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.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Teachers in Pennsylvania's capital city are asking for support after a series of violent altercations with students has led to multiple resignations.

The Harrisburg Education Association says at least 45 teachers have resigned since July and October. Association President Jody Barksdale says more have resigned since then.

Speaking at a school board meeting Monday evening, first-grade teacher Amanda Sheaffer says she has been hit and kicked by her students.

Cheyney University / Facebook

The nation's oldest historically black college will remain accredited after a state commission decided to work with the school, citing "significant progress" after a two-year probationary period.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In its latest annual report sent to 30,000 homes in the city, A+ Schools is drawing attention to persistent disparities within Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Martin Meissner / AP Photo

In 2014, a state task force was assembled to find out how many Pennsylvania schools teach its students about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations. Act 70 encouraged schools to teach about these subjects by providing free resources and training for teachers.

Three years later, the Pennsylvania Board of Education has found that 93 percent of public, charter and technical schools in the commonwealth reported some level of instruction on the topics. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of Carnegie Mellon University graduate students spent hours this week calling their elected representatives asking them to oppose a provision of the Congressional House Republican’s proposed tax reform bill

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A committee tasked with finding alternatives to suspending Pittsburgh students below third grade for non-violent offenses says the district needs more counselors, social workers and de-escalation training.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

When the steel mills closed, Mary Kay Babyak, the executive director of an education nonprofit, said she thinks parents didn’t see a future for the their children in blue-collar trade jobs.

“A number of these folks have a history of seeing their parents, their grandparents, their siblings losing positions and opportunities and great jobs,” she said. “So the idea was college will guarantee success. Which it doesn’t.”

Tyler James Titus / Tyler Titus for Erie School Board Facebook

A western Pennsylvania school board has a new, openly transgender member.

The Erie Times-News reports Tyler Titus won one of four open seats on the Erie School Board on Tuesday.

The Victory Fund, a political action committee dedicated to electing openly LGBT people, says 33-year-old Titus is the first openly transgender person ever elected in the state of Pennsylvania.

Titus is a clinical therapist and Democrat who won a write-in Democratic nomination in May.

Sarah Boden/ 90.5 WESA

More than 600 educators from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York gathered in McKees Rocks at Montour Elementary School on Tuesday for a conference on technology education.

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

A sweeping school code bill will become a state law without Gov. Tom Wolf's signature. 

In addition to providing funding for public schools, the GOP-penned legislation suspends the traditional seniority rules that dictate furloughing teachers, opting instead to eliminate teachers based on who scores the worst on the state's teacher effectiveness rating.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will allow a bill to become law that weakens teacher seniority protections and gives school districts more flexibility in their rationale for making layoffs.

School districts now will be able to cite “economic reasons” as a rationale for furloughing teachers.

Previously, districts could only slash staff by closing schools, cutting whole academic programs, or pointing to enrollment declines.

State Rep. Steven Bloom, R- Cumberland, said that’s bad public policy.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

A Pennsylvania school district is investigating complaints that students on a class trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum posted pictures making light of some exhibits.

Superintendent Ed Bowser of the Forest Hills School District said Friday officials are looking into social media posts from the senior class trip Wednesday to the Washington, D.C., museum.

Philadelphia Moves To Retake Control Of City School System

Nov 2, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

The mayor of Philadelphia on Thursday took steps to take control of the city's struggling public school system after 16 years of state oversight.

Mayor Jim Kenney said that it is time for the city to be accountable for the education of its 200,000 schoolchildren.

"If we don't take responsibility for the fate of our schools, then we will continue to relegate generations of Philadelphia's families to poverty," he said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools and the union representing its teachers and paraprofessionals are continuing negotiations as employees begin their fifth month working under a contract that expired at the end of June.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State funding for Penn State, Pitt and three other Pennsylvania universities is on its way after being held up for months by the Legislature's dispute over fully funding the state budget.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would alter a wide range of state policies related to public education — including the weakening of seniority protections for teachers.

The chamber agreed to the omnibus school code bill, as passed last week by the House of Representatives, by a vote of 35 to 15.  Now it will go before Gov. Tom Wolf, who says he has “serious concerns” about some of its provisions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

This is the first in a week long series exploring inequity in the Pittsburgh region. 

Jonnae Carter is painting a foam stamp she made. The 3-year-old’s braids swing as she shuffles behind a table telling anyone who will listen about shapes and colors and textures.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Toyosi Egbebi says she spends a lot of her free time taking things apart and trying to figure out how they work.

GoogleMaps

The boyfriend of a woman charged with attacking a Pittsburgh teacher with a brick has also been charged.

Twenty-six-year-old Vincent Beasley is charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and other crimes in the Oct 18 attack on 46-year-old Janice Watkins.

Police say Daishonta Williams and Beasley followed Watkins' vehicle as she left Pittsburgh Martin Luther King PreK-8 that afternoon.

GoogleMaps

A woman who claims a public school teacher choked her daughter while disciplining her has been charged with following the teacher after school, hitting her with a brick and then pulling her from her car and beating her.

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Police say an elementary school teacher was hit in the face with a brick and dragged from her car in Pittsburgh after a dispute with the parents of one of her students.

They say the attack happened around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday as 46-year-old Janice Watkins was leaving Pittsburgh King PreK-8 on the North Side.

Authorities say she was being followed by a couple in a SUV, and when she stopped at an intersection near the West End Bridge, the woman threw a brick at her.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than 200 teachers and staff at a Washington County school district plan to go on strike Wednesday saying proposed salary changes are unreasonable.

Ringgold School District, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, serves about 3,000 students from Monongahela and six other Mon Valley towns.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Students with developmental disabilities are learning job skills at a new Homestead café that opened Monday.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh research center devoted to the works of a theologian, who later became a Catholic cardinal, has finished the first part of a project to digitize his manuscripts.

Archivists in Birmingham, England worked for four years to take high-quality images of John Henry Newman’s unpublished writings on theology, education and philosophy. It will take another year to upload the nearly 30 terabytes of material to a website operated by the Pittsburgh-based National Institute for Newman Studies in Oakland.

Provided photo from Rosana Guernica

More than three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, many residents of the island are still struggling to gain access to clean drinking water, electricity and lifesaving medicines.

Chatham University

Chatham University anoints a new president for the first time in more than two decades this week. Dr. David Finegold will become the school's first male leader since the historically female-only college began accepting male graduate students in 1994.

A Harvard University graduate and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Finegold spent more than 30 years in higher education. He said he believes the school is well poised to continue its tradition of advocating for gender equity in a coed environment.

Daveynin / Flickr

Penn State says students who don't have up-to-date vaccinations won't be able to register for spring classes.

The Centre Daily Times reports the school announced Tuesday that it will place registration holds on students who aren't vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella. Students living in dorms must also be vaccinated against meningitis.

The vaccination requirements apply to all campuses except Penn State Great Valley, which is for graduate professional students and its online World Campus.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Days after negotiations to balance Pennsylvania’s late budget collapsed completely, lawmakers, the governor, and their staffers are still trading barbs over social media—and in more formal ways, too.

Nearly 80 House Republicans have signed a petition demanding Wolf issue approval letters to businesses for tax credits that go toward scholarships. The money is past-due under state law.

Both the Republicans and Democratic Wolf administration blame the problem on budget discord.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Sues Student Loan Company

Oct 5, 2017
Globe Newswire / AP

Pennsylvania's attorney general accused the nation's largest student loan company of engaging in abusive practices in a lawsuit filed Thursday that alleged it has improperly added billions of dollars in costs for borrowers.

The complaint in federal court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said Navient Corp. and subsidiary Navient Solutions LLC sold "risky and expensive" subprime loans and damaged borrowers and co-signers by failing to perform core loan servicing duties.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

UPDATED: Oct.5, 2017 at 9:25 a.m. 

Protesters from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church plan to march through Pittsburgh’s Oakland and Downtown neighborhoods Thursday afternoon, according to the group’s website.

Joe Miksch, University of Pittsburgh director of media relations, said the university is taking steps to ensure safety of students, faculty and staff.

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