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.

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

With its new student-weighted school funding formula, Pennsylvania took a big step forward this year to begin to correct decades of inequities.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

  Gov. Tom Wolf created a new charter school oversight body through the state Department of Education on Wednesday, nearly two years after his gubernatorial campaign promised charter reform.

The Division of Charter Schools will be composed of a director, who has yet to be hired, plus three staffers. They're tasked with making sure the laws, processes and information already in place are followed, and that the data charter schools submit to the department is accurate and timely, Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan said.

Alan Levine / Flickr

 

Data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education shows an increase in unsolved bomb threats in its public schools over the last three academic years, but a general decrease in terroristic threats.

An Associated Press analysis of school threat data found the disruptions increasing nationwide at the expense of students' learning time and local police departments' resources.

The state department provided data gathered from Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts.

Tom Hurley / 90.5 WESA

The 2016-17 school year is set to begin for Pittsburgh Public Schools next week after a tumultuous summer capped by the controversial hiring of new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, who fielded questions for weeks over whether he plagiarized and misrepresented portions of the resume he used to earn the district's top job. The board voted to retain him in June.

Bastiaan Slabbers / Newsworks

Pennsylvania continues to wrestle with an essential question for the future of its people and its economy: What should a high school diploma mean, and what should it take to earn one?

United Way

United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania is partnering with a dozen local organizations to focus on the academic and social needs of kids.

Since the five-year United for Children plan was announced in December, the organization has chosen local agencies to receive funding, volunteers and business support to help an estimated 300,000 children.

Why Are Pittsburghers' Property Taxes Going Up? Blame School Pensions

Aug 19, 2016
Anita DuFalla / PublicSource

 

Pennsylvania legislators about a decade ago passed a law to protect homeowners by limiting property tax hikes to the rate of inflation. Has the law, known as Act 1, worked?

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 30 men, mostly coaches and athletic directors, at the Sewall Center at Robert Morris University this week were asked one important question: "Who here was ever taught about consent?"

No one raised his hand.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

When students at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA are gone for the weekend, an app-controlled robot can now drop food pellets into their fish tank.

“We thought, what would you like to do?” said Russ White, vice president of technology strategy for Development Dimensions International. “Through talking to them we thought there’s probably a solution there.”   

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools’ new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet, now a month into the job, said student and teacher input will be essential to the district's strategic plan going forward. 

In an update to the school board Tuesday, he called the first phase of his 90-day transition plan, “a listening tour.”

“We must focus on teacher input and best practices when we consider introducing more research-based, proven models that drive student outcomes,” Hamlet said. “But, you must do this by a bottom-up approach with our best teachers taking a leadership role in the conversation.”

Elaine Thompson / AP

Pittsburgh Public school administrators began training for the district’s new transgender nondiscrimination policy which goes into effect this school year.

Vanessa Davis, executive director of THRIVE, said the policy, which will allow transgender and gender expansive students, those who identify outside of gender categories, to use pronouns, names and bathrooms they identify with, is a large undertaking. Any change stemming from the policy won’t come overnight, she said.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board approved two contracts with separate consulting groups to help new Superintendent Anthony Hamlet and district staff develop a strategic plan for the next five years.

Ronald Joseph, chief operations officer for the district, said it’s standard practice for a new leader to have an unbiased third-party look at the needs of the organization. He called both contracts – totaling $274,000 – economical solutions for an in-depth analysis and forming a strategic plan.

alamobasement / Flickr

Pittsburgh Public Schools board members will decide Wednesday if the district will move forward with a plan to provide social services to students and the communities it serves.

It would follow the community schools model which provides students with equitable access to programs and services like medical care, psychological services, access to a food bank, English as a second language training or work education programs, all in a familiar building: a public school. 

Lawsuit Brewing Over Refugee Education In Lancaster

Jul 19, 2016
Alex Brandon / AP

 

About 17,000 school-aged refugees move to the U.S. in an average year, an estimate that's a few years old and likely growing along with overall resettlement activity.

But no one is tracking how young refugees fare in school here.

Georgetown University released a study earlier this year looking at education access by students with limited English proficiency.

It focused on undocumented immigrants.

Governor Wolf Administration / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Public Schools board will vote later this month on a policy that would allow nurses and school police to administer the drug naloxone, also known as Narcan, in the event someone on school grounds overdoses from opioids.

Marissa Hopkins / flickr

Sixty Mexican college students, from all socioeconomic strata in Mexico, are visiting Pittsburgh as part of an educational cultural exchange. The group are all members of a program for highly talented students. Their trip includes visits to the campuses of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University as well as a meeting with Mayor Bill Peduto.

US Department of Education / Flickr

A shortage of certified substitute teachers is leading school districts across Pennsylvania to put students in gyms and cafeterias instead of classrooms.

“It’s a crisis,” said state Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester), the minority chairman of the Education Committee. 

According to Dinniman, school district officials told the committee that they’ve only been able to fill 70 percent of vacancies because of the lack of certified substitutes. He said the shortage is impacting urban, suburban and rural schools.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

It may be summer, but on a recent sunny June day, a small group of teachers and students stayed indoors. They sat in classrooms at the South Fayette School District campus for a different take on traditional summer school.  

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.

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