Sarah Schneider

Reporter

Sarah Schneider covers all things education in the Pittsburgh region and hosts Weekend Edition on Sunday. An Illinois native, she's spent two years adjusting to the hills of the city. Sarah was with WESA as a PULSE (Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience Fellow) fellow for two years working on community initiatives and the Life of Learning Series before becoming a staff reporter. 

Previously Sarah interned at newspapers in Pittsburgh, Idaho and Illinois. When not reporting and hosting you can find Sarah walking dogs at an animal shelter, crocheting and taking any unique class she can. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The XPRIZE, known for its lunar program that aims to send private companies to the moon, is also funding an effort to develop educational software. The goal is to enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic in about a year. Semi-finalists for the $10 million  prize were announced last week, including a CMU project called Robo Tutor.

Vadim Ghirda / AP

Pittsburgh-based RE2 Robotics penned a contract this week with the U.S. Air Force to create robotic pilots for military planes.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Public Schools Board unanimously agreed Thursday that the district needs a committee to create a plan to address what one board member called "an alarmingly high" rate of suspensions.

City education advocates have been pushing the Pittsburgh Public School district to address the high number of suspensions for years. For several months they’ve asked the board to ban suspensions for non-violent offenses for students below sixth grade.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

By eighth grade, Christian Carter had been suspended from school a dozen times. The first time was in 3rd grade for what he described as questioning his teacher. Most were for one or two days.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Recently, the East Allegheny School District broke ground on its first charter school.

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." 

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.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Two years ago, Sean Ferguson, of Hampton Township, was walking through a parking lot at the University of Dayton. He said the next thing he remembers is waking up in UPMC Mercy Hospital.

Lightning had struck the ground and threw Ferguson into a car, breaking his jaw. The electric current from the lighting ran through his body and sent him into cardiac arrest. Several students responded, but only one knew how to perform CPR until an ambulance arrived.

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.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Representatives of the Port Authority of Allegheny County are scheduled to meet soon with a group of community advocates concerned about the new fare enforcement policy for light rail riders.

The fare enforcement policy has been a point of contention between the authority and several advocacy groups including Pittsburghers for Public Transit and the Alliance for Policy Accountability, who say the policy will criminalize riders for fare evasion which could lead to fines, jail time and possibly deportation for undocumented riders.

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. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Results from a University of Pittsburgh survey published last week found that the presidential election impacted women's decisions about their contraception.

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

Just ahead of Earth Day, two dozen Pittsburgh nonprofit CEOs are calling on residents to lobby against a rollback of environmental laws at the federal level.

President Donald Trump has proposed cutting the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, as well as eliminating the clean power plan.

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.”

Cliff Owen / AP

Fentanyl deaths outranked those attributed to heroin last year for the first time in Allegheny County, according to data released Thursday by the medical examiner's office.

Coroners and medical examiners in all but one of the 10-county region reported spikes in drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016 -- up 44 percent in Allegheny County and 38 percent in Westmoreland County.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

District attorneys from Allegheny, Butler and Washington counties are calling on legislators to restore mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated mandatory minimum sentences in 2015, saying criminal defendants did not know the potential sentence they faced until after conviction. Offenders knew their punishment carried at least a fixed punishment time and prosecutors used that to leverage information from an offender.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

A year after seven firefighters were forced to bail out of a second-story window during a house fire in Wilkinsburg, Chief Darryl Jones said he’s reviewing recommendations for how to prevent a similar situation.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

*This story was updated at 2:55 p.m. March 27, 2017 Uber's self-driving cars will be back in operation Monday afternoon three days after the company announced it had pulled the cars off the street. 

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh collection

When Emily Eckel moved to Knoxville, a neighborhood south of downtown Pittsburgh, she was told to buy special subsidence insurance, just in case the abandoned coal mine beneath her house ever caved in. She'd never heard of it.

“I just started imagining this vast maze of coal mines under the city," she said. "I was picturing coal miners going in with a pickaxe or a shovel and a yellow canary and a cage and mining all day. I don’t know if it was like that, and I would like to know.” 

It was not exactly like that, at least not in Pittsburgh.

casey.senate.gov

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said Thursday he has “serious concerns” about Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch and plans to vote against his confirmation.

Thursday marks the fourth and final day of confirmation hearings for Gorsuch. Congress is expected to vote Monday, April 3.

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.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Donald Trump's budget plan, released Thursday morning, clarifies his spending priorities and calls for cuts in several departments, which local and state leaders said will negatively impact residents.  

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