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.


How long will Flint’s water chief remain unpaid?

August 30, 2016 | Ron French

Flint hired a former brigadier general to oversee replacement of its lead pipes. The Mott Foundation gave Flint money for his salary. So why hasn’t Michael McDaniel been paid? The answer tells you all you need to know about the slow pace of Flint’s recovery.

Mott president on Flint: ‘You hit rock bottom multiple times’

August 30, 2016 | Ron French

Ridgway White says he is buoyed by the amount of philanthropic money flowing in to address Flint’s water crisis. But the Mott president tells Bridge he sees graver challenges in improving the city’s longer-term economic trajectory

Beyond bottled water: Huge checks, slow progress test patience in Flint

August 23, 2016 | Ron French

Delivering pallets of water was the easy part. Now it gets messy, as various players jockey for position, balance competing interests and struggle with plans to repair the city and its people after a crisis like no other.

Think America doesn’t give a damn about Flint? 15,000 donors disagree

August 23, 2016 | Ron French

15,000 donations have poured in to help Flint kids battling lead poisoning. One-dollar bills and five-figure checks arrive almost daily from schoolchildren and prison inmates, elderly widows and romance writers. Here are a few of their stories

State education proposal would add $1.4 billion to school budget

July 12, 2016 | Ron French

Tripping over its own good intentions, a long-awaited study calculating the cost of a good education may be undone by its high price, timid promises and puzzling methodology

The 3 biggest head-scratchers in Michigan education cost study

July 12, 2016 | Ron French

The report was supposed to be a big win for education reformers. But holes in the study may undermine efforts to increase school spending

Dow Chemical being courted by other states

May 18, 2016 | Ron French, Lindsay VanHulle

If more business-friendly states come calling, can Midland hold on to thousands of high-paying jobs? A test of Gov. Snyder’s economic development strategy.

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where cash-poor cities work together with state emergency managers.

May 17, 2016 | Ron French

In Part 2, Bridge shows how Pennsylvania and Ohio are taking a different approach to keeping their cities stron

Fewer cops, abandoned parks, and why more cities will crumble unless Michigan changes

May 12, 2016 | Ron French, Mike Wilkinson

When cities lose 2,300 police officers, it’s time for Michigan to look in the mirror.

U.S. Education Secretary criticizes Legislature for inaction on DPS

May 2, 2016 | Ron French

The failure to come up with more than short-term fixes shows “a lack of concern for people,” says John B. King Jr., who urged a permanent resolution

Flint 101: In business schools and seminars, a tough grade for Snyder

April 28, 2016 | Ron French

Michigan’s CEO governor is the subject of case studies and forums in which the culture in his administration is being compared with oil spills and the Challenger explosion.

For inspirational homeless student, graduation day

April 26, 2016 | Ron French

Ramone Williams completes his journey for a degree from Eastern Michigan University. Now he must find a job

Help remains elusive for homeless Michigan college students

April 26, 2016 | Ron French

Michigan’s patchwork system of support misses the state’s most vulnerable young people

Study: Schools of choice don't improve test scores

April 7, 2016 | Ron French

Almost 100,000 students enroll in public schools outside their neighborhood school districts through Michigan’s popular school-of-choice policy. On average, they are learning no more than if they’d stayed in their neighborhood school, a study finds

The governor and the mayor: Perceived snubs strain Flint recovery

March 31, 2016 | Ron French

As city and state officials race to resolve the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, communication problems cause headaches and hard feelings

How many Michigan third-graders should flunk?

March 31, 2016 | Ron French

Legislators agree that struggling young readers need more help. But what should we do with kids who still can’t read

Michigan’s aging voting machines a 'catastrophe waiting to happen’

March 3, 2016 | Ron French

Scrounging for used parts on the Internet, Michigan clerks say it’s time for new election equipment, if the state will pay for it.

Low-income students soar at some colleges, struggle at others

January 26, 2016 | Ron French

Climbing the economic ladder is made easier at some Michigan four-year campuses than others

Homeless EMU student grateful for more than money

January 5, 2016 | Ron French

Ramone Williams collected more than $25,000 from Bridge and MLive readers. But his more cherished gift: new friends.

Update: Bridge readers open hearts, wallets for homeless college student

December 18, 2015 | Ron French

Touched by the plight of Eastern Michigan senior Ramone Williams, people across the country offer help for the school’s homeless students, even as some ask why there is not more support for low-income students seeking a degree.