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12 April 2012

“Science is the knowledge of consequences, and dependence of one fact upon another” Thomas Hobbes, 17th century English philosopher.

*Remember when Michigan was talking so much about the need to increase the number of college degrees among its populace?

And now: Jackson Community College saw a 12 percent enrollment decline for its winter (current) semester, on top of a 12 percent decline in the fall semester. “A decrease in government money awarded to students has been a major factor in this year’s enrollment decline, officials have said. Many JCC students were attending classes with federal dollars through the state’s No Worker Left Behind program for unemployed people, but that money dried up”:

* How healthy is your county? In 2011 ,Leelanau County won honors as being the healthiest in Michigan. Judging by this map, the healthiest areas are clustered around, but not necessarily in, urban cores: Marquette, Traverse City, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Mt.Pleasant, Ann Arbor. Or maybe the linkage is just greater access to hospital/clinic facilities. Whatever the linkages, living in the northeast quadrant of the Lower Peninsula is NOT good for your health:

* Bridge Magazine has reported before on the resilience of, and myth-making around, the agriculture industry in Michigan. In short, agriculture, or agri-business, did well in the recession. Unfortunately, a report out of MSU ended up being the spark for a bunch of mythical claims about agriculture — namely that it is the state’s “second-largest” industry.

Now, MSU is back with an updated version of the report, in which it links agriculture to $91 billion in economic activity and to more than 900,000 jobs. This would mean, of course, that agriculture accounts for somewhere between 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 jobs in the state.

A quick review of the report does not yield any specific claims about it being Michigan’s “second-largest” industry. And the big numbers it points to are the product of including far more than farmers in the field and the crops they grow. It also includes food retailers, horticulture and, well, a haystack full of sectors. (By the way, actual farm work is credited with just over 70,000 jobs in Michigan.)

So, if you hear a politician, businessperson, farmer or anyone else making the second-largest claim, point them to the actual study and ask them to read it … carefully:

* Detroit Public Schools takes another run at governance changes in bid to improve classroom performance:

* A survey of Detroit parents finds that most of them have been “shopping” for schools among the options available: traditional public, magnet, charter, etc:

* Hmm. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that deer are over-running communities across southern Michigan:

3 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. Andy

    “(L)iving in the northeast quadrant of the Lower Peninsula is NOT good for your health.” Mr. Melot, correlation does not equal causation. As an experienced reporter you should know that. Poorer health outcomes in the northeast Lower may well be a result of demographic variables. Please use accurate wording.

    1. Derek Melot

      “Andy,” Good point. The style of LOL is meant to be more snarky than scientific, but correlation does not equal causation. A more scientific way to describe the situation could be: Counties in the northeast quadrant of the Lower Peninsula did not score as well on a series of health outcomes than counties in other quandrants of the state.

  2. Theresa

    This is very unfortunate. Is there any impact of this kind on other community colleges in the state?

    We have always been a nation with two paradigms going on at the same time – helping yourself and getting help from others. There is nothing wrong with this idea…. sometimes you can do it alone, other times you need assistance.

    The real question are “What are people doing who were attending this school and how is it benefitting them? “and “Is the thing they are currently doingas viable both for long term and short term use as their attending school?”

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