Education

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

Adjunct faculty at the Community College of Allegheny County voted to join their full-time colleagues as members of the American Federation of Teachers on Tuesday.

“Being able to negotiate a living wage for ourselves was obviously the number one issue,” said adjunct art professor Gene Marsh, “and some other issues relating to benefits or access to full-time positions as they open up.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

CCAC North Library

Dwight Boddorf thought he was going to make a career out of the military. But when he was medically discharged after an encounter with an improvised explosive device in Iraq, he said he wanted to switch gears and move as far away from the military as possible.

He now works in education as the director of military and veterans services at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Five Pittsburgh-area high school graduates were honored at an awards ceremony Tuesday for their achievements overcoming homelessness.

They each received $2,500 Hope Through Learning grants from the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, which caters to young adults who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness during their school attendance years and are going on to a higher education or a career training program for the first time.

Pittsburgh has been selected to be part of a new initiative by the National League of Cities to develop early education programs and improve the outcomes for young children in communities across the country.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera was an engineering major in college – for one semester.

“Then I tutored at one of the local high schools, at Reading High School, and I fell in love with education,” Rivera told a group of high school students at Duquesne University on Monday. “I remember calling my mother and telling her, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about switching my major from engineering to education.’ There was a pause on the phone, and she said, ‘Oh no you’re not.’”

Flickr user Brad Wilson

The last time Pittsburgh Public Schools furloughed a substantial portion of its teachers was in 2012, when 190 teachers got pink slips. Those layoffs were based on area of certification and seniority, as is required by the district’s contract with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

House Bill 805, which is now in the Pennsylvania Senate would end that practice, instead basing layoffs on performance.

Point Park University in Pittsburgh is cutting 32 full- and part-time employees as part of restructuring spurred by declining enrollment.

University officials say the cuts amount to 3 percent of the school's workforce, but did not specify how the lay-offs were spread among faculty, administrators and staff.

School district consolidation is the key to many of Pennsylvania’s education problems, according to State Rep. Timothy S. Mahoney (D-Fayette/Somerset). Mahoney recently proposed legislation requesting a statewide study of schools that would examine the possibility of merging Pennsylvania school districts into individual county administrations.

The proposition stems from Mahoney’s study in 2011 that examined the effects of a potential merger of Fayette County school districts.

Courtesy Good Jobs Healthy Communities

Public education advocates with the group Good Jobs Healthy Communities gathered outside the former William Penn School in Harrisburg Wednesday morning, as part of a week-long “occupation” of Pennsylvania’s capital city.

The vocational and alternative high school was closed by the school district in 2010 due to a lack of funds to upgrade the deteriorating structure. Classes were relocated to other buildings in the district.

The Kickstarting Making in Schools Project selected 10 schools from Allegheny, Armstrong, Washington and Westmoreland counties to participate in its new project-based learning initiative.

Helmed by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the project aims to integrate more “maker” learning into schools’ curriculum through June 2016.

Teresa DeFlitch, the museum’s project manager, said teachers will be encouraged to use different types of materials and processes that engage students in a more open-ended way.

The Associated Press

Pennsylvania school districts are more concerned with “how much” than “when” regarding passage of a fiscal budget and any new state appropriation they might receive.

“In general, initially, if a budget does not pass by June 30, districts won’t find themselves in dire situations,” said Steve Robinson, spokesman for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

College costs are on the rise and government financial assistance is shrinking, leaving many high schoolers to wonder what they can do to ensure their future success without taking on massive debt.

A recent partnership between the Community College of Beaver County (CCBC) and Lincoln Learning Solutions, formerly known as the National Network of Digital Schools, may make a difference in Butler County and the surrounding region.

Fourteen down, three to go.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) is continuing its long list of branch renovations with its Knoxville location, which will close June 27 to begin construction. The library is one of the last in the CLP’s Capital Improvement Program that began in 2003, which aims to renovate every neighborhood branch in the Pittsburgh area.

Artists, bakers, professors, and ecologists are coming together to teach Pittsburghers how to write and perform spoken word poetry, how to bake a perfect loaf of bread, and how to incorporate plants in urban settings at the Steel City Folk School’s very first “pop-up event” this Saturday, June 20.

The folk school’s one-day event offers 11 half- and full-day courses to anyone interested in the Pittsburgh area.

But what exactly is a “folk school?"

A year-long effort to take a hard look at the way state funding is distributed among schools has wrapped up with recommendations about how the state should divvy up any increases in education funding.  

A panel of lawmakers and state officials said the new funding formula will be fairer and based on tangible factors like population, poverty and tax base. A district’s wealth would be revisited every few years to adjust for changes. The population of students learning English as a second language would also be taken into account.

The Carnegie Science Center has received a $614,000 grant to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The two-year grant, from The Heinz Endowments, will benefit the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, which offers schools resources to improve their STEM classes.

Schools In 40 PA Counties Would Struggle With Keystone Graduation Requirement

Jun 10, 2015
Map via Research for Action

Pennsylvania students in the class of 2017 are the first who will be required to pass standardized Keystone exams in algebra, literature and biology in order to graduate high school. A new brief details how complicated it could get to help students graduate who can't pass those exams.

State law passed under Gov. Ed Rendell and implemented under Gov. Tom Corbett says that if students can't pass the tests after two tries, schools must help them to complete a project-based assessment.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

There has been a public outcry and calls for changes at the Allegheny County Jail in the wake of the unexplained deaths of two inmates in May. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald decided to sever ties with Corizon Health Inc., the provider of health care services at the facility. The first public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for June 23  in the County Council chambers of the Allegheny County Courthouse. We'll talk with County Council member Heather Heidelbaugh and Julia Johnson of the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project.

Johnson expresses her concern for the proper treatment and counseling of inmates in hopes to better the health care services in the jail:

"There just needs to be more compassion as far as people with mental health issues and they're compounding those issues at the jail. 60% of people at the ACJ have mental health issues and they are not being give their anti-psychotic medicine, they are not getting counseling." - Julia Johnson

Also in the program, beloved music teacher Adrianne Kelly is retiring after 33 years at Minadeo Elementary School and Steel City Squash is teaching a little-known sport to youth in the Hill District, combining its physical activity with academic development.

courtesy Allegany College of Maryland

 

Somerset County and Allegany College of Maryland officials are downplaying the county’s pending takeover of operations at ACM’s Somerset campus as little more than a formality.

The county is set to assume responsibility for maintenance and operational expenses at the campus July 1 with the start of the next fiscal year.

After high school, students with disabilities need to be prepared for the same activities other students are prepared for, according to the Education Week Research Center.

The education policy non-profit issued its 10th annual Diplomas Count report looking at the challenges and opportunities students with disabilities face as they transition from high school.

“Not all students with disabilities face the same difficulties, the same challenges,” said senior research associate Sterling Lloyd.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Like a lot of her classmates, 11-year-old Laney Staples has a second job.

“Their first job is to be a good student,” said Propel McKeesport teacher Keith Smetak, 41, of Irwin standing nearby. “Laney, here, is our tour guide.”

She tutors, too. Some children are bankers, others part of a tech-savvy “geek squad.” These positions offer Smetak’s middle-schoolers “a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

School districts in seven western Pennsylvania counties are getting a share of $530,000 in Allegheny Intermediate Unit grants for programs that blend science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM.

A state lawmaker wants to launch an overhaul of the type and number of board members directing Penn State University's Board of Trustees.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, 31 Penn State alumni ran for three seats on the board. Months later, the new group approved changes in the make up of the board to allow for more student and staff representation.

Pennsylvania Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), who received his bachelor's and master's degrees from PSU in 1993 and 2004, respectively, said this week those measures aren't enough.

Minority students are being unfairly targeted for out-of-school suspensions, according to some parents, teachers and concerned citizens expected to rally before Pittsburgh Public Schools ' 6 p.m. board meeting at their Oakland office on Tuesday.

Black children represented 54 percent of Pittsburgh's 26,041 students last year but received 77 percent of the district's 9,382 suspensions, according to data compiled by advocacy group Great Public Schools Pittsburgh. Students with disabilities accounted for 17 percent of enrollment but received 27 percent of out-of-school suspensions. 

Copyright Martha Rial

The Manchester Bidwell Corporation was founded in 1968 by Bill Strickland with the intent of using the environment to shape people's lives. We’ll discover his philosophy for the creation of the guild. We’ll also speak to Chief Operating Officer of the National Center for Arts and Technology Paulo Nzambi and Vice President of Operations Kevin Jenkins on their roles within the Bidwell company.  

“You can do extraordinary things if you have the right people around you. Part of the message is…you don’t have to go to the world, you can bring the world to your neighborhood, and it’s not where you start that matters, it’s where you end up.” -Bill Strickland 

Also, we'll talk about the Bidwell Training Center-- an institute of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation and home to the Manchester Craftsman's Guild, a league of youth and adults working in tandem to create a one-of-a-kind growth and learning experience. 

Baby Theater: Pacifiers And Teething Toys Welcome

May 22, 2015
Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

These aren’t your typical theater-goers. They call out during the play. They try to join into the performance.

And some are sucking on pacifiers.

This is entertainment for the very young — baby theater.

Gates Foundation / Flickr

The Wilkinsburg School District is undergoing changes. It’s putting resources toward renovating the district’s two elementary schools. In addition, our guest , acting superintendent Dan Matsook is seeking an education partner to take the district’s middle school students. He sits down with guest host Kevin Gavin to address the challenges facing the Wilkinsburg school district. 

Matsook talks about the possibility of partnering with neighboring school districts, and the benefits it has over merging: 

“The plan we set in motion was to meet with representatives from the districts and to talk about the pros and cons of what this partnership could potentially be. What would be the hurdles? And what would be the questions you want answered?” - Dan Matsook 

Also, a program at LaRoche College keeps students globally-minded after events like the devastation in Nepal and the Green Apple Day of Service connects local people and organizations to non-profits. 

How to use air quality assessors to measure pollution, robots to teach coding skills and conductive sewing to create bike vests that illuminate at night: These are just a few of the things educators are learning at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s transformED classroom.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Citrone Fund have given a $40,000 grant to the AIU to update transformED and to create a lending library of its innovative resources.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

Teens from around the world were in Pittsburgh this week presenting projects at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair hosted Downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Forget electromagnets and mouse trap cars. Many of these high-level high-schoolers are published authors and hold patents. Last year’s winner created a test for pancreatic cancer now headed toward clinical trial. 

ISEF, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Approximately 1,700 high school students from over 75 countries, regions and territories compete to attend the fair. Showcases of independent research result in nearly $4 million in prizes.

Indiana freshman Noor Abdullah examined how a sweet-smelling shrub affects nearby soil.

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