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.


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?

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.