Education

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

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.

Cali4beach / Flickr

Education advocacy group A+ Schools is seeking members for its volunteer review board tasked with overseeing new board members representing Pittsburgh Public Schools.

With three new members sworn in, the Pittsburgh Public School Board has only two members who have served for more than two years. The other four were elected in 2013.

A+ Executive Director Carey Harris said volunteers are city residents prepped by the organization's staffers about current state and national policy.

Private schools are putting the pressure on the Wolf administration to reverse its decision not to authorize up to $150 million in tax credits that bolster their scholarship programs.

Governor Tom Wolf has said the tax credits and corresponding scholarship funds fall into the same category as other expenditures that can’t be made without a budget.

“I don’t see we have any choice,” Wolf told reporters Wednesday. “It has to be part of the budget. We aren’t authorized to release anything until we have a budget.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA News

The United Way of Allegheny County wants to ensure local children grow up to be successful in adulthood. That’s why they’ve created a new action plan.

The plan, called "United for Children," aims to support the social and emotional needs of the region’s children with a five-step plan, which includes:

Pittsburgh Public Schools

Moira Kaleida and Lynda Wrenn might both be new to the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors, but they’re not new to the district. 

Chris Breeze / Flickr

One of Pennsylvania’s most time-honored political traditions is tacking on a philanthropic arm this year as part of its annual fundraising weekend.

Every December, the state’s top politicians head to New York City to see and be seen at a long weekend of fundraisers, parties and one swanky gala collectively referred to as Pennsylvania Society. The group’s annual ball, set for Saturday, Dec. 12, is expected to draw about 1,300 people to Manhattan’s famed Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

A+ Schools

A+ Schools' annual analysis of Pittsburgh Public Schools noted again a troubling academic disparity between the district's black and white students.

“The gap is in the 30s,” said Carey Harris, the Pittsburgh-based advocacy group's executive director. “That’s got to be a focus, and I think probably the No. 1 concern leading up to that (will) be attendance and suspensions.”

Michael Sorg / Flickr

The country’s second-largest for-profit education provider will have to pay the U.S. government nearly $100 million in a landmark settlement.

Authorities said in a news conference Monday that Education Management Corporation, or EDMC, which is based in Pittsburgh, agreed to the settlement after receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money while using predatory recruiting practices.

90.5 WESA

  

Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders this week agreed on a “framework” for a state budget with hopes for a full spending plan by Thanksgiving. The announcement comes nearly five months after the 2015-16 year began.

According to Senate minority leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), the budget is expected to include about $5.9 billion for basic education funding for public school districts, a $200 million increase from this past year.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Westinghouse High School officials announced Thursday a new Emergency Response Technology program promising career training for students interested in public safety. 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

People use Kickstarter to fund everything from tuition payments to weddings. But now, it's being used for creative education programs in Pittsburgh-area schools.

Gadgetdude / Flickr

The difference between a worker who has a high school diploma and one who doesn’t may have a larger impact on the economy than some may realize. 

Each year, Pennsylvanians without a high school diploma or GED cost taxpayers an average of $683 each, according to Jamie Baxter, director of legislative policy and advocacy at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU).

But getting them a high school diploma, according to the AIU, could mean the state getting up to $6,000 per year in taxes from each worker. 

What Does The Changing PA Supreme Court Mean For Education Funding, Charter Schools?

Nov 9, 2015
Matt Rourke / AP Photo

  The results of last week's Pennsylvania Supreme Court election could have wide-ranging implications for a number of high-profile cases related to education issues in Pennsylvania.

Three Democrats swept the open seats on the state's highest court – shifting the balance of power 5-to-2 in their favor when they assume the bench in January.

Mike Richards / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne University's current law school dean Kenneth Gormley will succeed Charles Dougherty as president.

Board of Directors Chair Marie Milie Jones announced the promotion Wednesday. Dougherty will retire June 30, 2016, after a 15-year tenure.

RikkisRefuge Other

Pennsylvania students might graduate high school without being taught how to balance a checkbook, what a credit score is, or how to establish savings.

That is according to a study conducted by Vermont's Champlain College, which tested the finance education requirements of all 50 states. Pennsylvania tied with ten other states for last place.

There is something special going on in Pittsburgh, according to Sara Schapiro, director of the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools

“We’re excited to showcase the region as a hub of education innovation,” she said.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is solvent until at least 2028, according to its seventh annual report to the community released Tuesday. Guests to the presentation at the Hill House were greeted by kindergarten students from Phillips and Weil elementary schools, donning shirts that read “I am the class of 2028” and giving out enthusiastic handshakes.

Flickr

The Community College of Allegheny County is trying to get more of its students to finish with a degree or certificate.

CCAC participated in the Pennsylvania Community College Completion Challenge last week, which concludes with an open house at all eight locations from 2 to 7 p.m. Monday.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nestled firmly in a bill passed last week by the Pennsylvania Senate is a long list of reporting requirements that, if passed by the House and signed by the governor, would force the University of Pittsburgh and the three other state-related universities to disclose data ranging from minutes of meetings to ratios of course credits awarded to various types of students.

Point Park University / Submitted

Point Park University is set to turn a vacant downtown hot dog shop into what it is calling a state-of-the-art learning center where students will merge their energy, talent and ambition.

The Center for Media Innovation will fill the building on the northwest corner of Wood Street and Third Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh and will feature a ground-floor multimedia studio with floor-to-ceiling windows reminiscent of New York City’s Times Square.  

USAG- Humphreys / Flickr

 Middle school for many students is a three-year period fraught with physical and emotional changes, different class structures, and new school responsibilities. With all of these adjustments, many children need an additional person in their life to put things in order.

This is where the United Way of Allegheny County tries to step in with its “Be a Middle School Mentor” program, which is entering its seventh year thanks to a grant from the First Niagara Foundation.

KT King / flickr

A pair of Republican state representatives want to force teachers’ union representatives to also hold positions that put them in contact with students every day. The move is an effort to end what they are calling “ghost teachers.”

State Representative Jim Christiana (R- Beaver) is upset that there are three individuals that are getting all of the benefits of being an active teacher in the Pittsburgh Public School district that report to the union office every day rather than to a school building.

Local and national organizations are collaborating to bring an online diploma program for high school dropouts to Pittsburgh.

Seventy local youths ages 18-24 will be recruited by Garfield Jubilee Association to enroll in one of eight courses of study: childcare education, office management, security services, homeland security, transportation services, professional skills, retail customer service and food customer service.

U.S. Department of Education

Researchers believe negative racial identities in black students might be contributing to the racial achievement gap, which in Pennsylvania amounts to more than 20 points in 4th grade and gets worse by 8th grade, according to state test data.

A new early childhood collaborative group between the University of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Public Schools will be working this year with parents and teachers to learn how to better foster positive racial identities.

Russell Tucker / Flickr

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit hosted 10 educators from Northern Ireland on Monday to discuss best practices for special education.

Administrators with the AIU, a service provider for 42 Allegheny County school districts, met with principals, speech therapists and teachers from the Belfast area. The educators have been hosts to students in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Study Abroad in Ireland program.

A new audit from the state's auditor general gives the Pennsylvania Department of Education poor marks for how it deals with academically struggling schools and special employees.

The report, covering mid-2010 to mid-2015, finds that the agency failed to provide special help to most poor-performing schools unless it was expressly required by federal law.

The new scores were adopted in 2012 to assess and compare schools. Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said during a press conference Tuesday that merely labeling sub-par schools is of little service.

saeru / flickr

The Carnegie Science Center has selected ten local school districts to become partners with its Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway program.

The ten-member “cohort” consists of the Allegheny Valley, Avonworth, Baldwin-Whitehall, Bethel Park, Elizabeth Forward, Montour, Plum Borough, Shaler Area and West Allegheny school districts, as well as the A.W. Beattie Career Center.

For more than a dozen school districts in Pennsylvania, the state budget impasse already has a cost: $11 million in interest payments just to stay open.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale trumpeted the debtors’ names Tuesday as part of his mission to deliver regular updates on how schools are faring as Harrisburg’s gridlock stretches on. DePasquale said his office has already heard from more than half of the state’s 500 school districts.

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