Education

We cover how our residents are growing and learning, starting from pre-K, through higher education, and beyond, into adulthood. 

Coverage of education in western Pennsylvania on 90.5 WESA is supported by a generous grant from
The Grable Foundation.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Hamlet says district-wide reform is a marathon, not a sprint.

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The superintendent of the Beaver Area School District paused before the start of Monday’s school board meeting and told a packed auditorium that she is gay.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

After a rash of incidents that saw prison staff sickened by unknown substances and prompted a 12-day lockdown, Pennsylvania's Corrections Department has changed many of its rules related to inmate privileges--including where and how they're allowed to get books.

A federal judge ruled this week that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' delay of a key student borrower protection rule was improper and unlawful.

"This is such an important win for student borrowers and anyone who cares about a government that operates under the rule of law," says Toby Merrill, of Harvard Law School's Project On Predatory Student Lending. The judge is expected to order a remedy in the next week.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

During the first mass of the school year, two students at St. Bernard Elementary School stood in front of the congregation and lead their classmates in prayer.

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr

Public schools in Pittsburgh will dismiss two hours earlier than scheduled Tuesday due to expected high temperatures.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh says the early release is intended to provide relief to students and staff, especially those in schools without air conditioning.

Middle and high school athletics will continue at the discretion of head coaches. Schools will contact families if practices or games are canceled or rescheduled. All other after-school activities are canceled. Central administration offices will remain open.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Schools

 

From the beginning, Pittsburgh Public Schools' Superintendent Anthony Hamlet says it's been his goal to improve students' mental health, address racial disparities and close the district's historically troubling achievement gaps. 

Among his 137-point strategic plan, Hamlet, who's responsible for 25,000 students across 54 schools, points to implementing restorative discipline, minimizing school suspensions and offering more time to staffers for collaborative learning and development.

Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law started this academic year with a new leader at its helm. Amy Wildermuth took over in July after working as a professor at the University of Utah.

Many law schools have struggled in recent years to maintain enrollment, leading some to change admissions requirements

Seth Wenig / AP

For some, free college is still an outrageous idea, but legislation introduced in June aims to supply just that.

Emma Lee / WHYY

Andrew Brooking’s future at Philadelphia’s Blaine Elementary seemed uncertain.

After four years teaching there, he was vying to become an assistant principal at the end of last school year, and figured that would mean an assignment elsewhere in the city.

But a conversation with a parent from the school’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood — one home to deep poverty and violent crime — helped him understand why he needed to stay.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Monday is the first day of school for a new Pittsburgh Public Schools early childhood classroom located in the Carnegie Science Center. The classroom will serve 20 children who were chosen through a randomized lottery, according to PPS.

Photo by Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA News

The Woodland Hills School Board on Thursday voted unanimously to renew two controversial security contracts.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Black students in Allegheny County are suspended at more than seven times the rate of their non-black peers. 

New PA School Safety Funding On Track For March 2019

Aug 16, 2018
Dana DiFilippo / WHYY

Pennsylvania state lawmakers say they’re awaiting feedback from the state’s 500 school districts and 300 private school entities before they can disburse the first wave of funding to improve school safety. They expect to distribute the money by March 2019.

The funds are part of Act 44, a bipartisan bill signed into law in the months after the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people.

Forget 'Kumbaya:' Camp Kids Help Fight Spotted Lanternfly

Aug 13, 2018
PA Dept. of Agriculture

Summer camp is a place for friendship bracelets, nature walks and bug juice.

But at one program in southeast Pennsylvania, children were given a whole new experience.

They were taught how to find, then crush the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect that has become enemy No. 1 in the state.

The weeklong program, themed Hunt for the Spotted Lanternfly, was created by Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos, a Pottstown group, in partnership with other organizations.

About 27 children and their families participated in the program that ended on a recent Friday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will begin a performance audit this month of transportation contracts and costs in the Pittsburgh Public School District.

The last audit of the district from his office was released in 2015 and did not cover transportation.

PPS has a dozen transportation contracts, something he said could be justified, but is concerning.

“One of the things we’re going to see is would it make sense to have only one vendor or potentially do it in-house,” he said. “Or to see maybe if that could be paired down.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Wolf administration is touting a new approach to coordinating with schools on the district level around the state.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Many thought lead in drinking water was a problem of the past — until the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, a few years back.

And then a U.S. Government Accountability Office survey polled school districts across the country on testing for lead in drinking water in 2017. Fewer than half of those surveyed did testing; of those that did, more than a third found elevated levels.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Republican State Senate Committee met with a group of school officials and school police officers from the western Pennsyvlania on Monday, to talk about what resources and support they need to keep schools safe.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Rebecca Smith teaches first grade at Whittier Elementary School in Duquesne Heights. She’s taught there for three years, and says there are challenges to being a new teacher, such as knowing what to prioritize.

Wolf, Wagner Spar Over Funding Formulas As Education Surges To Center Of PA Governor's Race

Aug 2, 2018
Emma Lee / WHYY

Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner released an attack ad Wednesday ripping Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf over education policy.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board approved a resolution Wednesday night opposing state or federal legislation that would arm teachers.

Martin Meissner / AP

An eastern Pennsylvania school district is investigating a teacher who portrays a Nazi villain named "Blitzkrieg" at local professional wrestling events.

The Spring-Ford Area School District launched the probe after video surfaced of Kevin Bean performing at a wrestling event in the Philadelphia suburbs. The video showed Bean, as Blitzkrieg, carrying a flag bearing the German Iron Cross and chanting the "Sieg Heil" Nazi salute.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The head of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will also lead a group within the agency that will administer $60 million for school safety funded in a new state budget package.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday tapped commission chairman Charles Ramsey to head up the new School Safety and Security Committee.

The panel is being asked to develop ways to protect teachers and students and will distribute the grants to districts and other entities.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said he was "stunned" by results of his audit on the Woodland Hills School District. 

Andrew Harnik / AP

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers President Nina Esposito-Visgitis told a crowd of educators from across the country Friday that Pittsburgh teachers are committing to the union in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Michael Rubinkam / AP

The price of being a student in the State System of Higher Education is getting steeper.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Mike McGrenehan thought he was headed for a life in the suburbs.

Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, not far from the city limits, McGrenehan always figured he’d marry, have kids, and ship off to the open spaces of suburbia. The “McMansion push,” he called it.

He moved to Montgomery County when he and his wife first married, but it never quite felt like home.

“When we left, we were out on an island,” he said.

After a few years, they moved back to Northeast Philly, had three kids, but reached another turning point when their oldest turned five.

Gov. Wolf Calls For Drastic School Funding Shake-Up In Surprise Announcement

Jul 2, 2018
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf called for a major change to the way Pennsylvania funds schools Friday, advocating for the state to distribute its largest pot of school money in a way that would benefit the majority of students in the state, but would likely cause deep cuts in many districts.

During questions at a press conference in Philadelphia, Wolf said the state should push all basic education money through the formula it adopted two years ago.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Bill Strickland stepped down July 1 from his role as the CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation 50 years after he founded the craftsmen’s guild.

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