Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the news

News outlet logo for favicons/cbslocal.com.png

Wayne State Latin-American Center celebrates 50 years, one of the oldest of its kind in the country

Wayne State may be best known for their great Medical and Business schools but tucked away on the 3rd floor of the administration building is a program that’s changing minds and lives and has been doing so for decades. “Very few people know in Detroit, what the Latino community is very aware of is that this center is a legacy of the Civil Rights movement and was established in 1971-72 first as a one-year training program for Latino students,” said Jose Cuello, Associate Professor Emeritus of History and Latino Studies at Wayne State University. uello says, the students at the time demanded more than just a training program at the University. “That turned into what was called the Chicano-Boricua Studies, that means Chicano is the Mexican-American part and the Boricua is the Puerto Rican those were the two strongest populations at the time,” said Cuello. From there Cuello says the center for Latin American studies was born. A program that teaches a diverse group of students not only about their history but identity. “My own personal ideal is that, you cannot just be a Latino, when people ask me who I am I don’t say well I’m a Latino, I’m Mexican, my first identity is human,” Cuello said.  https://cwdetroit.cbslocal.com/2021/10/14/wayne-state-latin-american-center-celebrates-50-years-one-of-the-oldest-of-its-kind-in-the-country/ 
News outlet logo for favicons/arabamericannews.com.png

Arab women have staked out college paths for themselves, as education became essential to community identity

There is little doubt that the Arab American community in Metro Detroit has made great headways in gaining political and economic security as it grows and evolves. Much of this momentum can be attributed to a culture of professionalization and educational attainment in Arab enclaves like Dearborn and Hamtramck. So much so that this drive towards education has shaped the identity of the population over time. The community has grown outward from its working class immigrant roots to gain footings in the local and national political arena, medicine, law, the arts and more. It is no doubt Arab families, like many other American families, hold education in high regards, just as its educational achievements affirm the thriving community’s hard work in building better futures for its generations. The demands of a competitive, globalized economy have made secondary and postsecondary education a need, like in any other American community. But the data also gives a glimpse into college preferences for many Arab American students, and indeed their families. As a significantly immigrant community, the need to stay connected within the local area is a factor in deciding where to apply for college, for many students. Many students take advantage of the area’s well known universities. Reports from Dearborn schools show most of the common colleges for graduates to enroll in are within the metro area, including Wayne State University, Henry Ford College, University of Michigan-Dearborn, or campuses a little further away like University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Eastern Michigan and other state schools. 
News outlet logo for favicons/cbslocal.com.png

Defining terms that refer to people of Latin American descent

As we enter Hispanic Heritage Month, there are a plethora of different terms which refer to peple of Latin American descent. These terms, including Latino, Latina, LatinX, Hispanic, and Afro-Latino, are all used with the community that is largely referred to as “Latino.” Alicia Díaz, an instructor at Wayne State University’s Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, joins host Lisa Germani in a conversation about these terms. Díaz explains how these terms are not all necessarily interchangeable or accepted by everyone in the community.

Libraries aren't neutral ground in the fight for anti-racist education

While conservative movements and bills taking aim at anti-racist approaches to education have primarily focused on schools, libraries can also be particularly vulnerable as repositories not just for books, but for information, education, and resources. As library boards can often operate with very little oversight from other branches of local government, who has control over budgets, services, and programming can have widely spanning effects on a community. In many areas, libraries function as community centers offering public access to the internet, after-school programs, citizenship classes, and assistance in applying for public benefits. Book displays centering LGBTQ+ and BIPOC stories and multilingual programming can go a long way toward making marginalized community members feel welcomed and included. And it is precisely because of the expansion of library services in recent decades that many officials want to clamp down on their reach. “I think if you look at the source of that anger, it’s about power and resources,” said Kafi Kumasi, an associate professor of library science at Wayne State University. “It’s wanting to make sure that children are fed this myth of what America is and are not exposed to the realities of racism, classism, sexism.
News outlet logo for favicons/michiganchronicle.com.png

WSU endowment scholarship community bolstered by alum

Out of her passion and devotion to high school and college students, Detroit philanthropist Carolyn Patrick-Wanzo is working to protect the future of social work and music through the creation of several endowment scholarships at Wayne State University with her late husband. Patrick-Wanzo, 76, became interested in the world of endowment scholarships when she and her husband, Mel Wanzo, a trombone player best known for playing in the Count Basie Orchestra decided to give back to the community. “He would say, ‘You can give your life to the music and in 10 years nobody would know you existed,’” she said of her jazz musician husband who played the trombone in the big band. “We would talk about, ‘Let’s do something sustainable,’ when we retired.” That sustainability came in the form of endowment scholarships in the music department at WSU – the first one in 2003.  
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to challenge 2020 census results showing population decline

The number of Black residents in Detroit fell while the hispanic, white and Asian populations grew over the last 10 years, according to U.S. Census population results for 2020 released Thursday. Detroit's overall population dropped 10.5% in the last decade, the latest results show. "Detroit has been declining in population from nearly 2 million sometime in the (19)50s and the trend became really apparent with the 1960 census and has gone down ever since then. There’ve been signs that it might be declining in recent years," said Lyke Thompson, director of Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies. "There's a lot of people that are moving into certain parts of the city ... when does the trend of people moving in offset the trend of people moving out?" Thompson said much of the historic decline was a result of the loss of manufacturing jobs and plants, particularly a decentralization of the auto industry, shifting outside of Detroit. On top of that, white residents left the city after 1950 and moved to areas such as Oakland and Macomb counties, and the draw of new housing in the suburbs contributed to Detroit's population decline, he said. In the latest census, for example, the non-Hispanic Black population in Macomb grew. "That’s something that can be turned around if you make significant efforts to do infill housing," Thompson said. "The housing is just so in need of repair that people keep moving out of those areas, and those houses get abandoned and they have to be torn down. It's really a race between repairing older housing, building new housing and overcoming the tendency for people to move out by making more attractive spaces for people to move into."
News outlet logo for favicons/crainsdetroit.com.png

Wayne State establishes infectious disease research center to aid in future pandemics

Wayne State University announced Monday the opening of a new center focused on the study of infectious diseases and strategies to combat future pandemics. The Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases will enhance training and research in the field of public health. The center is not a physical building but a collection of doctors, researchers and professors at the Detroit-based university. "The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered local, state and national mindsets toward infectious disease threats, including pandemic diseases," Dr. Mark Schweitzer, dean of Wayne State's School of Medicine and vice president of health affairs for the university, said in a news release. "The pandemic revealed deep and broad gaps in our clinical and public health infrastructure that responds to pandemics. "In line with the mission of WSU to support urban communities at risk for health disparities, the center will have the expertise and capacity to support and collaborate with neighborhoods, hospitals and public health agencies to deliver state-of-the-art diagnostics, treatments and preventive strategies for the benefit of all residents in Detroit and other communities." Work done at the center will focus on vaccine development, clinical vaccine evaluational, deployment strategies for the vaccine in underserved populations and research on pandemic mitigation efforts. Directors of the new center include: Dr. Teena Chopra, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases; Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor of pharmacy practice; Dr. Marcus Zervos, head of infectious diseases division for Henry Ford Health System, professor of medicine and assistant dean of WSU Global Affairs. Key faculty include Dr. Phillip Levy, professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president of translational science and clinical research at WSU, and Matthew Seeger, professor of communication.
News outlet logo for favicons/fox2detroit.com.png

Wayne State awarded millions in order to battle hypertension in Detroit

Wayne State University has been awarded millions of dollars to study high blood pressure in Detroit residents. The new project will deploy mobile health clinics to Detroit neighborhoods over the next four years to better understand the factors that contribute to hypertension in residents. It's part of a $20 million initiative to better understand the health disparities between Black and White Americans. The plan is to identify health plans for residents with high blood pressure and help cultivate a personal regiment that will coach them toward a healthier lifestyle. Data collected from these plans will better help researchers understand what role environmental factors contribute in the overall health outcome of Detroiters. Wayne State will be using $2.6 million for the program. A professor of emergency medicine at Wayne State that is leading the program says access to health care, food insecurity, availability of healthy food, shelter, and exercise are all major factors in high blood pressure. "To achieve health equity, effective strategies must address negative (social determinants of health) that are root causes of racial disparities in health," said Dr. Phillip Levy. Levy said that while lifestyle changes could better improve the health outcomes for people with high blood pressure, implementing these changes has not been easy.
News outlet logo for favicons/downtownpublications.com.png

Critical race theory: politics enters the classroom

According to experts, critical race theory is really an academic and legal theory first developed in the 1970s in response to the civil rights movement. According to those railing against it, it will teach young students they are racists and White supremacists, and rewrite Black History and those of “others,” including indigenous people. “The goal of critical race theory is that people existed besides the typical European narrative that we see in text books,” said Truman Hudson, Jr., EdD, instructor, College of Education, Wayne State University. “We don’t need to have separate narratives; we’re the United States, yet we’re not united. We’re teaching separateness. It’s looking through a multicultural lens. It does not look at Black, White, Arab, Jew – it lifts up everyone’s story. As long as we continue to look at education and race through a separate lens, we’ll end up with separate and unequal, which is what happened. It hurts all kids when we don’t look at race through a culturally sustaining pedagogy. We’re missing all these stories, the richness by all these people that don’t look like the people in these textbooks. The richness adds to all of our lives when we build on this space. It shouldn’t be us versus them. Our future generations need to know. It’s okay to say the country is an experiment that we’re still trying to figure out – it’s okay to make people feel uncomfortable talking about it. The amendments to the Constitution show growth. They helped establish justice, of where we want to go. Education helps us grow, and the more we learn, we can continue to grow.”
News outlet logo for favicons/smithsonianmag.com.png

Has the pandemic put an end to the SAT and ACT?

Many students never made it through the test-center door; the pandemic left much of the high school class of 2021 without an SAT or ACT score to submit. Liberal arts colleges, technical institutes, historically black institutions, Ivies — more than 600 schools switched to test-optional for the 2020-21 application season, and dozens refused to consider test scores at all. To choose among all those college hopefuls, many institutions took a holistic approach — looking at factors such as rigor of high school curriculum, extracurriculars, essays and special circumstances — to fill in the gaps left by missing test scores. Take the case of Wayne State University in Detroit, where before Covid, high school GPA and standardized test scores were used as a cutoff to hack 18,000 applications down to a number the university’s eight admissions counselors could manage. “It was just easier,” says senior director of admissions Ericka M. Jackson. In 2020, Jackson’s team changed tack. They made test scores optional and asked applicants for more materials, including short essays, lists of activities and evaluation by a high school guidance counselor. Assessing the extra material required assistance from temporary staff and other departments, but it was an eye-opening experience, Jackson says. “I literally am sometimes in tears reading the essays from students, what they’ve overcome … the GPA can’t tell you that.”

WSU's Nikki Wright lauded for efforts to give back

As a little girl on vacation visiting her lawyer uncle’s home in Mississippi, Nikki Wright would wander through his study in wide-eyed awe, mesmerized by the endless rows of legal tomes lining the bookshelves, daydreaming of a future where she would follow in his footsteps. Her uncle, Reuben V. Anderson, went on to become Mississippi’s first African American state Supreme Court judge, and Wright returned home to Detroit and transformed the girlhood aspirations Anderson had inspired into inspiring professional triumphs. After earning both her undergraduate and law degrees from Wayne State and then clerking for only the second Black man to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court, Fred L. Banks, Jr., Wright went into private practice as a litigation attorney, honing both a sharp skill for investigation and a strong desire to give back to the community that nurtured her. These days, Wright serves as assistant vice president in the Wayne State Office of Equal Opportunity, her skills and passions having dovetailed at the same university campus where she pursued her earliest dreams. Among other things, she supports the university’s compliance efforts in investigations involving discrimination and harassment, and helps train faculty and students about these issues. Wright also helps the university ensure that WSU’s hiring committees are diverse. A member of the Social Justice Action Committee, Wright also helped the university draft recommendations aimed at boosting diversity, inclusion and equity as related to faculty hiring and retention. “I saw this job as a way for me to give back to the university,” Wright said about her decision to leave private practice for her alma mater. “Obviously, I could go into the public sector and potentially make a great deal more money, but I really wanted to take a step into a different direction and help a university that helped me. So it really came full circle for me. And that was the right decision because it allows me to give back, something I really enjoy.” Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Recently, Wright was among several other women honored by the Michigan Chronicle with its “Women of Excellence” Award. The award recognizes African American women throughout metro Detroit for their leadership and public service. “When they selected me, I was really happy,” said Wright. “This type of work is really important work, and it supports the university, it supports our community. And the Michigan Chronicle is all about recognizing the work that African Americans do. It was nice that they recognized me. “ Her work at Wayne State, she says, is an extension of the efforts she’s made throughout her career to serve as a positive influence on both the community and individuals. In addition to being active in her church, Hope United Methodist, Wright has provided pro bono legal work for organizations such as the Horatio Williams Foundation, which supports local youth through mentoring, tutoring and afterschool activities. She has done charity work for the public school systems in both Detroit and elsewhere, providing resources for needy children and families. She’s also served as in-house and outside legal counsel for the Detroit Public Schools Community District. And while none of the work is easy, the load grew especially heavy in 2020 as Wright and her family also had to struggle with the death of her older brother, who passed away that March just as the coronavirus pandemic erupted. (Wright says her brother wasn’t diagnosed with COVID-19, although she suspects he may have had it.) “It was very difficult,” Wright admits. “And so we're just getting through it. We're still challenged, but we're getting through it. We were very, very close. Some of what we do now is in memory of my brother. He worked with students with the Southfield public school system, in particular, with the disabled student body. And so my family and I help to make students’ Christmas bright. We support them during Christmas by making sure that they have a full and happy Christmas.” Her work with students also reaches back to the WSU campus. For example, Wright serves as a judge for Wayne State’s Moot Court Competition. In private practice, Wright also hired and mentored young attorneys often giving them their first experience of practicing law. Whether she’s helping to diversify the faculty ranks at Wayne State or supporting students and new attorneys in metro Detroit, Wright takes heart in the fact that she’s helping others access dreams, not unlike the uncle who guided and inspired her. Doing this at her alma mater, says Wright, makes the job all the sweeter. “I’m the glad the Michigan Chronicle recognized the important work we’re doing, and I see us as continuing to support Wayne State’s efforts to tear down the barriers that impact minorities,” she says. “And I'm really happy to be doing it in a university that I care about, where I graduated with a degree in undergrad and law school. It means a lot to me.”  
News outlet logo for favicons/michiganchronicle.com.png

Wayne State Office of Women’s Health and Wayne Health Launch Well-Woman Wednesdays

The Office of Women’s Health at Wayne State University, in partnership with the Wayne Health Mobile Unit program, will introduce Well-Woman Wednesdays, bringing free mobile health screenings and health education to the community at a variety of locations beginning July 14. The first Well-Woman Wednesday will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. at the headquarters of Alternatives for Girls. The project seeks to educate and empower women to achieve better health by providing them with screening, resources and connections to health care providers on their journey to improved wellness. “With Well-Woman Wednesdays, the Wayne State University Office of Women’s Health aims to expand health care to vulnerable communities impacted most by health disparities and lack of access to health care, thus improving the health of women overall,” said Sonia Hassan, M.D., associate vice president and founder of the Office of Women’s Health and a professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Wayne State University. “The development of a women-focused mobile health unit aiming to improve health literacy and provide reliable methods and resources for the establishment and pursuit of care will improve accessibility of health care to women and eventually narrow the gap in health disparities.” The Wayne Health Mobile Unit program began in April 2020, bringing COVID-19 testing, and later vaccinations, to tens of thousands of people across Michigan. “This latest project is an extension of our initial testing and vaccination efforts,” said Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., a WSU professor of Emergency Medicine and chief innovation officer for Wayne Health. “It makes perfect sense to expand the array of health care and health care education services that our mobile units can provide for communities, assisting people in the comfort of their own surroundings.”
News outlet logo for favicons/downtownpublications.com.png

Transgender, non-binary search for selves, rights

Blake Bonkowski grew up in Royal Oak uncomfortable in his own skin, not knowing who he was, bullied as an outsider throughout school because other kids thought he was a lesbian. “I got the idea – you're weird, you don't belong,” Bonkowski said, who was born female. “People had been calling me a lesbian my whole life, but I knew that didn't fit. I never questioned gender. It was something I was never aware of. Until I graduated high school, I didn't know that trans people existed – I knew that some trans women existed, but not trans men, and I didn't know that non-binary was real. I knew that calling myself a gay woman didn't fit, so I repressed everything until the end of high school, and then I met a girl I couldn't deny I had a crush on ”Bonkowski said he never spoke to his parents about his sexuality, gender dysmorphia or even the harassment and bullying he experienced. They just weren't the kind of family that talked about things, he said. Roland Sintos Coloma, a professor in the Wayne State University College of Education, noted that being older is not at all unusual. “Because of cultural, generational pressures to conform and be a certain way, as well as there weren't as many models. Trans folks were seen as freaks, as people on the margins of society. Trans folks, they've been seen, especially in non-Western cultures, they've been revered as spiritual,” such as the “two-spirits” of indigenous cultures, the hijras in India, South American culture and their widespread presence in ancient Greek mythology. 
News outlet logo for favicons/wxyz.com.png

Women in the Workplace: Employers' role in avoiding a 'she-cession'

Bertie Greer, associate dean at Wayne State's Mike Ilitch School of Business, said companies have a lot to lose, or to gain, based on the tone they are set as we return to work. “Right up until we had the pandemic, conversations about flexibility at work or remote work were still a no-no. This pandemic really, has squashed that argument," she said. Greer, who also knows what it's like to be a working mother herself, said the pandemic has shown us workplace flexibility can no longer be a perk, but is a necessity in some cases. COVID, she said, taught us that it's possible to accommodate that. “It becomes second place to see a child walk in the back of a video conference. It has become second place to hear interruptions," Greer said. Data shows that inflexible work cultures have contributed to some women having to choose between caring for a loved one or advancing in their career or keeping a job. “There is this issue of not necessarily gender, but gender plus," Greer said, the idea that employers are not concerned with gender, but rather what traditionally comes with it; kids, household duties, care-taking, etc. “We’re going to have to work with our employees," said Greer. "Now we know we have more tools to use. Invite these tools into the workplace and figure out how to use them to retain your best and brightest.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wxyz.com.png

What's fueling the massive spike in home and rent prices across metro Detroit?

Home prices are hitting record highs, and rent is also on the rise, making it difficult for some people to find and keep a place to live. According to Zillow, the average home value in Michigan is more than $205,000, up 13% from April 2020. Rent Cafe reports the average rent in the city of Detroit is up to more than $1,100 a month, a 4% increase from last year. This is a problem that can cause even more damage down the road, as the CDC said it's a basic necessity for families to find safe and affordable housing. "You really just need state and federal government to create tools that make it easier for developers to build affordable housing and for residents to qualify and to live in affordable housing," Matthew Roling, an adjunct professor of finance at Wayne State University said. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Detroit suffers from a deficit of about 100,000 housing units for low-income residents. The U.S. has a shortage of 7 million units of affordable housing. Roling said the term affordable housing typically refers to government-subsidized housing for low-income residents. "But these days the housing market, the 'for sale' residential market has exploded in value so much in the last year and a half, the affordable housing conversation in a lot of markets could also reasonably be construed to include that," he said.
News outlet logo for favicons/theconversation.com.png

3 ways schools can improve STEM learning for Black students

James Holly Jr., assistant professor of urban STEM education, wrote an article for The Conversation on improving STEM learning for Black students. “Black people make up just 9% of the STEM workforce in the U.S. As a scholar who studies how STEM educators can more effectively reach Black students, I want to help all people develop an understanding of how anti-Black racism is a significant barrier for Black students learning STEM. Many scholars have argued that our current ways of teaching STEM are bad for everyone because only the experiences and contributions of white people are discussed, but the negative effects are greater for Black people. Teachers frequently question the intellectual ability of Black students and prevent them from using their cultural worldviews, spirituality and language in the STEM learning setting. Still, Black people continue to boost STEM knowledge across the world. It is time to generate new teaching practices in STEM that affirm Black students in a way that connects with their lives.”
News outlet logo for favicons/wdet.org.png

Rep. Tlaib on family in Palestine: “They just want to live”

Howard Lupovitch is an associate professor of history at Wayne State University and director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies. He says Israelis were trying to form a coalition government before the current conflict. ”We need to differentiate between the current Israeli government’s policies and what most Israelis actually think and feel.” He says he believes the state of Israel is necessary, but says it also created this conflict. ”Looking at both sides is very important … Zionism and the state of Israel solved a European problem and created an Asian or a Middle East problem … it was created to be not only a Jewish state but also a democratic state … both of those things are necessary.” Lupovitch says Hamas does not represent all Palestinians, and the same goes for the current Israeli leadership and citizens of Israel. ”If we could remove the Israeli right-wing extremists from this equation, the conflict could resolve itself very easily.” Saeed Khan is a lecturer of near east and Asian studies at Wayne State University. He says Palestinians are disenfranchised in multiple ways under Israeli occupation. ”Part of the way to understand what’s happening currently … is that Israel is moving farther and farther to the right.” He says with extremism from Hamas and the state of Israel, it’s becoming more difficult to resolve the conflict. ”We are finding that the space for some kind of return to negotiation is looking precarious because the [political] center is in jeopardy of no longer holding,” Khan says.
News outlet logo for favicons/bridgemi.com.png

COVID is fading, but racial gap in deaths is back with force in Michigan

African Americans again are dying at a disproportionate rate from COVID-19 in Michigan, as the gap widens between Black and white residents who have been vaccinated. In the past four weeks, African-American residents have comprised 19 percent — 295 of 1,560 deaths — of all COVID-19 deaths, despite making up 13.8 percent of the state population. The uptick comes as demand for the vaccines decreases. Statewide, some 27 percent of African Americans have at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to 40 percent for white residents, according to state data. And Detroit, where 78 percent of residents are African American, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state: About 33 percent among adults compared to 55 percent statewide. Experts say the return of the death disparities underscores that the vaccine saves lives. Detroit has gone to senior housing apartments and run clinics at churches and neighborhood centers in an attempt to get as many people as possible vaccinated. “If you make it easy for people they’re more likely to do what is needed to keep them healthy,” said Phillip Levy, an emergency room physician who heads the Population Health Outcomes and Information Exchange (Phoenix) program at Wayne State University. As a physician at Detroit Receiving Hospital, Levy said he saw the rising number of COVID-19 cases pour into the emergency room in recent months. “It’s very worrisome,” said Levy, who is also chief innovation officer for Wayne Health. And he’s aware of the low vaccination rate in Detroit. “That’s really scary. We’ve got to continue to press and press hard.” To help, Levy’s group has been taking its mobile health unit across the region, to neighborhoods in Detroit, Eastpointe and Pontiac and elsewhere to bring basic care as well as vaccines to areas where “social vulnerability” — higher poverty, more seniors, less health care access — is highest. He lauded efforts at local churches to bring the vaccines closer to where people live, to have it offered in settings where people may be more comfortable.
News outlet logo for favicons/detroitnews.com.png

Detroit's infant mortality rate made a historic drop. Here's why

Detroit's infant mortality rate — once highest in the nation, exceeding many Third World countries — achieved a historic drop in 2019, helping Michigan achieve its lowest infant mortality rate in more than 100 years, according to state health officials. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan noted programs, such as Make Your Date, a collaboration between the city and Wayne State University, and prenatal programs run by Henry Ford Health Center and Ascension St. John Hospital as well as community organizations such as the Black Mothers Breast Feeding Association. Infant mortality is considered the death of an infant before reaching the age of 1. Causes of infant mortality included birth defects, preterm or premature birth, maternal pregnancy complications, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and injuries like suffocation. The greatest cause of infant mortality is premature birth, said Dr. Sonia Hassan, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine who co-founded Wayne State University's Make Your Date program with Duggan in 2014. "It's amazing and great news," said Hassan of Detroit's reduction in infant mortality. "The reduction was for 2018 to 2019, but for years before that, there was a real big focus in the city by many groups on infant mortality — and it really made a difference. "Our program had high volume enrollment and others did too during that time. We were able to partner with the city on the transportation piece. So we were able to get a lot of people to services that they needed." Make Your Date, Henry Ford Health System, Ascension Health, the March of Dimes and numerous other partners focused on moving the needle, she said. "All of those people collectively as a group really were focused on infant mortality," she said. 
News outlet logo for favicons/freep.com.png

For thousands of Michigan students, the barriers to getting to school are steep

Of the 50,000 students who attend Detroit Public Schools, more than 29,000 counted as chronically absent — missing 10% or more days in a school year — in the 2019-2020 school year. Statewide, nearly 300,000 students counted as chronically absent that year, according to state data. A new report from Wayne State University's College of Education finds the reasons for chronic absences for Detroit students are complicated. The report illustrates the lengths parents often have to go to get their child to school, in the face of unreliable transportation options and precarious financial circumstances. "We have the highest chronic absence in the country of any large city by a lot," Sarah Lenhoff, a Wayne State researcher and professor, said. The findings from the study mirror what other education leaders around the state have anecdotally noticed about chronically absent students. A lack of transportation plays a role in student absences, Lenhoff said, but just blaming absences on transportation leaves out more nuanced factors. Systemic problems like unemployment, financial insecurity and crime all contribute to a school district's chronic absenteeism rate. In interviews with families for the Wayne State report, researchers found those systemic, societal issues collided with a family's circumstances.  "It was rarely as simple as, 'I just have no way of getting my child physically to school,' " she said. "Most families are not going to enroll in a school that they physically can never get to."