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.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Caseworkers with Allegheny County’s office of Children, Youth and Families continue to visit families face to face and investigate child abuse claims. Though operations haven’t considerably changed, there are concerns about children who are now “invisible.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

School districts across the state are figuring out how to create remote learning systems after Gov. Tom Wolf said schools would remain closed indefinitely. But some districts have held off, saying they were concerned they wouldn’t be able to teach all students – especially those with special needs.

April 1 is Census Day. That means it’s usually where you live on April 1 that you give as your address when you fill out the census

But coronavirus means Penn State students who would usually be in State College are spread far and wide. Penn State and the U.S. Census are trying to get word out that students should still be counted at their school address.  

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

More than 700 child care providers across Pennsylvania have been issued waivers to remain open if they care for children of essential workers. The state Department of Human Services launched a new tool Friday to help connect parents with those providers.

Courtesy Homeless Children's Education Fund

Prolonged school closures are expected to disproportionately impact children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera is “strongly encouraging” school districts to find ways to teach students while schools across the state are shut down.

Philly To Buy Laptops For Needy Students For Virtual Classes During Shutdown

Mar 25, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

Based on guidance from the federal government, the School District of Philadelphia is proceeding with a plan to offer more rigorous virtual instruction during the coronavirus shutdown —  a reversal from last week when it said equity concerns hampered its ability to provide mandated, graded learning.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Childcare is the most pressing issue next to access to personal protective equipment like masks, says Matt Yarnell the president of the state’s largest union representing health care workers.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

Child care providers across Pennsylvania face a choice in response to the state’s efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus: Close their doors, or seek permission to stay open.

Both options present risks.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday ordered all child care centers licensed by the state to close for at least 14 days. Initially, the order left providers “confused, frustrated and afraid,” said Diane Barber, executive director of the Pennsylvania Child Care Association.

Mt. Lebanon School District

Most Pennsylvania kids will be home for at least another week to help reduce the spread of coronavirus. New routines and new expectations could lead to a lot of questions and anxieties.

PA Cancels Standardized Testing Because Of Coronavirus

Mar 19, 2020
Seth Perlman / AP

The extraordinary decision to close schools statewide due to the coronavirus outbreak has prompted Pennsylvania to make another extraordinary decision:

The state will not administer standardized tests this year.

Philadelphia Schools, Citing Inequality, Won't Teach Online

Mar 18, 2020
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The Philadelphia School District will not offer remote instruction during the coronavirus shutdown, the superintendent announced Wednesday, citing equity concerns in a city where many students lack computers or high-speed internet at home.

Penn State Cancels In-Person Classes For Rest Of Semester

Mar 18, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Penn State University on Wednesday canceled in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester, citing the coronavirus pandemic, as state officials announced a 40% jump in the number of confirmed cases.

provided / Pittsburgh Public Schools

Nearly 1.7 million kids in Pennsylvania are out of school for at least the next two weeks as a preventative measure to ease the spread of coronavirus.

Gov. Tom Wolf made that call Friday afternoon. He said schools that don’t meet the state’s 180 instructional day requirement won’t be penalized, but it’s unclear if days will have to be made up. The state did say schools are not mandated to instruct students during the closure. Most schools plan to resume normal operation March 30.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Lakeiya Johnson got to sleep in a little Friday morning, but she’s not happy about it.

Last month, she took a big step toward stabilizing her life — starting a new job, her first in five years. The single mom had been sidelined by medical problems stemming from a brain aneurysm, and her full-time, $13-an-hour call center position promised the ability to give her three school-age children a better life

But Friday morning, Johnson, 41, was at home in Norristown with her kids, and her future employment was suddenly not so clear.

Allentown Schools Close As Temple U. Shifts To Online Class

Mar 12, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Temple University is adding itself to the growing number of colleges and universities in Pennsylvania that are sending students home because of the new coronavirus, while more positive tests cropped up in the state and Allentown city's schools shut down Thursday and Friday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools said an employee will be under self-quarantine for the next two weeks, though the district is not concerned the woman has exposed students or staff.

 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Propel McKeesport elementary teacher Timesha Cohen said she is uncomfortable talking about race in her classroom. But, she said she knows it’s vital for her students.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools district is working with the Allegheny County Health Department to develop an action plan in the event that a case of coronavirus is confirmed in the county.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

Enrollment at Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities has declined by 20 percent since the fall of 2010.

That falling enrollment looms large as lawmakers in Harrisburg look at how much to spend on universities in next year’s state budget.

“Our education is increasingly unaffordable,” Daniel Greenstein, chancellor for the State System of Higher Education, said during a House budget hearing on Tuesday. “…This is a direct reflection of funding levels.”

Courtesy of Clarion University

Pennsylvania's state-owned university system will implement a plan to reduce the size of their faculties by creating an early retirement incentive program.

At least 200 members of the faculty at the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education have indicated they will opt for the one-time incentive program, the system said in a statement Monday. The system's governing board approved the plan in January to align staffing with the decrease in student enrollment.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Nearly all Allegheny County students who receive free or reduced-price lunch are also eligible for free breakfast. A new report from Allies for Children and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank shows 61 percent of students who qualify for free breakfast in the area are getting it.

Min Xian / WPSU

For a second year, Pennsylvania’s School Safety and Security Committee has approved more than $60 million in school safety funding, which was announced Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency said demands for funding to improve safety in Pennsylvania schools remained strong.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

On average, Pennsylvania schools assign 400 students to every school counselor. That’s about 150 more students that the American School Counselor Association recommends.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members approved a resolution Wednesday that calls for the state’s General Assembly to significantly reform the way it funds charter schools.

Forget Penn And Pitt: Is This Little-Known School The Best Deal In PA Higher-Ed?

Feb 24, 2020
Bas Slabbers / Keystone Crossroads

In the world of higher education you will find few buildings less remarkable than the Delaware County Technical High School in Broomall, Pennsylvania.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

During a recent class at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children in Oakland, a teacher led six students in a semi-circle as they sang the alphabet song. Behind almost every student was another educator.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

During a recent lesson, Joe Welch asked his eighth grade American History students to identify issues they want to change in America. The North Hills Middle School students list everything from gun control to climate change.

Richard D. Kelly / Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

 

On today's program: A festival hopes to spark a lifelong love of reading; how rain contributes to barge accidents in the Ohio River watershed; flu season is still upon us, but the state and local data are confusing; a rock icon is staging a collaboration with Pittsburgh’s Mendelssohn Choir; dinosaurs are taking over the convention center this weekend; and what to expect from 90.5 WESA’s latest podcast. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A program meant to diversify the ranks of teachers at the Pittsburgh Public Schools could soon be re-launched. The program was postponed in October after issues surfaced with the partner university selected by the district.

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