Sarah Schneider

Reporter

Sarah Schneider covers education for 90.5 WESA. That means looking at how people learn in Western Pennsylvania. Her reporting examines how local and national decisions impact access to education and policy. She loves being in classrooms talking to students and teachers.

She is also a local fill-in host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Previously, Sarah was a reporting fellow at WESA for two years by way of an Americorps affiliated program, Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience (PULSE). She has interned with newspapers in Illinois, Idaho and Pennsylvania. 

Story ideas are always welcome at sschneider@wesa.fm.

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers / submitted

The vast majority of members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers who voted Monday authorized the union to call a strike.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Before school starts at 7:30 a.m., Daunteeka Smith drops her daughter off at the Early Head Start Center on the first floor of Westinghouse High School.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh education advocacy group is coordinating organizations that could care for children in the event of a teacher strike.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers sent ballots to its 3,000 members Monday asking teachers, paraprofessionals and clerical workers for authorization to call a strike.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Quaker Valley School police officer Aaron Vanatta walks through the hallways of the middle school in Sewickley pointing out measures he has taken to secure the building.

A group of officers from around the country trail behind him. He's sharing anecdotes that demonstrate what he’s learned, such as the importance of the cork boards above the tiled walls cluttered with posters of the school motto and student artwork. 

“So you’ll see in the whole school, they let the kids put stuff up, so they’ve taken ownership in the building and they aren’t going to damage it,” he said.

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A policy proposal from the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center aims to cover tuition and fees for eligible recent high school graduates who attend community college or a state university.

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Since September, seven boys attending Woodland Hills School District schools have been shot; five of those students died. Earlier this month, the junior-senior high school was on lockdown after a teenager was shot in East Pittsburgh.

Tiffini Simoneaux / City of Pittsburgh

More than a fifth of Pittsburgh’s three- and four-year-olds are not in high quality preschool programs.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

This year, Avonworth High School students arrived at their first period, for the most part, after sunrise.

The district recently shifted its first period start time from 7:15 to 8 a.m., and Superintendent Thomas Ralston said his students now pass what he calls "the eye test."

“You can see that kids are coming to school, and they’re awake. They’re coming in when it’s light outside,” he said. “Our faculty have reported that kids are more attentive in class … and faculty feel more prepared.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Once a month, kids pull up chairs in front of a wall full of cats in kennels who are waiting to be adopted. The children introduce themselves, and they begin to read.

They read stories about zoo animals and tales of heroes on long journeys in far off places. Some older kids catch the cats up on novels they’ve been reading before they launch into the book.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Beginning in the 2018 school year, students below the third grade in Pittsburgh Public Schools will not be suspended for nonviolent offenses.

Board members and advocacy groups have pushed for the policy change for several months. According to the local advocacy group, the Education Rights Network, students below third grade missed nearly 800 days of school last year due to suspensions. A disproportionate number of those students were black. The group received that information from a Right To Know request.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

With the help of a grant from Google, Obama Academy in East Liberty opened a maker space for students Thursday. It’s an amenity more commonly found in schools in wealthier districts.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Jayda Rogers is a three-sport athlete who earns As and Bs in her classes at Shroder High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. The senior wants to go to college to study public affairs and eventually start her own nonprofit organization.

Beth Shaaban / provided

University of Pittsburgh organizer Beth Shaaban said unionizing graduate students is more important now than ever in light of the proposed tax bill in Congress.  

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh will soon offer child care for city employees on days when Pittsburgh Public Schools are closed but city offices remain open.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The Community College of Allegheny County is one local organization that plans to apply for a new state grant to fund apprenticeship programs.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen graduate students chanted "kill the bill" outside the Cathedral of Learning on Wednesday. Many teach undergraduate classes or assist with research in exchange for waived tuition or a stipend. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A dozen captivated kids surrounded Akasha Lestat Van-Cartier, whose blue ball gown sparkled as she read: “I am thankful for my hair, because it makes me unique. I am thankful for my ears, because they let me hear words like, ‘I love you.’”

This is the fourth month Van-Cartier has spent time at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s North Side branch reading kids books about respect, self-confidence and being the person you want to be.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Parents, side by side, held signs calling for Superintendent Toni Shute to resign.

“Give Shute the boot,” they chanted outside of a packed Oct. 9 Brooke County School District board meeting in Wellsburg, W.Va.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

In its latest annual report sent to 30,000 homes in the city, A+ Schools is drawing attention to persistent disparities within Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of Carnegie Mellon University graduate students spent hours this week calling their elected representatives asking them to oppose a provision of the Congressional House Republican’s proposed tax reform bill

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A committee tasked with finding alternatives to suspending Pittsburgh students below third grade for non-violent offenses says the district needs more counselors, social workers and de-escalation training.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

When the steel mills closed, Mary Kay Babyak, the executive director of an education nonprofit, said she thinks parents didn’t see a future for the their children in blue-collar trade jobs.

“A number of these folks have a history of seeing their parents, their grandparents, their siblings losing positions and opportunities and great jobs,” she said. “So the idea was college will guarantee success. Which it doesn’t.”

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Public Schools and the union representing its teachers and paraprofessionals are continuing negotiations as employees begin their fifth month working under a contract that expired at the end of June.

90.5 WESA

Republican incumbent County Councilman Tom Baker has a challenger for the seat he’s held since 2014 thanks to a successful write-in campaign from Democrat Jack Betkowski.

A week before the primary election, Betkowski, who is a Ross Township commissioner, decided to run for a seat to represent Ross, Moon, North Fayette, Findlay and other northeastern townships. He said he wants to increase public transparency and takes issue with the fact that meetings are held Downtown at 5 p.m.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

This is the first in a week long series exploring inequity in the Pittsburgh region. 

Jonnae Carter is painting a foam stamp she made. The 3-year-old’s braids swing as she shuffles behind a table telling anyone who will listen about shapes and colors and textures.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Toyosi Egbebi says she spends a lot of her free time taking things apart and trying to figure out how they work.

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Police say an elementary school teacher was hit in the face with a brick and dragged from her car in Pittsburgh after a dispute with the parents of one of her students.

They say the attack happened around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday as 46-year-old Janice Watkins was leaving Pittsburgh King PreK-8 on the North Side.

Authorities say she was being followed by a couple in a SUV, and when she stopped at an intersection near the West End Bridge, the woman threw a brick at her.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than 200 teachers and staff at a Washington County school district plan to go on strike Wednesday saying proposed salary changes are unreasonable.

Ringgold School District, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, serves about 3,000 students from Monongahela and six other Mon Valley towns.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Students with developmental disabilities are learning job skills at a new Homestead café that opened Monday.

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