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Could Institutional Racism Be At The Root Of Achievement Gaps Plaguing Pittsburgh-Area Schools?

Jessica Kourkounis
Keystone Crossroads

Lowered expectations, implicit bias and socioeconomics can all contribute to disparities in academic performance, which the state department of education shows is happening in more than half of all Allegheny County schools. 

Mary Niederberger contributed to a package of recent stories for PublicSource on achievement gaps in Pittsburgh-area public and charter schools, blending solutions from districts like Gateway and others with state data. Gateway superintendent William Short and University of Pittsburgh researcher Dana Thompson Dorsey, whose staff helps lead training on implicit bias and cultural relevance, join Niederberger on 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence to discuss what they're finding and possible solutions.

Credit Courtesy of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
John Wible is the curator of mammals at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland.

Elsewhere in the program:

Millions of Americans participate in NCAA March Madness brackets every spring, but this year, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History entered the tournament in a decidedly different way. Mammal curator John Wible explains the nerdy phenomena of March Mammal Madness, which pits big cats and other critters against tag teams in a tournament-style contest held annually in tandem with its collegiate basketball companion. Wible, who says he won this year's office pool, talks about this year’s winner and new research about mammals before and after the extinction of dinosaurs.

And scientists studying insects in places like Germany and Puerto Rico have reported massive losses, with some as high as three-fourths of the insect population disappearing over the last 25 years. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple spoke with John Wenzel, a career entomologist and director of Powdermill Nature Reserve to find out what’s known and unknown about insect declines across the globe. 

90.5 WESA's Mick Stinelli and Julia Zenkevich contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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