Michigan Public Radio on Successful Brimley Elementary School


I took a trip to the U.P. last week to visit Brimley, a very tiny town on the shores of Lake Superior. Aside from the Bay Mills Indian Community reservation and the area’s natural beauty, there’s not much to the place aside from a couple bars, a gas station, and a motel. But the residents are very friendly (I was invited to a smelt dinner the first night I arrived), and they celebrate their own: a recent issue of the local paper featured the elementary school’s Students of the Month, complete with photos and quotes from teachers.


Well, this school has a high population of Native American children and kids from low-income families — two groups that statistically struggle in school. But here at Brimley they’re doing well; they are way above the state standard on tests and have been for the past several years.

Via Bryan Newland, who else?

Michigan Public Radio Piece on Representation in Child Welfare

Not Native children specific, but an issue we’ve been talking about internally for some time. It’s a nice piece by Sarah Alverez with an interview with Vivek Sankaran.


Moss has not seen her grandsons since they were removed from her care and placed with another relative in a different city. She blames the system, and she knows the system blames her. This deep mistrust is common in child welfare cases, says Vivek Sankaran, a lawyer and a law professor who runs a child welfare legal clinic in Detroit.

“You’re not going to change the child welfare system until you have parents and relatives viewed as partners in this process with the child welfare agency,” he said.

Sankaran has said for years that what could make these care givers more equal partners is a good lawyer working on behalf of the parents and relatives. All the lawyer jokes we’ve ever heard might make that suggestion seem counter intuitive.

But judges, sections of the Michigan State bar, and parents have long said more lawyers are needed. Without them, Sankaran says it’s hard to know if the decisions being made, serious decisions about whether to separate a family or not, are the right ones.


Michigan Public Radio Environment Report on LRB’s Role in Preserving the Pine Marten

Here (with photos).

Nearly a hundred years ago a small animal that most people have never heard of was wiped out of the northern forest. In the mid-1980’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced the pine marten in two locations in the Lower Peninsula. They thought the population would take off and spread but it hasn’t. And now researchers are trying to find out why.

The pine marten is the smallest predator in the northern forest. It’s a member of the weasel family… related to otters and ferrets. It weighs roughly two to two-and-a half pounds, has big furry ears, a pointed nose, a bright orange patch on its chest and a bit of a temper.

“I don’t know how big of an animal they would take on but they do have a reputation for being quite fierce.”

Jill Witt is a wildlife biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. She has a marten caught in a wire cage tucked next to a fallen log, half buried in twigs and leaf litter.

More than 80 years ago, martens lived in big pine trees before logging, wildfire and trapping wiped them out.

“And I think marten really is a good example of a species that can do well if the forest is allowed to recover and return to and continue on towards a more mature, possible even old growth state.”