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.

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.

Those Challenging Fairness Of PA School Funding Will Have Day In Court

Oct 2, 2017
Brad Larrison for NewsWorks, file

In a decision that could eventually shake Pennsylvania's educational landscape, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a lawsuit challenging the commonwealth's public school funding system can move forward.

The court did not compel the state Legislature to redistribute money — not yet. It simply said the judiciary can consider whether legislators have satisfied clauses in the state Constitution that require Pennsylvania to provide equal protection under the law and a "thorough and efficient system of public education."

The Office of Governor Tom Wolf / flickr

Pennsylvania's highest court is reviving a lawsuit that says the state is failing in its obligation to provide an adequate education to public school students.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Nineteen Pittsburgh-area colleges and universities are partnering with the Pittsburgh Promise to offer students who receive the scholarship an additional $2,000 a year for room and board costs.

Commuter colleges that don’t provide housing and have signed the agreement will offer funding for books rather than housing.

In exchange, the Pittsburgh Promise has agreed to promote these schools to students who receive the scholarship. Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said the funding is another attempt to remove barriers that prevent students from completing a degree.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than a million classrooms in the United States do not have access to Wi-Fi. That statistic from the nonprofit Education Superhighway is quoted in a new documentary that details the digital divide in American classrooms.

Ideological Debate Over Low-Performing School Underlies PA's Education Compliance Plans

Sep 25, 2017
Alex Brandon / AP

Every state in the U.S. was required to submit a proposal to the federal government by last week on how it will comply with the new federal education law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Clarion University / Facebook

The acting president of state-owned Clarion University says the school no longer plans to notify faculty of layoffs at the end of this academic year.

Clarion was one of five of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities that announced in March that layoffs and program cuts could occur in the 2018-19 school year, as the State System of Higher Education struggles generally with an enrollment drop.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, a construction crew in Bridgeville is finishing the tech wing of the new Chartiers Valley High School.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen people rallied outside of the Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

In any contentious debate, getting two sides to agree to the same set of facts can be an elusive, frustrating endeavor.

There are more nonwhite teachers than there used to be. But the nation's teaching force still doesn't look like America. One former education school dean is out to change that.

New research shows that the number of K-12 teachers who belong to minority groups has doubled since the 1980s, growing at a faster rate than the profession as a whole. But big gaps persist, with around 80 percent of teachers identifying as white.

New Report On PA Charter School Growth Finds ‘Stranded Costs’ Linger 5 Years Later

Sep 14, 2017
Emma Lee / WHYY, file

A new study finds that expanding the charter school sector in Pennsylvania creates a significant toll on traditional public school systems, which, based on an array of fixed costs, can't downsize at the same rate that students leave.

Always Shooting / Flickr

University of Pittsburgh graduate students who want to form their own union say they’ll have enough signatures by the end of the semester to ask the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to put the issue to a vote. For the union to become reality, a majority of the more than 2,000 graduate students employed by Pitt would have to approve the measure formally.

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The West Mifflin School Board approved the terms of a settlement Thursday night in a special meeting, ending a years-long legal fight over funding with the state Department of Education.

The district argued that neighboring Duquesne School District wasn’t paying enough to send students to West Mifflin.

Duquesne began sending students to West Mifflin in 2007 when the state closed the financially distressed high school because of low test scores. Five years later junior high students also transferred to West Mifflin.

Heatray / Bigstock

What's the point of public school? To foster academic and critical thinking skills? To prepare students for the workforce?

A long-running national poll says a large majority of Americans are willing to sacrifice the former for the latter.

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Nearly two months after the state's budget deadline, lawmakers still haven't reached a consensus on how to pay for the spending plan they authorized in June.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Kindergartners dressed in blue shirts and khakis sit on the gym floor of Allegheny K-5 with their classmates. A few are visibly nervous, but the moms and dads standing around them are the ones shedding tears.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie Mellon University will publish an anthology of poetry and prose pieces in the fall, written by high school and college students. They're winners of the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards, which started in 1999. 

90.5 WESA's Sarah Schneider spoke to the CMU English professor and the director of the program, Jim Daniels, about compiling the pieces. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

SARAH SCHNEIDER: What do you encourage students to write about?

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Gina Murphy pulls box after box from shelves in her Brookline Elementary School classroom. Each one is a hodgepodge of toys, fabrics and flashcards.

Point Park University

The faculty of Point Park University have reached a tentative agreement for their first ever union contract.

Faculty voted to join the Communication Workers of America, or CWA, in 2003, a decision which the university continued to appeal until 2015.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Five former Woodland Hills School District students filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning in the U.S. District Court alleging the district and administration perpetuated a culture of abuse, perpetrated by the former high school principal and a school resource officer.

Cheyney University / Facebook

Pennsylvania's state-owned university system has agreed to forgive $30 million in loans to a financially struggling historically black college if the school can maintain a balanced budget over the next four years.

Gerry Broome / AP

Professors at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania have come out in support of a petition urging the school to revoke the honorary degree of President Donald Trump after he said both sides were to blame for the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Kelly McCoy, a recent graduate of the private university in Bethlehem, started the change.org petition. Trump received his honorary degree after he served as commencement speaker in 1988.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

A powerful coalition of Pennsylvania lawmakers is promoting a forthcoming education savings account (ESA) bill that would allow hundreds of thousands of students in the state to use public money to pay for private school tuition.

The proposal could dramatically alter the state's K-12 education landscape, potentially siphoning away about a fifth of the state's overall support for public schools.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Officials with the Ellis School, a private all-girls preparatory school in Shadyside, said their decision to switch cleaning contractors earlier this month was because of performance issues, not wages, as the union representing the school’s former cleaners has suggested.

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