Education

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

Jobs for Felons Hub / flickr

The U.S. Department of Education has revamped a higher education program for prisoners, and four schools in the Commonwealth have been selected to participate. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Villanova, Bloomsburg University and the Lehigh Carbon Community College will create the curriculum to educate prisoners selected for the grants under the new Second Chance Pell Grant pilot.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Superintendent Anthony Hamlet started his first official day as Pittsburgh Public Schools' newest leader by apologizing for the "unintended distraction" caused by allegations of misrepresentation and plagiarism riddling his resume.

Rafael Sato / flickr

As the legislature grapples with budget details including education funding, Governor Tom Wolf has already signed into law a new formula for distributing state education money. The formula is used to decide how much each district gets but how does it work? We’ll ask Keystone Crossroads reporter Kevin McCorry and Jay Himes, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board voted against a motion to rescind newly hired Superintendent Anthony Hamlet’s contract Wednesday night after a month of scrutiny over discrepancies in his resume.

A new report, out today, provides 186 pages of answers to one of the toughest questions in education:

What does it take to get preschool right?

Parents and politicians alike want to know. States are spending roughly $7 billion this year on early childhood education, despite the fact that there are more cautionary tales — like this one from Tennessee — than success stories.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board unanimously approved a policy Wednesday night that will allow transgender and gender expansive students, those who identify outside of gender categories, to use pronouns, names and bathrooms they identify with in the coming school year.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Eight former police officers will be patrolling school hallways instead of streets this fall.

By a 7-2 vote Tuesday, the Gateway School District Board of Education approved the placement of at least one armed officer in each of the district’s elementary, middle and high schools.

Board president Chad Stubenbort said the district will hire retired officers to work part-time as part of its $300,000 security budget. Recent school attacks, especially the 2014 mass stabbing in nearby Franklin Regional High School, proved violence can happen anywhere, he said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than half of the 85 registered speakers in an almost four-hour meeting Monday vented to Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education members about new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Advocacy groups representing Pittsburgh Public Schools are calling for a new superintendent search following weeks of controversy surrounding the Board of Education's first choice, Anthony Hamlet. 

The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the Hill District Education Council, the Black Political Empowerment Project and A+ Schools issued a joint statement on Tuesday:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board is expected to review claims that new Pittsburgh Superintendent Anthony Hamlet plagiarized a phrase in his resume and a statement to the press when his appointment was announced, spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Anthony Hamlet admitted he fudged one detail in the five-page resume he used to score Pittsburgh Public Schools top job last month

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

State education officials wired Wilkinsburg School District $3 million in emergency funding last week to aid in middle and high school students transitioning to Pittsburgh Public Schools this fall.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

A survey of Pennsylvania superintendents and school business officials offers a bleak portrait of the state of education in the commonwealth.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Pittsburgh Public Schools' new pick for superintendent defended his resume to his hometown newspaper on Friday after press suggested he made "misstatements of exaggerations" about his accomplishments leading Palm Beach County schools.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

  Interim Wilkinsburg High School Principal Shawn Johnston’s voice reverberated through the intercom into bare, empty hallways on the second to last day of school. Packing boxes had arrived in the office.

Students weren’t in the building as teachers finished grades and prepared for the school to permanently close following Friday’s 7 p.m. graduation. Their last full day in the school was Wednesday.

"I really hate it, you know, because there are a lot of memories here," said Roxanne Robinson, who graduated in the 1970s.

Erie School District

Dozens of Pennsylvania's most distressed school districts are finding it harder to borrow money in the wake of the state's historically protracted budget impasse.

In December, as lawmakers entered a sixth month without a state budget, S&P Global withdrew its rating of Pennsylvania's "intercept" program, through which the state guarantees loans for school districts that don't have high credit ratings.

Plum Borough School District Superintendent Timothy Glasspool was placed on administrative leave Friday.

At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Glasspool was given two days to consider taking paid leave while the school board investigates how he handled reports of inappropriate sexual relationships between teachers and students.

Yoshimitsu Kurooka / flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign a bill that would establish an education funding formula for the state's public schools.

Pennsylvania is one of just three states without funding formulas. North Carolina and Delaware are the other two, according to the Education Law Center.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Wilkinsburg and Westinghouse sixth, seventh and eighth graders got an early taste of the schools' impending merger at a field day in North Park on Tuesday.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Though more than 60 percent of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools are people of color, district officials said eighty-five percent of its teachers are white and primarily women.

Carrick High School junior Trevon Stanton said throughout his education, he’s rarely had a teacher who looks like him. That’s why he’s considering becoming a teacher one day.

First off, it starts with me," Stanton said. "If no one’s going to be the change then I will.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council members and education activists say it’s time for Pennsylvania lawmakers to prioritize affordable early childhood education in the state’s budget.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Florida educator and former NFL defensive end will likely be the next to helm Pittsburgh Public Schools. Board members unanimously approved the appointment Wednesday.

Anthony Hamlet works with principals and instructional specialists on school improvement in Palm Beach County, Fla., where he currently serves as director of school accountability and transformation. Hamlet was appointed a five year term for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2021 with a starting salary of $221,000 a year at the board's Special Legislative Meeting.

Scott Barkley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County school officials are considering taking a bold step – ditching textbooks.

Superintendents, curriculum directors and librarians from multiple districts met Thursday to discuss getting using new materials.

They're looking to follow in the steps of other schools around the country using open educational resources –- which are free and non-copyrighted, shared materials.

Remake Learning

Learning doesn’t just have to happen in a classroom.

That’s the message that education groups and members of the Remake Learning Network hope to send by hosting more than 280 events this week. The events will promote innovative educational opportunities for children with hands-on learning such as woodworking, sewing, robotics, 3-D printing and student-led panels.

"Remake Learning" is an expression used to describe the idea that children can learn anytime and anywhere, including at museums and libraries.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Students at Avonworth School District’s Primary Center had a chance every week to gather in an empty classroom to create anything from battery-powered cars to catapults. Then, one day, a few students came to kindergarten teacher Maureen Frew with a teeny request. 

Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

 

Pittsburgh Public Schools have extended the district's contracts with its teachers union through June 30, 2017.

The previous contract expired last year on June 30, and the sides have been negotiating ever since.

The contract covers about 3,000 teachers, aides and clerical workers.

The school board and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers announced the tentative deal Monday. Terms weren't immediately disclosed.

The teachers will vote on the deal May 16, and the school board must still schedule a vote.

 

John Altdorfer / Point Park University

Veteran investigative reporter Andrew Conte will lead Point Park University’s new journalism facility, school officials announced Wednesday.

The Center for Media Innovation was built with a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation, which was created by late Trib owner Richard Mellon Scaife. Trib Total Media is also a sponsor of the media center.

xMizLitx / Flickr

 

Some scholarship providers in western Pennsylvania say they're having trouble giving away free money.

Officials with the National Scholarship Providers Association tell The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that community foundations that award local scholarships can find it more difficult to give out money than larger, national scholarships.

Victor Bjorkund / Flickr

Pennsylvania school board members came to the Capitol earlier this week, some of them downright weary.

“It’s been a grueling year,” said Nathan Mains, director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. PSBA was in town for its annual legislative lobbying day. Its members wanted to underscore the damage caused by the budget stalemate.

Schools Eye State I.O.U. On Construction Costs

Apr 4, 2016
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state’s budget gridlock is over, but school districts are focusing on another piece of unwelcome news: after years of delayed reimbursements for state-approved construction and building maintenance, they’ll go without any state funding for such projects.

About $306 million in construction reimbursements was nixed when Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a budget-related piece of legislation known as the fiscal code last week.

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