Life of Learning

Summer Learning
3:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Why Do Schools Take a Summer Vacation?

Students are photographed at Chartiers Elementary School, June 21, 1916. In 1895 Pennsylvania became one of the first states to mandate school attendance, and a summer break was institutionalized.
Courtesy Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

When you ask most Americans why children get a break from school in the summer you usually get one of two answers. 

Warren Sullivan of Hermitage provided the most popular answer while visiting Pittsburgh last month: “I think it was agriculture wasn’t it? I mean, it’s probably the season … a few generations ago anyway.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:50 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Life of Learning Series: Why Do We Have Summer Vacation?

Kids playing in the PPG Place Fountain during their summer vacation probably never stop to think about why they have those 3 months of R & R
Credit Flickr

Alice Cooper famously sang, "School's out for summer," but why, exactly, do schools close from June to September? WESA's Life of Learning initiative begins with this report by 90.5 WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar.

STEM Education
3:30 am
Fri June 7, 2013

$500K in Grants to Pittsburgh Area Schools to Engage Students in STEAM

Twenty-five school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania are receiving grants of $20,000 apiece to create digital learning spaces for students of all ages. 

“My heart was filled with joy,” said Rosanne Javorsky, assistant executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, reacting to the 80 proposals for grants to create innovative spaces to engage students in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

The AIU’s Center for Creativity is distributing the grants, which are funded by the Benedum and Grable Foundations.

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Poverty & Learning
3:30 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Pitt to Host Summit on Race, Ethnicity, Poverty

Researchers and scholars from across the U.S. are gathering in Pittsburgh to create a network devoted to studying the issues of race and poverty.

About 30 directors of academic centers and institutions on race, ethnicity and poverty throughout the country will be attending the summit hosted by the University of Pittsburgh to begin Thursday and Friday in an effort to start dialogue and create possible collaborations between institutions aimed at battling social issues.

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History
1:18 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Ft. Pitt Museum Fires Replica 18th Century Cannon

An 18th century replica cannon was fired for the first time Wednesday morning at the Fort Pitt Museum at Point State Park.

A six-person crew of colonial re-enactors used all the proper protocol and ceremony in firing a blank round in the 600-pound cannon, which was made entirely in Western Pennsylvania.

Andy Masich, president and CEO of the Senator John Heinz History Center, said only an expert could tell this gun from an original. 

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advanced placement
6:30 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Grant Aims to Expand Access to Advanced Placement Classes in Two Pittsburgh High Schools

Pittsburgh Brashear Co-Principal Kimberly Safron, Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane and NMSI's Dale Fleury accept a grant from the Heinz Endowments.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

A new-to-Pennsylvania program is hoping to increase enrollment in advanced placement classes in two Pittsburgh high schools, with the ultimate goal to ensure more kids, especially kids of color, are prepared for higher education – whatever form that may take.

More than 100 students at Pittsburgh Brashear High School are currently enrolled in advanced placement, or AP, classes. Through a partnership with the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI, and a grant from the Heinz Endowments, work will get underway to increase that number.

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Education
3:42 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

New Bill Replicates Pittsburgh's Manchester-Bidwell Program

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and if it’s up to two Pennsylvania politicians, the rest of the nation will flatter Pittsburgh’s Manchester-Bidwell Corporation.

Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) have introduced legislation modeled after the local program.

The National Program for Arts and Technology Act would help communities create centers to teach unemployed and underemployed adults and at-risk-youth the skills needed to be competitive in the marketplace.

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Education
6:29 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Wilkinsburg School District Conducts Survey in Hopes of Change

The Wilkinsburg Public School District has a storied past, but in recent decades, it has been struggling.  District and borough officials want to change that, and they are asking residents for their input.

Elected officials are conducting a survey asking what the community wants to see its school district and borough provide in the future.

The school district and Community Leadership Team are asking residents, workers and business owners in the borough to take the 17-question survey.

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Head Start
6:36 am
Fri May 17, 2013

With Sequester Cuts, Head Start Programs Dealt Abrupt Budget Blow

Until recently, Melinda Lassiter's 5-year-old daughter Antoinetta had been enrolled in a Head Start program in Overbrook. But thanks to automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts, the program had to end its school year early. That's left Antoinetta and many of her young peers without a daytime activity.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

On a recent Thursday morning, Antoinetta Lassiter is playing with roller skates she has just gotten for her fifth birthday. She’s in her Beechview home with her mother and grandmother, asking an endless stream of questions.

Her mother Melinda Lassiter said it's nice to have her home, but if things had gone as planned, her daughter would still be enrolled in her Head Start program.

"I went to pick her up from school, and the teacher told us the school was closing on the 19th of April … and that was kind of shocking actually," she said. 

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Education
1:47 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

CCAC President Alex Johnson Hired to Lead Cleveland College

Community College of Allegheny County President Alex Johnson is leaving Pittsburgh to head up a community college in Cleveland.

Johnson, who became president of CCAC in 2008, has been appointed president of Cuyahoga Community College. He is expected to begin duties there on July 1, according to a news release from CCAC.

Johnson had previously served as chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans and was president of Cuyahoga Community College's Metropolitan Campus from 1993 to 2004.

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Science
3:30 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Pittsburgh-Area Students Take Science Projects to Phoenix

Two high school students from the Pittsburgh region are finalists in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair this week in Phoenix, where more than 1,500 high school students from more than 70 countries will present their solutions for real-life problems. Last year's fair was here in Pittsburgh.  

Rishi Mirchandani, a sophomore at Fox Chapel Area High School, has developed a new algorithm for dividing something that is desired by multiple individuals. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:32 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

How Do You Teach Young Kids About September 11th?

A wall of names at the Flight 93 Memorial in Somerset County
Credit Wikipedia

Most adults remember what they were doing and how they felt on September 11, 2001. But many children today weren't even born when Flight 93 crashed in Somerset County.

"Normally, we're telling the story to people who lived it," Flight 93 Memorial superintendent, Jeff Reinbold told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "What happens is the parents come to one of our rangers and say, 'You tell them.' It became apparent to us no one is talking to the youngest kids."

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Education & Learning
4:05 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Bon Appetito: Heinz History Center Launches Healthy Heritage Cooking Series

As part of the Heinz History Center's Healthy Heritage Cooking Series, Viviana Altieri demonstrates to Pittsburgh Public School students how to make fried risotto balls called supplì.
Credit Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The Heinz History Center on Tuesday kicked off the Healthy Heritage Cooking Series, a three-month pilot program designed to introduce students to Italian, Syrian and Bulgarian cooking and connect health to history.

Viviana Altieri, who directed an Italian cooking demonstration, is the executive director of Mondo Italiano, a local meet-up organization that promotes Italian language and culture. She said food traditions have always been important to mankind and that the Healthy Heritage series will broaden students’ cultural horizons.

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Education
3:30 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Pitt Professor Among National Team Leaders Granted Access to Education Research

Data collected from one of the largest studies ever conducted on teacher effectiveness will be made available to only 10 groups nationally. One of those teams will be led by a University of Pittsburgh professor.

“It’s a huge dataset and allows us to answer questions that we previously weren’t able to pose or answer because data simply wasn’t available to do so for average researchers like myself,” said Tanner LeBaron Wallace, a professor in Pitt’s Department of Education.

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Trains
3:22 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

Historic Train Structure Will Be Re-Created In Lancaster County

Concept art for the final look of Strasburg's new roundhouse.
Credit Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

A state-owned railroad museum in Strasburg plans to build a $6.1 million roundhouse of the type used to service and repair locomotives during the glory days of American rail.

Director Charlie Fox of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania said the structure will provide shelter for the most significant pieces of the museum’s collection.

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Pittsburgh Promise
12:39 pm
Mon April 22, 2013

With New Money, Pittsburgh Promise Shortens Fundraising Timeline

Saleem Ghubril, executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, announces a shortened fundraising timeline for the program.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Happily announcing a trio of major gifts from locally-based corporations, Pittsburgh Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said Monday that the city's scholarship fund now expects to raise $90 million more by 2015, three years earlier than expected.

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Bullying
11:20 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Day of Silence Calls Attention to LGBT Harassment

Students from southwestern Pennsylvania will join with those around the country to participate in the national Day of Silence on Friday.

Students in middle schools, high schools and colleges will take a vow of silence to draw attention to bullying and harassment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people.

Nationally, researchers say 160,000 children skip school each day due to fears related to bullying.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Opting Out: How High are the Stakes of Standardized Tests?

How much pressure are students and teachers under when it comes to standardized tests?
Credit Shannan Muskopf / Flickr

A growing protest movement has triggered discussions about our country's emphasis on public school standardized testing. According to parents such as Kathy Newman, a Pittsburgh Public School parent, CMU English professor and volunteer coordinator for the grassroots education group Yinzercation, the pressures and stakes of assessments like the PSSAs are too high. So they're opting their kids out. Kathy joins us for a discussion about how standardized testing impacts the quality of a public school education.

Election 2013
3:12 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

All Pittsburgh School Board Candidates Sign Equity and Excellence Pledge

Candidates for Pittsburgh School Board stand behind the signed Equity and Excellence Pledge. Candidate Thomas Sumpter (District 3) was not in attendance but had signed the pledge previously.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Nine people running for the Pittsburgh School Board have signed a pledge that outlines a “vision of excellence” for the district. The so-called Equity and Excellence Pledge was drafted by A+ Schools, a nonpartisan public education advocacy group.

“When we say equity, we mean providing every kid with the support necessary to reach and exceed a shared standard, which for us is graduating from high school and completing post-secondary education,” said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools.

The pledge calls on the candidate to make policies that ensure:

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National Aviary
3:00 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

National Aviary Welcomes Baby Eurasian Eagle Owl

A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl makes her debute at the National Aviary. They grow quickly — this girl will be full-grown by the end of May.
Deanna Garcia 90.5 WESA

A 28-day-old Eurasian Eagle Owl made her public debut at the National Aviary Tuesday, joining the three already there.

“This Eurasian Eagle Owl is the first baby owl that has been born in any AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoo in the last five years, so she is a very special Eurasian Eagle Owl,” said aviary veterinarian Pilar Fish.

The yet-to-be-named baby owl will be part of a unique program at the aviary in which the owls have multiple roles: education, breeding and being exhibited.

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Education
3:44 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

As Students Undergo PSSA Testing, Some Parents Advocate Opting Out

It’s April, and for many school children in Pennsylvania, that means it’s time for tests.

The Pennsylvania Systems of School Assessment (PSSA) is an annual standards-based test. Students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 are assessed in reading and math. Grades 5, 8 and 11 are assessed in writing, and grades 4, 8 and 11 are assessed in science.

The tests have no bearing on students’ grades, and some parents are questioning the need for the PSSA.

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History Of Pittsburgh
4:25 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Rare Photos Recall Pittsburgh's Reaction to Martin Luther King Jr.'s Death

Marchers gather outside St. Benedict the Moor Church in the Hill District.
Credit Charles Martin / University Of Pittsburgh

Forty-five years ago this month, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. sparked protests and riots across the country.

On Friday, the University of Pittsburgh Library system will recount a protest held in Pittsburgh on Sunday April 7, 1968, with a program that includes a series of photos taken by freelance photographer Charles Martin.

Larry Glasco, a University of Pittsburgh history professor, said the photographs bring a new view to the event that was much more peaceful than many other marches and rallies seen around the U.S.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Bringing Belfast Northern Ireland to Pittsburgh

Dan Rooney meeting with teens from Pittsburgh and Northern Ireland in the Press Room of Heinz Field
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Earlier this week a group of Amizade and Youth Work exchange students from the Belfast, Northern Ireland Parish of Holy Cross gathered with Pittsburgh area students for a special talk with Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney. Mr. Rooney is back running the Steelers after spending the past four years serving as the United States Ambassador to Ireland. He sat down and talked with us about how his experiences as a team owner informed his approach to diplomacy, and why it’s important to bring together differing groups. We also spoke with the students from Ireland and Pittsburgh about how they were inspired by their day-long interaction with a different culture.

Essential Pittsburgh
1:57 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

The Black Middle Class Experience in Pittsburgh: A Public Dialogue

Representives from The Urban League, Pittsburgh City Council and UPMC weigh in on Pittsburgh's African American Middle Class
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

On Wednesday, March 20th 90.5 WESA’s daily public affairs program Essential Pittsburgh hosted a Public Forum on the Black Middle Class in Pittsburgh. Inspired by a Pittsburgh Quarterly article by journalist Ben Schmitt, the forum addressed the history and current experiences of the Black middle class in Pittsburgh. Listen to our broadcast of the forum and leave a message at 412-256-8783 letting us know what you think!

Taking part in the discussion: journalist Ben Schmitt, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Esther Bush, Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle and Candi Castleberry-Singleton, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer (CIDO) at UPMC

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Focus Brasil Focusing on Pittsburgh

With Brazil's growing economy, should Portuguese be offered as a second language course in Middle and High School?
Credit Giselle Varga / Flickr

Focus Brasil takes place all over the world, promoting Brazilian music, movies, culture and the Portuguese language. It's become an annual forum for the most distinguished Brazilian leaders to address issues of interest to Brazilians abroad. This year Pittsburgh joins the ranks of cities like Ft. Lauderdale, London and Tokyo in hosting Focus Brasil Seminars. But with a focus on Pittsburgh's Universities called U-Circuit.

We’ll talk with Karen Goldman, Assistant Director of Outreach at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Latin American Studies, Ron Alvarado Chairman of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Brazilian Jazz vocalist, Kenia Ashby a local coordinator of Focus Brasil, about the importance of Portuguese in the global economy and why Pittsburgh has what's considered one of the best centers for Latin American Studies, yet Latin Americans are underrepresented in the Steel City.

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