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.

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.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The annual report Kids Count shows the Commonwealth fares better than most by making gains in education, but continues to show poor numbers in economic well-being.

Better Security, Student Services Sought By Schools

Jun 26, 2018
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration issued its findings Tuesday from six school safety task force field hearings set up in the wake of February's high school shooting in Florida, with better security, training and student services at the core of what the school community is seeking.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pennsylvania is starting a program proposed by state Treasurer Joe Torsella to provide college savings accounts for newborns, beginning with a $100 grant.

Torsella said Monday the program will be open to any child starting next year who is a Pennsylvania resident at birth or adopted by a Pennsylvania family. Parents will be notified about the account set up for them.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the program into law Friday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Woodland Hills School District has ranked among the top 10 districts nationwide for elementary school suspensions. Two years ago, several district and school leaders were sued by former students for incidents of alleged abuse at the hands of a former school police officer and a former high school principal.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Emerson Botts is full energy in the morning. Skipping down the sidewalk on the three-block walk to her school, she tells her mom how sad she is that the school year is ending.

Pennsylvania Eyes Statewide School Threats Reporting System

Jun 7, 2018
Wilfredo Lee / AP

Pennsylvania's Senate advanced legislation on Wednesday to set up a state-administered program to take anonymous reports of dangerous activities or threats of violence in schools, as lawmakers explore improvements to school safety spurred by February's school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people.

Senators approved the bill unanimously, modeling the program on the Safe2Tell program created in Colorado after 1999's Columbine school shooting.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Pennsylvania high school students may soon be facing a new test on civics knowledge, but they won't have to pass it in order to graduate.

The House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for a bill that mandates a locally developed test of U.S. history, government and civics.

Those who get a perfect score will qualify for a certificate developed by the state Education Department.

Schools will have to report how many students were deemed to have passed the test.

Supporters say there's an alarming lack of civics knowledge among American adults.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A group of local organizations is hoping to include a referendum on the ballot in November to increase property taxes in order to pay for early childhood education programs. 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

A local immigrant inclusion initiative, All for All, is recruiting English as A Second Language teachers to participate in a year-long professional development program.

AP

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency is digging into its reserves to keep money flowing into a grant program for Pennsylvania college students in the coming fiscal year.

However, they’re warning this could mean little or no money for the effort the following year.

PHEAA manages hundreds of billions of dollars in federal and commercial student loans, and pumps some of the revenue from it into the grant program.

But money is tight right now, so the group had planned to cut its $100 million contribution in half.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Members of a group working to address challenges faced by black girls told the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education that sexual harassment is a pervasive issue within the district.

Ted S. Warren / AP

A director at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been chosen as the new chancellor of Pennsylvania's 14 state universities.

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education announced Monday that Daniel Greenstein will assume leadership of the system on Sept. 4.

Greenstein has worked with the Gates Foundation for the past six years and was previously a top administrator in the University of California system.

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

It’s a Friday afternoon and a group of high school students crowd around a computer screen, watching audio levels rise and fall. Behind the window of a recording booth, another student is reading from a children’s book. But the teens aren’t reading directly to a child. They’re creating audiobooks, so blind and visually impaired children can access literature.

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