Education

We cover how our residents are growing and learning, starting from pre-K, through higher education, and beyond, into adulthood. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

On Saturdays, local teens take over the state-of-the-art recording studios on Carnegie Mellon University’s campus to lay down tracks about their lives and the people in them.

The program, Arts Greenhouse, started as a community project at the Center for the Arts in Society.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Bonnie Isaac held up a piece of cardstock with a leaf glued to it. It was a large-seeded-forget-me-not that was collected in 1995 in Greene County. The botanist said it was the first specimen found in Pennsylvania.

“We considered listing it as rare or endangered, but when we started looking around we thought there’s just too much of it out there so we decided not to list it,” she said. “But it’s a fairly new thing.”

Brian Cohen

Leaders from local colleges and universities met last week to pledge protection for sexual assault victims amid national concerns about the fate of Title IX under the Trump administration.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

A national program launched by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to support maker space development in schools is taking on a new set of national and local partners.

In 2015, the museum launched a year-long pilot program, Kickstarting Making, that supported 10 local schools in raising funds for maker space efforts. 

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Kenyale Cottingham has always wanted to help people. That’s why she’s training to become a paramedic.

“I feel like saving people’s lives will make everybody happy,” said the Westinghouse High School junior.

Cottingham is one of 15 students receiving paramedic training as part of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Career and Technical Education, or CTE, Emergency Response Technology program.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State House members kicked off their third and final week of budget hearings with an all-day Q&A with education officials.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed plan includes a $100 million boost for general education funding, which returns the allocation almost to its 2011 peak.

But talk has centered on what’s getting cut.

With the commonwealth facing a nearly $3 billion structural deficit, the 2017-18 budget proposal is significantly leaner than Wolf’s last two.

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera noted, that put his department under some pressure.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Last school year, Sto-Rox High School was on its fourth principal in nine years and teachers struggled to manage a disorderly student body.

The Sto-Rox School District, just west of Pittsburgh, serving 1,300 students from McKees Rocks and Stowe township, had spent years plagued by high turnover in leadership, leaving teachers stretched thin.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says she's planning to introduce legislation Tuesday to create a task force charged with finding funding for children otherwise unable to attend preschool.

Citing a 2016 Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers report, Rudiak said 1,500 Pittsburgh children do not have access to full-day preschool deemed "high quality" by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS initiative. The standards evaluate programs for staff qualifications, curriculum, facility environment and community and family involvement, among other things. 

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated: 1:53 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools District says it is committed to supporting transgender students and has not changed its nondiscrimination policy following the Trump administration’s move to rescind protections.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fifth grader Jaylen Hocker popped up from his front row seat at the O’Reilly Theater. He walked onto the stage, held up a hand to block the bright theater lights from his eyes and waited for the OK from a panel of judges before he began. 

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew," he said, reciting William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Recently, several of Renee Christman’s English as a second language students have asked her what the word “illegal” means.

Many of her students at Paynter Elementary School in Baldwin are refugees and she said they’re aware of President Donald Trump’s immigration orders and that their parents are concerned. Her students collectively speak eight languages and about 15 to 20 different languages are spoken in the Baldwin-Whitehall school district.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

The city of Zumala sits on the Nile Delta. Edible mushrooms feed on plastic waste and plants filter the water for residents and businesses. Suspended tubular trains carry the city’s 300,000 people from place to place, high above the buildings.

The fictional city cost less than $100 to build and was designed by 10 middle-schoolers.

alamosbasement/ Flickr

The union representing Pittsburgh Public School teachers is offering resources explaining how they can help immigrant and refugee children whose families are at risk of deportation.  

Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, said teachers have asked the union for ways they could support their students.

Hans Pennink / AP

According to some school administrators, we’re entering truancy season -- the time when schools start taking action on students who have racked up too many missed days.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Brentwood Middle School geography teacher Casey Phillips was scared to take a step forward, lest he fall 64 stories from the top of the U.S. Steel Tower to the street below.

“That’s how realistic it is,” he said. “That is nuts.”

Phillips wasn’t really standing atop the building in downtown Pittsburgh, but it felt like he was because of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset he was wearing.

Gregory Bull / AP

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is bracing itself for changes spurred by financial troubles.

The Reading Eagle reports enrollment at the 14 state-owned universities has dropped by nearly 15,000 students since 2010. Pennsylvania schools are also receiving ten percent less in state sponsored aid this year.

State budget constraints offer even less hope for the system.

Butler School District Sued Over Lead Levels In Water

Feb 9, 2017
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A western Pennsylvania school district where high levels of lead in an elementary school's water went unresolved for months faces a federal lawsuit.

The school, Summit Elementary, was closed for two days in January after Butler School District Superintendent Dale Lumley said he learned the problem hadn't been rectified since it was detected in August.

The school has since been closed indefinitely for unrelated problems with E. coli in the wells from which the school's water is drawn, and its students began classes Monday in another previously shuttered building.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

A small group of students at Propel Montour are eating their way around the world this year. It’s not a new cafeteria option, it’s a lesson in inclusion.

The idea for the Taste the World program, run by school integration specialist Robyn Doyle, started simply enough.

“It stemmed from students just sharing interests in what I was bringing for lunch,” Doyle said.

The group meets once a week during lunch hour. Each student had to submit a short essay as to why he or she should be chosen to be part of the group.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 8, 2016 at 2:17 p.m.

As many as 300 local high school students gathered Downtown and marched to Sen. Pat Toomey's Station Square office Wednesday to voice their displeasure over Department of Education Secretary pick Betsy DeVos.

Matt Rourke / AP

Federal authorities say two rare, early 19th century notebooks have been returned to a Philadelphia college after they were stolen from a collection sometime between 1965 and 2006.

The documents, from 1809 and 1811, were part of a set of four journals belonging to the Stephen Girard Collection at Girard College. School officials discovered the volumes were missing at some point last decade.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Emmaline Thompson, 9, danced around the dining room table with her 3-year-old sister and the family’s pitbull as her mom prepared dinner. Her mom, Rebecca Maclean, gathered the kids and made them sit at the table to watch as Emmaline opened a letter from the Pittsburgh Public School District.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A group of 75 teachers, parents and administrators have finished reviewing options for a new literacy curriculum for Pittsburgh Public School Kindergarten through fifth grade students.

Just last month, Angela Allie joined Pittsburgh Public Schools as the Executive Director of Equity. A PPS graduate herself, Allie said she always knew she'd return to the district where she started her education. 

The Pittsburgh native formerly taught English at Oliver High School in the North Side and served most recently as principal of Propel’s Andrew Street High School in Munhall.

She said her focus has always been education justice for traditionally under-served students.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools has released a request for proposals for the sale and development of nine vacant school buildings and 13 parcels of land. Sale of just the buildings could bring nearly $5 million to the school district's coffers.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

What little difference four years can make.

Students at Kenderton Elementary have seen five principals and heard countless broken promises in fewer years.

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

 

A diverse group of very young students sit cross-legged for story time at Rose Avenue elementary in Toronto.  The kids are joyful, yet focused, and the group is small enough that the two teachers in the room are able to give one-on-one attention when needed.  

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

When Erica Brunato decided to become a teacher in Ontario, she knew the road ahead would be long and steep.

“We all knew coming into this program — even just applying for the program — what it was going to be like, right? And I said, ‘I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.’ So that didn’t stop me,” she said.

Compared to Pennsylvania, teacher preparation in Ontario is more rigorous and the job market is much more competitive.

Ian Willms / For Keystone Crossroads

 

Eight year-old Sirvat Labiba emigrated with her family from Bangladesh to Ontario, Canada when she was three. She lives in the Crescent Town neighborhood of Toronto with her mother, father and little sister in a high-rise apartment tower.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

For the third straight year, the Pittsburgh Public School’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a general budget without a tax increase.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education formally approved contracts with the union representing more than 5,000 faculty members and coaches at the 14 state-owned universities.

The contracts signed Tuesday were already approved by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties following the union's first-ever strike in October.

More than $77 million in raises were handed out as part of the contracts, which are retroactive to July 2015.

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