Education

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

Mark Goebel / Flickr

A Hershey boarding school for low-income students is calling for greater transparency and dialog from public and private schools on how much they spend on student health.

The new position paper from the Milton Hershey School recommends greater collaboration between schools and health institutions like hospitals and nonprofits, as well as more research on the special physical and mental health needs of children living in poverty.

Courtesy of George Junior Republic

A Mercer County school for delinquent youths will cut costs this summer by eliminating its 40-year-old equestrian program to add other activities.

The equestrian program at George Junior Republic School in Grove City consists of 16 horses and a staff with an operating cost of more than $250,000 annually. 

“A delinquent youth spends an average of nine months at the school,” said the school’s CEO, Rick Losasso. “When you think about the actual utilization and the costs associated to it, that goes into our decision-making process.”

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Updated 4:35 p.m. March 14, 2016.

Robert Morris, 15, glanced across the street and back down.

“I think everybody’s just a little tense right now,” the Propel Braddock Hills High School freshman said. 

Morris heard the gun shots before 11 p.m. Wednesday while watching television with his dad. He rolled off the couch into a ball, "to make myself as small as possible," he said.

Describing the scene, Morris looked again across the street where police say six people died from gunshot wounds sustained in an ambush-style attack.

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As environmental news has garnered more attention in recent years, Point Park University will now have the opportunity to obtain environmental journalism degrees. 

The new degree, available to undergraduate and graduate students, will be offered in the fall of 2016.

Students will be able to focus on print or broadcast and will pair journalism classes with classes in environmental sciences, like ecology and biology, according to School of Communications Chair Thom Baggerman.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 160 area students toured the U.S. Department of Energy's Technology Laboratory Wednesday as part of President Obama's Brother's Keeper initiative to address opportunity gaps in science, technology, engineering and math fields. 

Students were encouraged to pursue those fields with hands-on activities, such as experimenting with liquid nitrogen and testing acid voltage of fruits and vegetables. Researchers also talked to students about the lab's work in energy and environmental research and development with the focus of providing clean energy. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

  Last May, Governor Tom Wolf held a news conference in front of the Camp Hill state prison in Cumberland County.

He was joined by Corrections Secretary John Wetzel and a handful of district attorneys, all pushing for a $120 million funding increase — not for prisons — but for preschool.

“These are the first steps to what I have as a four-year goal to fully fund early childhood education,” Wolf said.

Brett Levin / Flickr

  School superintendents holding out hope for an end to the state budget impasse may have to accept closing their doors, state Budget Secretary Randy Albright said Friday.

Albright's forbidding instructions outline nearly a dozen steps for school districts managing their own demise.

"We don’t expect anything until maybe later in the month of March or early in the month of April," he said. "We don’t know when that will occur. It’s something that we continue to simply monitor."

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

In Pennsylvania, fourth graders from middle and upper class families are more than twice as likely as their peers from low income families to score advanced or proficient on standardized reading tests, mirroring the nationwide trend. 

Over the last 40 years, family income has overtaken race as the best predictor of student achievement. Among Pittsburgh Public Schools, the general trend holds true. Schools serving more low-income students have lower test scores. But in part two of our three-part Life of Learning series, we report on one public school that has found a strategy for improving student achievement across the board.

Sunnyside Elementary School special education teacher Jennifer Barger said she never realized how powerful data could be, until her students started tracking their own.

The good news: over the last 40 years, the achievement gap between black and white students has narrowed substantially.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 50 of the 550 students at University Preparatory School in the Hill District are learning the skills of effective leaders.

Teachers at the school selected students they felt were listened to by their peers. Now they're aiming to have those students lead the way toward a more positive school climate.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In the eight months without a state budget, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel is calling for service providers to back Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed funding of early education.

The Ellis School

In the year 2113, a city in the Katmandu Valley of Nepal will be surrounded by an earthquake mitigation system and crisscrossed by underground pneumatic tubes that will zip solid waste right out of your house. 

At least that is what a group of seventh and eighth graders at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh will be presenting next week at the national Future City competition.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

  The Pittsburgh Board of Education has posted the application for the district’s next superintendent, officials announced Friday.

The board held seven community forums in January inviting public input for the district’s next leader after current superintendent Linda Lane chose to let her contract expire in June after five years as superintendent.

Alberto G. / Flickr

 

The state Senate approved a House-passed bill Thursday, delaying the requirement that Pennsylvania high school students pass standardized tests in order to graduate. 

This will give lawmakers more time to review and make changes to the Keystone Exams.

Alberto G. / Flickr

 

Pennsylvania is moving to delay the use of exams as a graduation requirement for high school students starting next year.

The state Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to postpone the requirement for two years, and Gov. Tom Wolf says he'll sign the bill. The bill has already passed the House unanimously.

The requirement won approval from the State Board of Education in 2013. But under the bill, the requirement now would take effect in the 2018-19 academic year.

About a dozen states have such a requirement.

CCAC North Library / Flickr

Starting Wednesday, students at the Community College of Allegheny County will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania without leaving CCAC’s North Side campus. 

Raymond "Dmitri" Beljan / Flickr

 

Tuition at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is increasing by 3.2 percent for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy told the campus in an email that the school's board of trustees has approved the rate increase, which brings tuition to $51,196 a year for undergraduates entering this fall and for those who entered in the fall of 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Undergraduates who came in the fall of 2012 will pay $50,690 a year. Graduate prices are set at the program level.

Parker Knight / Flickr

A slate of changes to the state’s early childhood development and learning programs are in the works, including extending how long children can access subsidized child care and providing more assistance to low-income families.

darkday / Flickr

A Pennsylvania water authority has turned down a $65 million grant that would have allowed the group to replace its 100-year-old water system.

The Cambria Somerset Authority voted to reject the offer Thursday, saying the deal was legally feasible for the public authority.

Commercial Real Estate Financing CEO Terry Smith says his firm is distributing $400 million in United Nations grants for green energy projects. Smith says he could give the authority funds to replace all 22 miles of pipelines, but the board would have to sign an agreement by Monday.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

From the back of Barry Grossman's house, you get a panoramic view of Lake Erie: miles and miles of uninterrupted lake, anchored on one side by the popular Presque Isle State Park. And in the distance, a large ship making its way slowly across the lake. 

"Last two days, I've seen four major lake liners go by," said Grossman, the former Erie County executive. "Usually you don't see them this time of year."

Grossman hopes that means industry is starting to pick up around the lake again. But he worries Erie's workforce won't be ready for a big turnaround.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

More than 200 Pittsburgh Promise scholars and alumni gathered downtown Wednesday to meet with prospective employers for the annual Career Launch.

Eligible to four-year graduates of Pittsburgh Public high schools, the Pittsburgh Promise pledges to cover a sizeable portion of college tuition for students who maintain high attendance and a grade point average of 2.5.

National Council on Teacher Quality

  Pennsylvania can do a lot more to bolster the effectiveness of its teachers, according to a report released earlier this month from the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Pittsburgh Public School’s national search for a new superintendent will be a multi-month, transparent process full of community input, Board President Regina Holley said Monday.

The process will begin in January with seven forums held from 6 to 9 p.m. at schools around the city. Childcare will be provided, and all events will be streamed at pittsupsearch.com. There will also be a dedicated email, voicemail and Twitter feed for public input, she said.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When students Bishal Rai, Arpun Khadka and Gabriel Sahij walk into Concord Elementary School in Carrick, a welcome sign greets them in English, Spanish and Nepali. 

Casey Chafin / 90.5 WESA

While the state budget impasse affects schools across the state, Pittsburgh Public Schools ranks among the best-prepared, according to a review conducted by state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

“Our audit has shown that this is clearly the most successful financially run district that we’ve seen in the entire state from an urban perspective,” DePasquale said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

One Pittsburgh Public School is using a grant from the American Federation of Teachers to train students for careers as police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The district showcased existing Career and Education Courses to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Monday at Westinghouse Academy in Homewood.

The grades 6-12 school is one of five Pittsburgh secondary schools with CTE programs, boasting disciplines like cosmetology, culinary arts, carpentry, automotive body repair and multimedia production, among others. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

 

North Allegheny High School sophomore Mason Blackburn wanted Alex the Lion to escape the zoo, but it wasn't that simple.

The team hit a few roadblocks along the way, he said. Levers overcomplicated the motions, so they tried a simpler pulley system. It took a lot of trial and error, Blackburn said.

"We certainly learned a lot," he said. "We had several of these swinging hooks and each hook would transfer energy to the next hook. Eventually that was too complicated."

PA National Guard

Pennsylvania would become the 28th state to create a National Guard Youth Challenge Program under legislation being considered by the Senate.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools is turning to more progressive methods of discipline, after finding that cut and dry methods, like Zero Tolerance, led to too many suspensions.

Back in the ‘90s, many schools started using those methods as a way to motivate kids to behave.

They put police officers in schools, along with metal detectors. They issued harsh punishments to prevent bigger offenses. 

It became a way of doing things, but opponents say rather than getting students to behave, it was just pushing them out of school. Now administrators shy away from those methods.

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