Education

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

Gateway School District / Facebook

School police officers sworn into the Gateway School District were equipped with firearms for the first time after the district’s petition for an armed force was approved Tuesday. The district plans to have an armed officer at each of the district’s seven schools.

A similar petition was denied in September by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Reilly who said the school board did not think the decision through and officers did not have enough training. The school board is still appealing that verdict.

Yoshimitsu Kurooka / flickr

A new program aims at rewarding Pittsburgh employers who hire Pittsburgh Promise scholarship recipients.

Councilman Corey O'Connor announced the program on Monday. Businesses that hire Pittsburgh Promise alumni would be eligible for grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Companies must hire a college graduate for full-time employment and retain the employee for at least six months. O'Connor says the money will benefit employers and employees. 

Katie Meyer / WITF

Professors at Pennsylvania’s 14 state colleges and universities have voted to approve a contract agreement between the union that represents them and the state school system that employs them.

That contract was hard-fought—a standoff over its terms culminated in a three-day faculty strike in October.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

Approximately 190 Ambridge Area School District teachers are on strike.

Schools are closed Tuesday after educators in the Beaver County district walked off the job following months of contract negotiations. The school board and teachers' union remain at odds over salaries and health benefits.

Specifically, the district says the teachers pay only $25 per month for full family health care coverage, and are balking at a proposed increase in their share of the monthly premium.

The teachers' contract expired in June 2015.

Eugene Tanner / AP

Nathan Rosswog showed his eighth grade students a photo of his grandfather, a World War II veteran. The Urban Pathways Charter School teacher told them his grandfather wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, but shared stories of friends he knew who were at the naval base during the attack.

Brian Cantoni / Flickr

A former University of Pittsburgh student who pleaded guilty to being the go-between for Chinese students who paid to have impostors take college entrance exams for them faces sentencing before a federal judge.

Han Tong faces up to three years in prison on Monday, though his attorney is expected to argue for leniency.

Tong is one of 15 Chinese citizens charged by federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh last year with conspiring to have impostors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or other college entrance tests in western Pennsylvania since 2011.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne Elementary School kindergarten teacher Breanne Dolby thought she was bringing her students to the library for a “surprise guest reader” last Tuesday. Instead, she was awarded $1,500, a customized Steelers jersey and tickets to the New Year’s Day game.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Before heading to the practice field, Westinghouse High School football players met in a classroom, where Coach Monte Robinson read questions from a notecard about alcohol and sexual violence. He told them to be honest.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fae Kenney is considering moving her children to a charter school.

Her children are in the McKeesport Area School District. She said when they come home at the end of the day and she asks what they learned, she doesn’t like their answers.

“My youngest child, her school is more one-on-one with her, so she always has something to say about school,” she said. “My other two are just, ‘Well, we just learned whatever the teacher put on the board.’”

Considering pulling them from their neighborhood public schools is a complicated and stressful decision, she said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A report released Monday from the education advocacy group A Plus Schools found that suspensions and chronic absenteeism continue to be a barrier to learning in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Yoshimitsu Kurooka / flickr

A western Pennsylvania school district has averted a teachers' strike after an overnight bargaining session resulted in a tentative contract.

Teacher in the Greensburg-Salem School District has planned to strike Wednesday morning, halting classes for nearly 3,000 students in this district 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.

Pine-Richland School District Asks Judge To Dismiss Bathroom Policy Suit

Nov 15, 2016
Toby Talbot / AP

 

A western Pennsylvania school district wants a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by three transgender students challenging a rule requiring students to use either unisex restrooms or those corresponding to their biological sex.

The Pine-Richland High School students, two who now identify as female and one who identifies as male, sued in October.

They contend the district let students use restrooms based on their gender identities until the school board changed the practice in September until it can adopt a formal policy.

Marcus Charleston / WESA

Giordan Dixon, 16, stuck to his script at the new Homewood – Brushton YMCA on Bennett Street in Homewood South.

“I want to be a singer and a music producer,” he said, guiding small tours.

Joshua Rice / Pittsburgh Public Schools

Many of Tim Mielke’s students are too young to remember previous presidential elections.

The ninth grade social studies teacher at Taylor Allderdice High School said his challenge this year has been explaining the unique aspects of this election by comparing it to previous election cycles.

Allderdice was one of 13 local high schools that participated in a mock election organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Black Pittsburgh Public students are far behind their white counterparts regardless of economic status, according to a report from Greenways Strategy Management.

Lead consultant Martha Greenway told school board members this week that the disparity was the most critical issue the district faces.

Nationally, there isn’t often a gap in achievement between black and white students who are economically disadvantaged, she said.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Classes have resumed for more than 100,000 students who attend Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities.

Rich Copeland / WITF

  The union representing striking professors at 14 Pennsylvania state universities says it has reached a tentative contract agreement and is ending its walkout, now in a third day.

The strike had disrupted classes for over 100,000 students.

Professors walked off the job Wednesday after the union turned down what the university said was its last contract offer.

Union spokeswoman Kathryn Morton said Friday it had made concessions on salary and benefits in return for the university system withdrawing proposed contract changes faculty had opposed.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools students are graduating from high school at lower rates than the national average, according to state and national reports.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Penn State's former president says he issued a statement calling criminal charges against two of his lieutenants groundless because he'd known and worked closely for them for 16 years.

Graham Spanier testified Thursday in the defamation and whistleblower lawsuit against the university by former assistant football coach Mike McQueary.

Spanier compared former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director

Tim Curley to Boy Scouts, saying they had a history of being completely straightforward with him.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

 

Professors, students and supporters are taking to picket lines at state universities around Pennsylvania, including dozens at Slippery Rock University.

Matt O'Brien / AP

Two Pittsburgh area school districts—one thought of as affluent, the other, not so much—are partnering to tackle a common problem for young children from poor families:  a huge disparity, not just in financial resources but also in vocabulary.

“We’re looking at how we can really reduce the 30 million word gap,” said Megan Cicconi, the director of instructional innovative leadership in the Fox Chapel School District.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In a time of shrinking school budgets, arts education sometimes takes a back seat to academics. In order to introduce students to arts not often taught in schools, the Pittsburgh Promise hosted a series of immersive dance and music classes taught by local artists.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public officials have installed between three and six water bottle filling stations in each the district's 54 schools after finding 141 water fixtures texted positive for elevated levels of lead.

Plum Borough School District

  A western Pennsylvania school board is preparing to release a report on how administrators handled reports and rumors that teachers were having sex with students.

The Plum School board has moved its Tuesday night meeting to the junior high school to accommodate a larger-than-normal crowd.

Flickr user hradcanska

A group of Pine-Richland school district alumni is planning to protest the district’s transgender bathroom policy at tonight’s school board meeting.

In early September, the board passed a resolution requiring students to use either the bathroom that matches their biological sex or a unisex bathroom.

But Molly Steadman, who is organizing the protest, said that policy is akin to the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept public schools legally segregated until 1954.

Duquesne University

 

Law school dean and legal scholar Ken Gormley has taken the helm as president of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

The 61-year-old lawyer and professor was installed Thursday as the 13th president of the 137-year-old private, Catholic school.

Gormley was hired as a law professor at Duquesne in 1994 after first teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and practicing privately. He's been dean of the law school since 2010.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

An audience of about 50 people watched uncomfortably as a man named Jon confessed he raped a girl in high school.

The confession was actually part of a scene in the play, “Tape,” a story about sexual assault, performed at the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The play follows the character Jon’s confession to his friend, Vince, that he raped a woman 10 years earlier. In the play, the two men both dated the woman, Amy, in high school.

Canon McMillan School District

  A public school cafeteria worker has quit over what she considers a "lunch shaming" policy in one western Pennsylvania school district.

Stacy Kotiska says she quit last week after she had to take a hot lunch away from a child because their parent had fallen more than $25 behind in paying for his school lunches.

The Canon-McMillan School District enacted the policy to deal with a backlog of about 300 parents who owed tens of thousands of dollars. Now fewer than 70 parents owe money, and the district says the policy isn't meant to shame students.

Michael Conroy / AP

When the for-profit college ITT Technical Institute ceased operations this month, officials at the Community College of Allegheny County decided to help.

“This is a group of people who are just blindsided by this, they have an interest in moving forward and maybe we can help,” CCAC Provost Stuart Blacklaw said.

Blacklaw said CCAC has several programs similar to ones offered at ITT.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools students are getting hands-on education for careers in emergency medical services, firefighting and the police force this year.

Students from across the district can take the course at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood. Fifteen are enrolled this year. City and school officials said the hands-on training will help prepare a new class of workers and could help to diversify the city’s police force and fire departments.

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