Land O Links

land-o-FINAL*With the appointment of Kevyn Orr, Detroit, Pontiac and Flint all are under state emergency managers. Something else the three cities share: They have the three lowest rates of average household incomes among Michigan cities with at least 50,000 residents. 

Flint’s at the bottom at $24,779; Detroit is next at $26,253; and Pontiac is at $26,713.

At the other end of the spectrum, Troy’s average household pulls in $82,835; Novi’s $76,296 and Rochester Hills garners $73,773.

Another notable trend: Ann Arbor ($53,226) averages about 50 percent more than Grand Rapids ($37,407), Battle Creek ($37,058) and Lansing ($35,823), while essentially doubling Saginaw ($27,286) and Kalamazoo ($30,071).

*Is academic success just a matter of timing? David Britten, superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools in the Grand Rapids’ suburb of Wyoming, ran academic test results against student birthdates. He found that those children who entered the K-12 system at an older age (due to birthdates in the months of December through May) scored better than students with birthdates in the months of June through November.

Britten asks a key question: “While this simple study is eye-opening, it’s not conclusive as other demographic factors could certainly be contributing to these gaps. But it does beg the question that if it makes sense to segregate students based on age at the start of kindergarten, why aren’t we doing more of it?”

*The Citizens Research Council’s new report on Detroit finances is littered with fascinating tidbits. For example, Grand Rapids’ and Saginaw’s reliance on the income tax for revenue.

Chart D shows per capita city revenues by type of tax. For almost every city, the dominant tax stream is from property. But GR and Saginaw rely foremost on the income tax.

Not surprisingly, Saginaw and GR have the second- and third-highest income tax rates in the state (behind Detroit).

*In Tennessee, lawmakers want to get tough with parents on government aid whose children do poorly in the classroom

In particular, parents of struggling students who don’t attend parent-teacher conferences or take other steps to aid their kids would face fiscal sanctions. That’s obviously a policy tilted toward the stick and not the carrot, but it raises a central question: How do you punish the parents without hurting the kids?

“It’s really just something to try to get parents involved with their kids. We have to do something," state Sen. Stacey Campfield explained to The Tennessean newspaper.

(And, yes, there’s a typo in the headline of a piece on education.)

*The Atlantic created a national county-by-county map that cross-references income and demographic attributes of a given area, all headed by cutesy names such as “tractor country,” “military bastions” and “monied burbs.

Try to guess which label applies to the largest number of Michigan counties.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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