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Rural Michigan Village Looks to Pre-K for Ed. Opportunities

One rural Michigan school district is turning to prekindergarten classes to give its children the best chance at long-term success.

Stockbridge Community Schools
in Stockbridge, Mich., is a four-school district with roughly 1,600 students. It's the kind of district that can be found throughout the state, a place where poverty is high (more than 40 percent of students are low-income) and the economy is tough.

Michigan Radio, a public radio station, is in the first year of a three-year project, State of Opportunity, that's taking a hard look at what can be done to improve opportunities for the state's most disadvantaged kids.

The most recent installment focused on Stockbridge, a village that's put its resources into early-childhood education. More than half of its incoming kindergartners are in the district's preschool program. The district had about 115 students in its kindergarten class, according to data from the 2011-12 school year.

If the district didn't offer those classes, only 18 prekindergartners would be served in the town's two licensed day care facilities, according to the radio stories.

The need to expand preschool was one of the most significant education proposals in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last week.

The radio station did a number of other stories on Stockbridge. Some of those were about: preparing students for life after high school with technical classes; innovative programs, such as an Exploratory Academy where hands-on lessons are a focus; and whether high expectations for at-risk kids makes a difference.

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