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.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The tension between charter school advocates and those who support traditional schools often comes down to money. Charters are public and funded by tax dollars, but many argue the schools siphon scarce resources.

Last year, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale called for an overhaul of the state’s charter school law.

“I am not saying we have the worst charter schools in the United States, " he said. "I am saying we have the worst charter school law in the United States." 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Every day at Urban Academy Charter School in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood begins with students, teachers, support staff and administrators gathered in the cafeteria.

Mornings start with brief presentations on black history, followed by song: “I Believe I Can Fly,” the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and once in a while, a little Bruno Mars.

Barney Moss / Flickr

Pennsylvania’s children are faring a bit better than their counterparts nationally in education, according to a new report form the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The 2017 Kids Count Data Book ranks the commonwealth 18th in the U.S. for overall child well-being.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fourth grade students at Propel Hazelwood gathered in a circle around another student summarizing a class text. As she spoke, each student gave her a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Just a few months after Pennsylvania approved its charter school law, a trailblazing Pittsburgh Public educator stood in front of the school board on a November night in 1997.

Helen Faison urged board members to approve the charter for the Urban Academy, a school that would operate independently from the district. It would remain public with open enrollment and the public school district would pay for students to attend it.

Kevin McCorry / WHYY

A telecom technician by trade, Schuylkill County homeowner Ron Boltz is not your typical suit-and-tie Harrisburg lobbyist.

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Clarion University's president says she's stepping down at the end of the next academic year.

Karen Whitney has been president of the state-owned school for eight years. The school about 70 miles northeast of Pittsburgh has about 5,200 students.

The school is one of several in the 14-school State System of Higher Education that's struggling with declining enrollment. Clarion's enrollment has dropped 29 percent since 2010.

Whitney is the longest-tenured president in the state system.

The resignation announced Monday is effective June 30, 2018.

Carnegie Mellon University

After four years at the helm of Carnegie Mellon University, president Subra Suresh will step down at the end of the month.

The former National Science Foundation director announced his resignation Thursday in an open letter to the campus community.

PA House of Representatives / YouTube

Pennsylvania  Rep. Tony DeLuca is calling on the state’s Department of Education to step in and oversee the Penn Hills School District’s finances.

Last week, the school board approved increasing property taxes for the second year in a row, just months after Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released an audit that found the district had accumulated more than $170 million dollars of debt.

Alexander Popichak / 90.5 WESA

For teacher Keara Welsh, the best way to experience science is through hands-on discovery, but it can often be challenging.

“In my space indoors, I don’t have any sinks. I have carpets,” said Welsh, a STEAM instructor at Fort Cherry School District in McDonald, Pa.

She said trying to keep classrooms clean can be difficult, which is why she loves working in the new Fort Cherry Discovery Zone, an outdoor classroom featuring two gardens and a solar-powered weather station.

“So, this is a great area for me to explore the messy part of science,” Welsh said. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania law mandates school districts submit preliminary budgets by the last day of May, and several Superintendents across the state used Wednesday’s milestone to call for more financial support from the state.

“Without increased state funding we will, at some point, loose the ability to provide the same level of education that we have,” Gary Peiffer, Carlynton School District Superintendent, said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Zainab Adisa’s love for writing blossomed in high school, but it took her some time to get there. She spent several years in elementary school in English as a second language classes.

“I thought I was fine, but apparently (teachers) heard what I couldn’t,” she said.

Adisa was born in the United States, but her family immigrated from Nigeria. Her family spoke Yoruba at home, which made learning English challenging, she said. 

A study led by the University of Delaware has found new evidence that being bullied in school may have lasting health consequences.

Using observational data collected from a sample of schoolchildren who were studied over several years, researchers reported that kids who were bullied more frequently when they were younger were more likely to use certain drugs by the time they were in high school.

The study, which was published this week in the journal Pediatrics, adds to existing research finding a link between nasty treatment by peers and drug use.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Sala Udin, Veronica Edwards and Terry Kennedy won seats on the Pittsburgh Public Schools boards Tuesday night, in the only contested board races.

Kennedy, the incumbent District 5 representative, garnered nearly twice as many votes as opponent Ghadah Makoshi.

In District 3, former city councilman Udin beat out opponent James Myers, a Schenley High School grad and outreach coordinator for the Pittsburgh Green Innovators.

And Edwards narrowly defeated incumbent Carolyn Klug for the District 9 seat.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

There is no longer a predictable path for religious leaders, said Rev. Daniel Aleshire. When he went into seminary, it was typical to grow up following one denomination, attend the seminary of that denomination and then become a leader of a church. Now, the 69-year-old said, the path isn't as direct -- some people start later in life, some earn a master’s of divinity degree online and some don’t want to become the leader of a church.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A week after 80 students from University Preparatory middle and high school in the Hill District walked out of school to protest the potential layoff of 10 staff members, Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Superintendent Anthony Hamlet met with student representatives from each neighborhood high school to establish an advisory group.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The May 16 primary, in addition to shaping the mayoral race, will be an opportunity for Pittsburghers to cast their votes for members of the Pittsburgh Public Schools board. 

Two races are uncontested and only one has no incumbent as Thomas Sumpter, who represents district three, is not running for re-election.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

After school, many Hazelwood kids migrate to the library. Some stick to computers and scroll through the internet, some huddle in a corner to read books and a pair of 12-year-olds play chess.

Chris Stalnaker / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools has aggressively marketed its vacant school buildings for the last five years. It’s sold 13 in that time and put out a request for proposals in January for the remaining nine. The district gave organizations two months to figure out a development plan.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A western Pennsylvania school district is scrapping water wells and opting for city-treated water so it can reopen an elementary school shuttered after high levels of lead were found in its water.

The Butler School District closed Summit Elementary School in February and moved pupils to Broad Street Elementary School, which had been shuttered.

Rogelio Solis / AP

The Senate Education Committee has advanced a bill that would give schools in Pennsylvania the option of allowing teachers and other staff to carry concealed guns.

Supporters say it’s a matter of letting schools make the safety decisions that fit them best, while opponents call it irresponsible and unnecessary.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Stephanie Garcia, 17 of Beechview, read a biographical card about a Polish Boy named Aaron.

“His mother’s name was Louisa, his father’s name was Sigmund,” she said. “Aaron died in Shoah when he was a boy. His age, date and where he died have not been recorded.”

  The district attorney was reviewing allegations that a police officer assigned to a suburban Pittsburgh school knocked out the tooth of a 14-year-old student accused of stealing another student's cell phone.

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Administrators at five of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities have given faculty notice 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.

Mansfield University administrators filed a notice March 21. Faculty at California, Clarion, Edinboro and Cheyney universities have since been notified.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A Penn State University trustee said he is "running out of sympathy" for "so-called victims" of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky following the conviction of the university's former president over his handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky.

Penn State said the trustee was speaking personally, not for the university, and prosecutors issued a rebuke.

Penn State Bans Frat Where Student Was Fatally Injured

Mar 30, 2017
Daveynin / Flickr

Penn State University on Thursday permanently banned a fraternity where a pledge was fatally injured last month and announced additional steps to curb underage drinking throughout the university system.

The university revoked its recognition of the school's chapter of Beta Theta Pi after it said an investigation found "a persistent pattern" of excessive and forced drinking, hazing and drug use and sales.

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.”

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