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.

Pennsylvania Schools Need An Additional $4.6 Billion To Close Education Gaps, New Analysis Finds

4 hours ago
Heather Khalifa / Philadelphia Inquirer

Pennsylvania’s public school children are being shortchanged by $4.6 billion — and those in the poorest school districts, who have fallen the furthest behind, are owed the most, according to a new analysis commissioned by advocates seeking to overhaul the state’s education funding system.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Nearly 50 teachers and parents asked the city school district’s board Monday to reconsider its plan to return students to classrooms in-person on November 9.

Virginia Alvino-Young / 90.5 WESA

For seven months Sharifa has been at home with her family. The 18-year-old attends a Pittsburgh Public high school and like her peers, has been learning remotely since March, when the district moved online to slow the spread of the coronavirus. She’s learning English as a second language and says the disruption in her learning has been challenging and frustrating.

Francisco Seco / AP

 

On today's program: Parents deal with the challenges of online school; the pandemic is exacerbating educational inequality for already at-risk students; the lack of classroom, hallway and cafeteria socialization could negatively impact English language learners; and for Good Question, Kid! experts answer questions about language and geography.

WHYY File

A new bipartisan bill in Harrisburg would prohibit nearly two dozen universities in Pennsylvania from asking applicants about their criminal records.

Commonwealth Media Services

A state senator Wednesday called on officials of Pennsylvania’s system of public universities to prioritize solutions to address racism and inequity experienced by students of color as part of a larger planned restructuring.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Universities across the city have adjusted programs that were typically interactive to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Universities across the city have adjusted programs that were typically interactive to maintain social distancing guidelines during the pandemic.

Kathleen Davis / 90.5 WESA

When Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald rolled out his preliminary 2021 budget last week, he proposed a new county department: Children Initiatives.

But that proposed new department is based on an old idea — the Allegheny County Children’s Fund.

“You may recall a couple of years ago that residents put a … referendum question on the ballot to increase the millage to fund some pre-K and some early childhood initiatives,” Fitzgerald said to County Council members when he presented his budget proposal.

Michael Rubinkam / AP

School districts across the Pittsburgh region have reported cases of COVID-19 since the academic year began, causing some districts to temporarily close schools. There aren’t, however, any set rules from the state about how a school district informs parents about a positive COVID-19 case. As a result, communication polices vary district to district.

How Should PA Boost Student Learning During The Pandemic? Some Say Vouchers Are The Answer

Oct 6, 2020
Science Photo Library / Via AP Images

Pennsylvania school-choice advocates are pushing hard for a measure that would send federal coronavirus relief money directly to families to put towards private school tuition, tutoring, or other educational expenses.

Christine Armario / AP

The state's largest teachers' union says teachers should be meeting the needs of students, not preparing for standardized tests.

Google Maps

The former superintendent of a Pennsylvania school district and two other officials were charged Wednesday with felony child endangerment over allegations they knew about lead and asbestos contamination in the schools but failed to do anything about it.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

On today's program: Online schooling poses new challenges for students enrolled in special education courses; new learning environments put teachers under stress and impact their mental health; some parents are turning to learning hubs for childcare and help with school work; and for Good Question, Kid! a teacher answers students’ science questions. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

There’s new demand for daytime childcare for Allegheny County families, as most school districts are teaching students remotely either full- or part-time.

Seth Perlman / AP

 


On today's program: After a report found that Black students in Pittsburgh are referred to the juvenile justice system at much higher rates than their white peers, the Pittsburgh Board of Education says they will take steps to reimagine school safety; machine learning could help proactively identify children most at-risk for lead poisoning; and how fire hydrants ended up on trails in Frick Park.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Black students, especially Black girls, are disproportionately referred to the juvenile justice system by the Pittsburgh Public School district’s own police officers. Superintendent Anthony Hamlet says he plans to change that.

PA Schools Allowing More Sports Fans After Court Ruling

Sep 23, 2020
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Some Pennsylvania school districts are permitting more fans in the stands in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling that tossed statewide pandemic limits on crowd size, while legislative Republicans prepared Wednesday to renew their push to enshrine local control of school sports into law.

Marc Levy / AP

Gov. Tom Wolf will go through with a veto of a bill that would give school districts the sole ability to make decisions on sports, including whether and how many spectators to allow, he said Monday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

This summer, as protesters took to the streets to condemn racism and police brutality, two Pittsburgh Public Schools board members continued a longtime call for institutional change within the district.

Half Of PA Schools Still Don't Have A Single Teacher Of Color, Black Educators Explain Why

Sep 11, 2020
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

For Aliya Cantanch-Bradley, the fight for diversity and inclusion has been her life’s work.

Craig Mitchelldyer / AP

Some Pittsburgh Public Schools students experienced slow connections or none at all on the first day of online classes Tuesday. All classes are being held online through at least the first nine weeks of school.

Mark Stuckey, the district’s interim chief technology officer, said there was a configuration issue with the district’s Internet bandwidth provider, causing students to bottleneck through a smaller backup server when trying to access the district’s web resources. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 


On today's program: The University of Pittsburgh implemented a mandatory Black studies course to help students learn anti-racism; despite orders from the police chief, videos from some Pittsburgh protests have shown officers working without masks; and apprenticeships and technical schools welcome students back amid the pandemic.

Richard Drew / AP

About 18,000 Pittsburgh Public Schools students are enrolled in a visual arts class this fall. The district, though, did not purchase supplies to send to those students while they learn remotely for the first nine weeks of the school year.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Two days before the school year was scheduled to begin, Pittsburgh Public Schools delayed virtual learning until Sept. 8 because not all students have the needed technology.

Seth Perlman / AP

 


On today's program: A conversation with Pittsburgh-area superintendents about the start of the new school year; some parents turn to small-learning groups to supplement online learning; and local teachers anticipate this fall’s hurdles to education. 

Judge Blocks Rule That Moves Relief Funds To Private Schools

Aug 27, 2020
David Eggert / AP

A federal judge in California has blocked a rule that Michigan, seven other states and four big-city school districts said would unlawfully allow too much pandemic relief aid to be diverted from K-12 public schools to private ones.

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Public Schools

Just days ahead of the start of what will be an unusual school year, the Pittsburgh Public Schools board voted to renew Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s contract for another four years.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Four years after Superintendent Anthony Hamlet took the helm at Pittsburgh Public Schools, the school board is expected to vote Wednesday on whether he should lead the district through the 2025 school year.

Min Xian / WPSU

Penn State had to break up a large gathering of unmasked students apparently partying outside of dorms on the University Park campus Wednesday night, raising concerns in the community about the potential for COVID-19 outbreaks.

The get-togethers, documented on social media, defy the university’s rules requiring everyone to wear masks while in public spaces on campus and not to gather in groups. And, they came before classes start on Monday.

In a statement, Penn State President Eric Barron said the "behavior cannot and will not be tolerated.”

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