Investing in Innovation: an opportunity for Detroit?

[Note: This is the first in what is likely to be a long series of pieces on educational issues, federal funding for school reform and innovation, and related topics.  My interest in these issues has grown over the past four years as I have taken on new opportunities at Focus: HOPE, but I do not intend to discuss matters particular to my employer here.  Instead, I will write more broadly about education and federal funding for improvement and the implications of such for Detroit and Michigan. -RMD]

Though it has not received the same level of press attention as the $4.3 billion Race to the Top (RTTP) competition, the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund, also in the Department of Education and funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), is a very interesting opportunity for educational reform and improvement.  According to the Department:

“The purpose of this program is to provide competitive grants to applicants with a record of improving student achievement and attainment in order to expand the implementation of, and investment in, innovative practices that are demonstrated to have an impact on improving student achievement or student growth, closing achievement gaps, decreasing dropout rates, increasing high school graduation rates, or increasing college enrollment and completion rates.”

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Independence Day: an opportunity

I’ve long felt that the most patriotic and productive way to celebrate this nation’s independence is to take an honest look at history and consider not the lofty prose but the real actions that got us to where we are today.

We do a tremendous disservice to the children of this country when we teach them that the “founding fathers” were unequivocally heroic figures to be honored, but many of us also err in our later paintings of these figures as simply slaveowners who do not fit with our modern mores.  The truth is a lot more gray than it is black and white, and if we wish to interpret our past in a way that guides our future, we would be remiss to oversimplify the complex development of our nation.

All that said, I am not in the mood to add to the overabundance of such writings being printed, posted, and broadcast today.

Instead, I suggest one reading that I find particularly interesting and to which I opened a book to by chance today, Frederick Douglass’ “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” from 1852.  You can find this speech in various lengths across the internet, and even some dramatic readings of it on YouTube, but I prefer Howard Zinn’s succinct and clear excerpt from Voices of a People’s History of the United States.


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Luddites, old hippies, and Robin Hoods: a nightmare of Nolan Finley

Sometimes Nolan Finley writes very sharp, on-point editorials about real issues facing our state and region (I’d love to post a link to one, but the Detroit News feels that after a few weeks you should have to pay more money for the privilege of reading an article on their site). Sometimes. Other times, I wonder if he is instead a brilliant comedian, trying his hardest to write the most ridiculously inflammatory rhetoric possible, and laughing as everyone gets worked up over it.

His column in today’s papers, Detroit hosts leftist cavalcade, is a prime example of the latter.

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My stumble into blogging: an excerpt

[Note: the following is excerpted from a post to a restricted-access site for my current course. I thought this tale was worth sharing here, though, so here it is. -RMD]

“Well the day has finally come.  I am creating a public blog.  And I’m actually going to stick with it this time.  I swear.  For real.”

Those are the words that open the introductory post on my blog, which is appropriately (and unimaginatively) titled ryan michael dinkgrave: a blog. There are a few things that amuse me about this, both dating back to the first time I started a blog while enrolled in a class that required such, which was as an undergraduate at Michigan State University in the fall of 2005, my final semester there.

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Dear Bono: a wishlist-playlist for another day

U2 was the first band I got into as a kid and I’ve been a fan ever since. I finally saw them for the first (and so far only) time at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2001, as a senior in high school.  I had tickets to see U2 at Michigan State University on June 30, but poor Bono hurt his back and it’s been put off to next year.  I guess he isn’t so young anymore (insert sad face here).

Anyways, I had started on and now present this nerdy little piece, my “Dear Bono, Play These!” list of songs – in no particular order – that I would love for them to play (when they do in fact return to Michigan).  Some are near-certain, many are long-shots at best. This is not quite a list of my favorite songs, but those I want to see live.


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The new old frontier: a draft of a manifesto

Dear Reader:

Well the day has finally come.  I am creating a public blog.  And I’m actually going to stick with it this time.  I swear.  For real.

Does anyone ever actually read the first post in an unpromoted blog, anyways?

Well, assuming someone may, I guess I should introduce myself.  Continue reading

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