Make college cheap enough, and more people graduate. Who knew?

Study offers financial, policy road map for Michigan education reform

June 25, 2015 | Ron French

A blunt new report lists ways to fix Michigan schools. Will anyone listen?

Grand Rapids cites the limits of state rankings to explain school gaps

June 23, 2015 | Ron French

Why do some low-income elementary schools in Grand Rapids perform better than others? Educators in Grand Rapids say that ranking formulas often do not reflect critical differences between seemingly similar schools.

How state’s new early childhood funding will help boost student learning

June 11, 2015 | Ron French

More than $30 million has been allocated for early reading initiatives in the 2016 state education budget. Many of the initiatives, intended to boost Michigan’s third-grade reading rates, followed Bridge reporting on the benefits of early investment in vulnerable children.

How a single, powerful senator killed serious reform of teacher evaluation

June 4, 2015 | Ron French

A bill to set rigorous statewide standards for evaluating teachers was backed by Republicans and Democrats, as well as the governor. Standing in their way: state Sen. Phil Pavlov, who has his own ideas about what's best for teachers.

Ball Q&A: Michigan kids ‘will lose’ with weak teacher evaluation bill

June 4, 2015 | Ron French

UM education dean Deborah Loewenberg Ball slams the Legislature’s latest bill to rate teachers. She urges the state to instead adopt her panel’s recommendations, which she said would be the nation’s gold standard for raising classroom performance.

Reforms could mean fewer prisoners, shorter sentences – and more money for potholes

May 17, 2015 | Ron French

The urgent need for road repairs could be the final push needed for criminal justice reforms to be unveiled Monday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

6 things we learned (and 3 things we didn’t) from Proposal 1 debacle

May 7, 2015 | Ron French

Legislators can’t write ballot proposals. And voters don’t read newspaper endorsements. Those are just two reasons why Proposal 1 failed.

Why does U-M accept so few low-income students?

May 5, 2015 | Ron French

A girl, a college president, and the struggle to increase income diversity on campus.

Is state’s defense of prison rape allegations another $100 million gamble?

April 16, 2015 | Ron French

Critics question the state’s aggressive defense of a lawsuit by young inmates who say prison officials failed to protect them from sexual assaults. An earlier suit by women inmates cost the state $100 million, far more than taxpayers would have paid had the state settled the case earlier.

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

April 16, 2015 | Ron French

A program meant to help young, nonviolent offenders get back on track is instead sending more to prison, where they say sexual assault is rampant.

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

March 26, 2015 | Ron French

From ACT prep to private tutors and advisors, middle- and high-income students are groomed to follow their dreams. For bright low-income students, the first obstacle is learning where to start.

Putting a college advisor in every Michigan high school

March 26, 2015 | Ron French

Getting low-income students to think about two- and four-year colleges is the goal of a program that can lift young people from poverty and boost the state’s economy.

March Gradness: NCAA brackets built on victories in the classroom, not the court

March 17, 2015 | Ron French

Grading Michigan State University and the other NCAA tournament teams on the academic factors that matter to average (much shorter) students.

College costs have doubled, even after inflation, and other frightening facts (Chapter 1)

February 24, 2015 | Ron French

Think you can still pay for college delivering pizza? Think again. Bridge presents 6 realities facing today’s college student.