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.


Smartest kids: In Florida, early reading and frequent testing bring results, and pushback

September 30, 2014 | Ron French

Emphasis on literacy and testing to monitor progress are credited with a rise in student learning in Florida, particularly for low-income and minority students. But some ask, how much is too much?

Smartest kids: Teaching starts early, with special focus on the poor, in Minnesota

September 16, 2014 | Ron French

Minnesota traces its elite status to tough academic standards, the nation’s most extensive early childhood education program and higher investment in low-income schools.

DNR yields to public and will not allow drilling under prized land at Hartwick Pines

September 12, 2014 | Ron French

A Bridge article revealing possible oil leasing under the virgin pines produced a backlash from environmental groups, and from the family that donated the land. The DNR says it may still allow drilling in other parts of the park.

Smartest kids: In Tennessee, an epic turnaround

September 9, 2014 | Ron French

A perennial bottom dweller in academic rankings, Tennessee has sprinted to respectability by demanding more of teachers and students and giving them the tools to succeed.

Oil lease proposed under 400-year-old virgin pines

August 7, 2014 | Ron French

The state may allow an oil lease under the largest stand of virgin white pine in the Lower Peninsula. Experts say drilling wouldn't harm trees. But critics fear a booming oil rig at Hartwick Pines State Park.

How to comment on possible oil drilling under Hartwick Pines State Park

August 7, 2014 | Ron French

Revenue and jobs? Or undisturbed quiet? Make your voice heard on drilling proposals. Also, see if you live near a proposed drilling site.

Michigan primaries – where democracy goes to die

August 4, 2014 | Ron French

Primary voters in Dickinson County will go the polls Tuesday; probably in the same sedan. A county-by-county guide to voter apathy in Michigan.

Even with no opposition, is Proposal 1 in trouble?

July 31, 2014 | Ron French

Support from Republicans and Democrats. More than $8 million in spending. No organized opposition. Why is the public skeptical?

Paying students to graduate

July 17, 2014 | Ron French

Grand Valley may have found the secret to on-time graduation: Financial incentives.

Cherry wars: The crazy economics of Michigan’s favorite pitted fruit

July 8, 2014 | Ron French

Cherries dumped in ditches? Polish imports? With the National Cherry Festival in full swing, one cherry producer is left with a sour taste.

Legislature green-lights second straight major preschool expansion

June 12, 2014 | Ron French

More than 10,000 additional needy four year olds will likely find seats in public preschool next fall thanks to final legislative approval this week of Gov. Rick Snyder’s plan to double the size of Michigan’s public preschool programs. This caps two years of work by local school districts, private preschool providers, and early childhood advocates to solve a major preschool shortage.

Bridge reporting leads to tougher teacher testing

June 12, 2014 | Ron French

Aspiring teachers will soon face tougher tests after the Michigan Legislature last night approved $1.8 million for certification test upgrades.

In Hillsdale, crumbling streets but support for fixing state’s 'eyesore'

May 13, 2014 | Ron French

Like small communities across Michigan, Hillsdale is quietly laying off police, reducing services and watching its roads fall to pieces. And yet, there is support for state aid to Michigan’s largest city.

Dennis Archer: Supporting Detroit benefits entire state

May 13, 2014 | Ron French

Detroit’s former mayor argues that the city’s negative image brings down all of Michigan – even hundreds of miles away.

Public to politicians: Fix our roads!

May 6, 2014 | Ron French

Michigan residents are sending politicians the clear message that it’s time to spend more on the state's deteriorating roads. Even if it means raising taxes.

Gridlocked on change, state may bring back reviled MEAP next fall

April 24, 2014 | Ron French

The legislature’s inability to decide on a test that accurately measures student growth may impact students and teachers next fall.

Funding to improve teacher prep passes House subcommittee

March 27, 2014 | Ron French

A state push to improve teacher performance was hampered by testing delays. Bridge pointed out a minor fix that would speed testing. On Tuesday, that fix passed a hurdle in the state House

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: Tough times lead very different high schools to merge (chapter 1)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

When money ran out at Albion High, the district shipped students to rival Marshall High School. What happens when poor, African-American students are bused to an affluent, nearly all-white high school? The answer may surprise you.

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: Hard classes and difficult lessons for Albion teens (chapter 2)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

With wariness among students from both towns, Albion teens enter classrooms very different from their old school. ‘They can’t know what they haven’t been taught.’

13 MILES TO MARSHALL: Are Albion and Marshall a model for other troubled districts? (chapter 3)

March 25, 2014 | Ron French

Two superintendents face down ‘racist’ concerns from parents in their communities, and begin to see the promise of their stand.