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.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh research center devoted to the works of a theologian, who later became a Catholic cardinal, has finished the first part of a project to digitize his manuscripts.

Archivists in Birmingham, England worked for four years to take high-quality images of John Henry Newman’s unpublished writings on theology, education and philosophy. It will take another year to upload the nearly 30 terabytes of material to a website operated by the Pittsburgh-based National Institute for Newman Studies in Oakland.

Provided photo from Rosana Guernica

More than three weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, many residents of the island are still struggling to gain access to clean drinking water, electricity and lifesaving medicines.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

UPDATED: Oct.5, 2017 at 9:25 a.m. 

Protesters from the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church plan to march through Pittsburgh’s Oakland and Downtown neighborhoods Thursday afternoon, according to the group’s website.

Joe Miksch, University of Pittsburgh director of media relations, said the university is taking steps to ensure safety of students, faculty and staff.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Nineteen Pittsburgh-area colleges and universities are partnering with the Pittsburgh Promise to offer students who receive the scholarship an additional $2,000 a year for room and board costs.

Commuter colleges that don’t provide housing and have signed the agreement will offer funding for books rather than housing.

In exchange, the Pittsburgh Promise has agreed to promote these schools to students who receive the scholarship. Promise Executive Director Saleem Ghubril said the funding is another attempt to remove barriers that prevent students from completing a degree.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

More than a million classrooms in the United States do not have access to Wi-Fi. That statistic from the nonprofit Education Superhighway is quoted in a new documentary that details the digital divide in American classrooms.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 10 miles south of Pittsburgh, a construction crew in Bridgeville is finishing the tech wing of the new Chartiers Valley High School.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About two dozen people rallied outside of the Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday night.

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The West Mifflin School Board approved the terms of a settlement Thursday night in a special meeting, ending a years-long legal fight over funding with the state Department of Education.

The district argued that neighboring Duquesne School District wasn’t paying enough to send students to West Mifflin.

Duquesne began sending students to West Mifflin in 2007 when the state closed the financially distressed high school because of low test scores. Five years later junior high students also transferred to West Mifflin.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Kindergartners dressed in blue shirts and khakis sit on the gym floor of Allegheny K-5 with their classmates. A few are visibly nervous, but the moms and dads standing around them are the ones shedding tears.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Carnegie Mellon University will publish an anthology of poetry and prose pieces in the fall, written by high school and college students. They're winners of the school's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards, which started in 1999. 

90.5 WESA's Sarah Schneider spoke to the CMU English professor and the director of the program, Jim Daniels, about compiling the pieces. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

SARAH SCHNEIDER: What do you encourage students to write about?

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Gina Murphy pulls box after box from shelves in her Brookline Elementary School classroom. Each one is a hodgepodge of toys, fabrics and flashcards.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Five former Woodland Hills School District students filed a lawsuit Wednesday morning in the U.S. District Court alleging the district and administration perpetuated a culture of abuse, perpetrated by the former high school principal and a school resource officer.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

About 300 people marched from Homewood to North Point Breeze Saturday afternoon led by black activists and followed by white allies. 

The peaceful march organized by a group of black women and femmes intentionally prioritized the needs and voices of black attendees. All intersections of the black community including physical ability and sexual orientation and identity were welcomed as well as white allies. Organizer Deaja Baker said it was a chance to uplift the black communities.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Officials with the Ellis School, a private all-girls preparatory school in Shadyside, said their decision to switch cleaning contractors earlier this month was because of performance issues, not wages, as the union representing the school’s former cleaners has suggested.

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The United Steelworkers will no longer represent workers of a local cleaning company that are assigned to the Ellis School.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Darrell Pullie is standing on a film set between the camera and actors holding a clapperboard, the black and white object you see in film outtakes that mark the start of a new scene or take.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf touted the work of a Pittsburgh cellular technology company during a Monday stop on his "Jobs That Pay" tour, saying it was an example of why investing in education is good for the economy.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Many colleges send incoming students a copy of the same book, or common reader, in the summer. The idea is to give students a shared experience before coming to campus.

Some schools send books to just freshmen and incorporate the themes of the text into orientation. Others expect the entire campus to read the book.

In Pittsburgh, only two universities have common read programs.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The environmental engineer who worked to expose the Flint lead crisis in 2014 said Pittsburgh’s drinking water lead levels are higher than the Michigan city, but he’s encouraged by downward trends.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A few dozen protesters gathered outside of Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai’s McCandless office Tuesday, calling on the Republican representative to balance the budget by taxing natural gas and corporations.

Pine Township resident Linda Bishop led a small group of constituents into the office with a list of concerns. Others representing SEIU unions, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network and Fight for $15, stayed outside chanting for more funding for education and fewer tax cuts to corporations.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Asia Parker wants to be a mathematics professor.

“Math is just amazing. You can do anything,” she said.

Parker, 17 from Carrick, waited in a Duquesne University laboratory near a kiln heating materials she was using in semi-conductor experiments. Semi-conductors are often used in computers and solar panels. The high school senior wants to make new compounds for Jennifer Aitken’s research, which is looking at shifting the wavelength of lasers.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The attorney representing three former students who sued the Pine-Richland School District says the parties are expected to sign a settlement in the next few days.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, with New York-based Lambda Legal which advocates for LGBTQIA rights, declined to comment on the terms of the settlement until then.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Six Pittsburgh students are spending their summer learning about the plants and animals in Frick Park and how to protect them with erosion control and managing invasive species. 

Students working in the Young Naturalist program don’t typically have access to nature. 

90.5 WESA’s Sarah Schneider spoke with Taiji Nelson, a naturalist educator with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, about teaching kids to be park stewards. 

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

After a three-year search, the board of the August Wilson Center For African American Culture named its new president and CEO Thursday. Janis Burley Wilson, who is not related to the center’s namesake, has overseen programming at the center since the Cultural Trust took over temporary operation two years ago.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said Burley Wilson’s hire means the conversation is no longer about saving the center, named after Pittsburgh Playwright August Wilson. 

Alex Popichak / 90.5 WESA

In 1892, the country’s largest trade union, the Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers, took on the world’s largest manufacturing firm, the Carnegie Steel Corporation. Carnegie’s plant manager Henry Clay Frick increased production demands, but refused to increase wages. Frick eventually locked workers out of the facility spurring a strike.

Only about a fifth of the workers at the Homestead Works Steel Mill were skilled workers represented by the union. But the nearly 3,000 workers agreed to strike for better wages and working conditions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The contract for nearly 3,000 Pittsburgh Public School Teachers and paraprofessionals expired Friday. Negotiations began in the fall between the district and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

Union president Nina Esposito-Visgitis said she’s disappointed, but hopeful for a contract by the start of the school year.  

“We’re going to have a new school year, we have a lot of great initiatives with community schools, (Career and Technical Education), early childhood," she said. "I don’t want any distractions because we have a lot of work to do.”

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.

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