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.


The crazy cost of college, a cultural timeline (Chapter 2)

February 24, 2015 | Ron French

Hemlines rise and fall, but tuition just goes up.

Four reasons why Michigan college prices have skyrocketed (Chapter 3)

February 24, 2015 | Ron French

The state bears blame for the high cost of higher education, but students aren’t blameless, either.

It’s all about family for one State Champ

February 3, 2015 | Ron French

Ashley Community Schools conquers poverty, small enrollment and other rural challenges to become an academic overachiever

‘Why is THAT school an Academic State Champ?’

February 3, 2015 | Ron French

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers about how Bridge determines district and school rankings

A Great Start to preschool expansion

January 27, 2015 | Ron French

21,000 more four-year-olds are benefitting from free, high-quality preschool in in just two years thanks to extra state funding

How one Michigan community is benefiting from preschool expansion

January 27, 2015 | Ron French

Tripling preschool slots, and still a waiting list in Vicksburg

Michigan’s future teachers flunking test of ‘basic’ content

January 20, 2015 | Ron French

Fewer than 1-in-3 aspiring teachers are passing a new certification exam that tests math, reading and writing skills. Proponents of the test say its raises the bar for the profession; but teaching colleges call the test confusing.

Low-income students seeing huge cost hikes at some Michigan universities

January 6, 2015 | Ron French

Michigan’s most vulnerable students are bearing the brunt of college cost hikes. That’s bad for them ‒ and the state.

College calculator: Don’t believe college sticker prices

January 6, 2015 | Ron French

The net cost for students at Michigan’s public universities can be less than half of sticker price, depending on family income. Use Bridge’s college calculator to determine how much you would pay at the state’s 15 public universities.

Special education rates vary wildly by school district, race, gender and income

December 16, 2014 | Ron French

A Bridge Magazine- Michigan Radio investigation suggests that early education interventions could help many struggling students avoid a special ed designation. See our interactive database showing special education rates in your school district.

Picking a college? How about 10?

December 9, 2014 | Ron French

Michigan universities are buried under an electronic avalanche of applications this month, as high school seniors apply to three, four, maybe a dozen schools.

Training school counselors to give college advice

December 2, 2014 | Ron French

Michigan does not require school counselors to receive training on giving college advice to students.<br />
A bill now in the legislature would require such training for counselors entering the field. But with all the focus on road funding, will lawmakers get to it? </p>

State education board urges Legislature to transform how schools are funded

November 20, 2014 | Ron French

The board’s report cites the recent Bridge series, “The smartest kids in the nation,” which chronicled how other states saw gains when they targeted funds to the schools that needed help most.

Electoral College voting

November 13, 2014 | Ron French

Republicans are promising another effort to change the way Michigan electoral votes are apportioned in presidential races, giving Republican candidates an advantage even when most state votes go to a Democrat.

10 issues to watch in Legislature’s “lame-duck” session

November 6, 2014 | Ron French

By all accounts, finding money to fix Michigan’s roads is a priority. But what after that? A school bill? Or something nuclear, like changing how we count presidential electoral votes?

Election Day Playbook: What to watch for tonight

November 4, 2014 | Ron French, Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Mike Wilkinson

Woody Allen once famously said that “80 percent of success is just showing up.” But Dems would probably settle for half that as they seek to unseat an incumbent governor.

Election preview: How a handful of House races could shape Michigan’s future

October 30, 2014 | Ted Roelofs, Ron French

With the state House perhaps up for grabs, uncertainty for tea party candidates and what could be a close race for governor, Lansing’s approach to road funding, education and other key issues is unsettled.

The governor’s race: where they stand (in 3 minutes or less)

October 30, 2014 | Ron French

Incumbent Rick Snyder and challenger Mark Schauer differ on a lot of issues. Here’s a primer before you step into the voting booth.

State schools chief: Michigan is 10 years behind leading states

October 21, 2014 | Ron French

Superintendent Mike Flanagan tells Bridge he is baffled by Michigan’s poor scores on national tests, has been slow to act on key reforms, and may have stayed in his job too long.

Smartest kids: What Michigan schools can learn from leading states

October 14, 2014 | Chastity Pratt Dawsey, Ron French

Students from Minnesota to Florida are learning more. Is Michigan ready to do something about it?