Keystone Crossroads

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.

Bas Slabbers for Keystone Crossroads

Mike Kitsock never thought he’d still be fighting fires as a sexagenarian.

Bas Slabbers / Keystone Crossroads

Andrew Barrow sat down to dinner with his wife, his teenage daughter, and a gnawing question. What does it mean to be a ‘snowflake’? 

PA Provides Some Of The Worst Opportunities For Students Of Color, Report Says

Jan 21, 2020
Emma Lee / WHYY

Students of color in Pennsylvania are far less likely than their white peers to have access to small classes, certified teachers and advanced coursework, according to a pair of new studies.

The so-called “access” gap in Pennsylvania is among the nation’s largest, both studies claim, distinguishing the Keystone state as one of the America’s worst when it comes to educational equity for poor and non-white students.

Matt Smith / for Keystone Crossroads

In Matthew Derr’s “discovery classroom,” third graders watch tornadoes swirl around their classroom using augmented-reality technology.

Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads

On October 3, 2018, sometime before dawn, a toddler wandered alone from his home on the edge of a small Schuylkill County town and into a nearby car.

Responding to a neighbor’s call, police arrived to find the three-year-old wearing only a diaper that “was completely filled and was hanging down to his knees,” according to an officer’s notes.

The boy was taken to the borough police station a few blocks away.  Thirty-five minutes later, his mother showed up, searching for her son. 

British Family Detained In PA By ICE: 'We Will Be Traumatized For The Rest Of Our Lives'

Oct 15, 2019
Laura Benshoff / WHYY

A British couple and their 3-month-old son are being detained in a federal immigration facility in Pennsylvania after they say they accidentally strayed across the U.S.-Canada border.

Amid Trump's Trade War, PA Farmers Fight To Survive In An Uncertain Market

Oct 14, 2019
Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads

Don Cairns is driving through rural Chester County between one of his many plots of farmland. He grows corn, wheat, and soybeans on about 1,700 acres. It’s a hot, dry day — perfect for harvesting. He’s busy shuttling fresh-cut corn from the field back to his silos for storage.

In a sun-faded camouflage cap, a dusty brown t-shirt and blue jeans, Cairns lugs a large semi-truck hauling a grain trailer onto the cornfield. There, a combine outfitted with the latest technology analyzes the yields as it ploughs the field and shells the kernels from the cobs.

As PA Compensation Programs End, Church Victims Wrestle With The Price Put On Abuse

Oct 11, 2019
Natalie Piserchio / WHYY

Last year’s grand jury report detailing sexual assault allegations against 301 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania raised the question: how would the church respond?

Matt Smith for Keystone Crossroads

A former chairman of Pennsylvania’s Board of Education, Larry Wittig, has been permanently banned from US Olympic sports for sexual misconduct involving a minor.

Provided by attorney Christopher Casazza

Cruz Eduardo Tinoco Salvador was an obvious target for immigration officials. On his left hand, a tattoo read “Sur 13.” On his middle finger, three small dots indicated the same affiliation.

Will This Tweak In PA Law Send Student Test Scores Soaring?

Jul 22, 2019
John Locher / AP

Student test scores in Pennsylvania could spike next year — and a 90-word provision recently tucked into the state’s school code may be the reason why.

The language states that Pennsylvania will no longer count the standardized test scores of students who miss at least 20 percent of school days prior to the end of the state testing window.

Historic PA Law To Automatically Seal Millions Of Criminal Charges Starting Friday

Jun 27, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Forty million.

That’s the number of criminal charges in Pennsylvania that will be eligible for automatic sealing when the second phase of the state’s Clean Slate law kicks in Friday. 

1 In 3 Pennsylvania Households Struggle To Make Ends Meet, According To New Report

Jun 18, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Roughly one in three Pennsylvania households struggle to afford life’s basic necessities, according to a report released Tuesday by the United Way.

Matt Smith / for Keystone Crossroads

Even today, nearly 20 years after Bethlehem Steel declared bankruptcy, and decades after it began its slow decline, there’s no consensus why exactly the iconic company tanked.

Eastern Pennsylvania's Population Growth Bypasses Western PA

Apr 23, 2019
Carolyn Kaster / AP

The latest population estimates for the Keystone State, unveiled by the Census Bureau this week, show that Pennsylvania is growing — but not much, and not everywhere.

While the commonwealth added about 16,200 residents, it’s a slim increase for a state that now holds some 12.8 million residents and the growth was highly uneven.

Welcome To Turkeyfoot, PA — Home Of The State's Lowest Paid Teachers

Apr 22, 2019
Dani Fresh / Keystone Crossroads

Visit Somerset County in mid-March and you’ll hear it everywhere — you’ve got to see it in the summer.

A new bill in the state House would require every school district in Pennsylvania to test for radon and inform parents of the results.

Still Reeling From 2018 Rainfall, PA Farmers Offered Emergency USDA Loan

Apr 15, 2019
Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Pennsylvania had one of the wettest summers on record last year. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 2018 was the rainiest July in the past 124 years. 

'Invisible' Victims: Survivors Of Sexual Abuse By Nuns Demand To Be Counted

Apr 12, 2019
(Courtesy of Patricia Cahill)

When Patricia Cahill was 15, a nun who taught at a nearby Catholic high school invited her to perform at a hootenanny mass.

Rick Bowmer / AP

As a nationwide ban took effect this week, gun owners must immediately destroy or turn over their bump stocks after President Trump pushed the Justice Department to classify the controversial gun add-on as a type of illegal machine gun.

Min Xian / Keystone Crossroads

Kathy Wells started her career early. She didn’t get a chance to go to college after graduating from high school in rural, Northwestern Pennsylvania.

In her words, she grew up in a “large family, small area.”  

“Basically, you work,” Wells laughed. “You don’t go to school.”

'Hyperloop' Cargo From Philly To Pittsburgh? Officials Say It's Not That Far-Fetched

Mar 18, 2019
Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA via AP Images

Commercial goods packed in giant capsules and moving in vacuum-sealed steel tubes at nearly supersonic speeds from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh?

Cash For The Poor? General Assistance Welfare Again Under Threat In PA

Mar 8, 2019
Kimberly Paynter / AP

For the first time in decades, John Boyd feels hopeful about the future.

The Death Of Cyber Charter Schools In Pennsylvania?

Feb 15, 2019
Pat Wellenbach / AP

A proposal with potentially dire consequences for Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools re-emerged in Harrisburg this session.

Elaine Thompson / AP

A group representing rural Pennsylvanians says expanding high speed broadband internet access in the state needs to be a priority this year, but acknowledges funding for infrastructure upgrades continues to be a challenge.

Marc Levy / AP

Nearly a decade after being tasked with the assignment, a state commission is still grappling with a mandate to create a risk assessment algorithm for Pennsylvania judges to use during criminal sentencing procedures.

More Than Half Of PA Public Schools Do Not Have A Teacher Of Color

Nov 1, 2018
Emma Lee / WHYY

More than 60 years after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, an analysis of state data shows persistently stark disparities between the racial composition of teachers and students in Pennsylvania’s schools — among the widest gaps in the country.

Abby Drew/Centre Daily Times via AP and

Around Luzerne County, a former hotbed of coal mining, most signs don’t say “Barletta for U.S. Senate.”

They say “Lou for Senate” or “Lou Digs Coal.”

Philly Program Teaches Defendants How To Help Themselves

Oct 5, 2018
Bastiaan Slabbers / Keystone Crossroads

 It was an early autumn afternoon in 1975 -- a moment that Steve Austin wishes he could take back.