Education

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

What little difference four years can make.

Students at Kenderton Elementary have seen five principals and heard countless broken promises in fewer years.

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

 

A diverse group of very young students sit cross-legged for story time at Rose Avenue elementary in Toronto.  The kids are joyful, yet focused, and the group is small enough that the two teachers in the room are able to give one-on-one attention when needed.  

Ian Willms / for Keystone Crossroads

When Erica Brunato decided to become a teacher in Ontario, she knew the road ahead would be long and steep.

“We all knew coming into this program — even just applying for the program — what it was going to be like, right? And I said, ‘I wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl.’ So that didn’t stop me,” she said.

Compared to Pennsylvania, teacher preparation in Ontario is more rigorous and the job market is much more competitive.

Ian Willms / For Keystone Crossroads

 

Eight year-old Sirvat Labiba emigrated with her family from Bangladesh to Ontario, Canada when she was three. She lives in the Crescent Town neighborhood of Toronto with her mother, father and little sister in a high-rise apartment tower.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

For the third straight year, the Pittsburgh Public School’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a general budget without a tax increase.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education formally approved contracts with the union representing more than 5,000 faculty members and coaches at the 14 state-owned universities.

The contracts signed Tuesday were already approved by the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties following the union's first-ever strike in October.

More than $77 million in raises were handed out as part of the contracts, which are retroactive to July 2015.

Yoshimitsu Kurooka / flickr

A new program aims at rewarding Pittsburgh employers who hire Pittsburgh Promise scholarship recipients.

Councilman Corey O'Connor announced the program on Monday. Businesses that hire Pittsburgh Promise alumni would be eligible for grants ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Companies must hire a college graduate for full-time employment and retain the employee for at least six months. O'Connor says the money will benefit employers and employees. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

Approximately 190 Ambridge Area School District teachers are on strike.

Schools are closed Tuesday after educators in the Beaver County district walked off the job following months of contract negotiations. The school board and teachers' union remain at odds over salaries and health benefits.

Specifically, the district says the teachers pay only $25 per month for full family health care coverage, and are balking at a proposed increase in their share of the monthly premium.

The teachers' contract expired in June 2015.

Eugene Tanner / AP

Nathan Rosswog showed his eighth grade students a photo of his grandfather, a World War II veteran. The Urban Pathways Charter School teacher told them his grandfather wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, but shared stories of friends he knew who were at the naval base during the attack.

Brian Cantoni / Flickr

A former University of Pittsburgh student who pleaded guilty to being the go-between for Chinese students who paid to have impostors take college entrance exams for them faces sentencing before a federal judge.

Han Tong faces up to three years in prison on Monday, though his attorney is expected to argue for leniency.

Tong is one of 15 Chinese citizens charged by federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh last year with conspiring to have impostors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or other college entrance tests in western Pennsylvania since 2011.

Aaron Warnick / PublicSource

 

What was supposed to be a routine visit to the pediatrician with little Oren resulted in a finding that sent Katy Rank Lev and her husband, Corey, into a frenzy.

Their 1-year-old had lead in his blood.

Part 1 of our series "Unlocking Dyslexia."

"It's frustrating that you can't read the simplest word in the world."

Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

"Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. " He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can't sound it out.

"I don't ... I quit." He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

 

Going back to school is starting to look a lot different. 

Ninety-six percent of students at Pennsylvania College of Technology entertain job offers in their final semester. It's an enviable statistic, one that the college is very proud of, said Tracy Brundage, vice president of workforce development and continuing education. 

“Our tagline is ‘degrees that work,’” she said.

But employer interest isn't limited to graduates of the Penn State affiliate's two- and four-year degree programs.  

Marcus Charleston / WESA

Giordan Dixon, 16, stuck to his script at the new Homewood – Brushton YMCA on Bennett Street in Homewood South.

“I want to be a singer and a music producer,” he said, guiding small tours.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is called The Nation's Report Card for good reason; the tests are administered the same way year after year, using the same kind of test booklets, to students across the country.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

School district enrollment levels have dramatically shifted in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

 

 

Classes have resumed for more than 100,000 students who attend Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities.

Rich Copeland / WITF

  The union representing striking professors at 14 Pennsylvania state universities says it has reached a tentative contract agreement and is ending its walkout, now in a third day.

The strike had disrupted classes for over 100,000 students.

Professors walked off the job Wednesday after the union turned down what the university said was its last contract offer.

Union spokeswoman Kathryn Morton said Friday it had made concessions on salary and benefits in return for the university system withdrawing proposed contract changes faculty had opposed.

Traisaun Leake / Hazelwood Youth Media Justice

If a student misbehaves in a Pittsburgh Public School, the administrators are bound by a disciplinary code. But which reactions are punitive? Which are restorative? And what's more likely to help the student and his or her classroom culture?

Rebekah Zook / 90.5 WESA

Janet Vukotich began her involvement with the South Hills Junior Orchestra simply as an “orchestra mom.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

 

Professors, students and supporters are taking to picket lines at state universities around Pennsylvania, including dozens at Slippery Rock University.

Katie Meyer / WITF

 

Faculty members from Pennsylvania's state university system are rallying over the continuing lack of a contract agreement.

The professors at the 14 state-owned schools have been without one for more than a year, and negotiations between the system and the union aren't going well.

A walkout is scheduled for Oct. 19, and many think it's looking like a very real possibility.

As hundreds of faculty members carried signs in front of state higher education headquarters in Harrisburg, several students also milled around.

Penn State Hershey Medical Center

 

The National Institutes of Health is awarding a $20 million grant to Penn State Health's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine.

The funds essentially aim to use scientific discoveries to make healthier communities.

The money will go towards training programs for faculty, staff and students, groundbreaking research, as well as a data system that will be able to analyze information to predict and prevent disease.

It will connect research done at 10 different schools and institutes at Penn State.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

Sara Middleton and Catlyn Brooke both teach cross fit at the Allegheny YMCA on the North Side.

 

They renovated the upstairs studio themselves. Middleton built the barbell racks, as well as a huge structure for pull up rings and high bars.

 

  “I fell in love with it and I got certified to teach,” Brooke said.

 

Flickr user hradcanska

A group of Pine-Richland school district alumni is planning to protest the district’s transgender bathroom policy at tonight’s school board meeting.

In early September, the board passed a resolution requiring students to use either the bathroom that matches their biological sex or a unisex bathroom.

But Molly Steadman, who is organizing the protest, said that policy is akin to the “separate but equal” doctrine that kept public schools legally segregated until 1954.

Clarion.edu

A university in northwestern Pennsylvania is allowing students and workers to use nicknames on some campus records, including student identification cards and emails, in an effort to better allow them to express their identities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Clarion University says it's the first of the state's 14 state-owned universities to implement such a policy. It became effective this fall.

Duquesne University

 

Law school dean and legal scholar Ken Gormley has taken the helm as president of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

The 61-year-old lawyer and professor was installed Thursday as the 13th president of the 137-year-old private, Catholic school.

Gormley was hired as a law professor at Duquesne in 1994 after first teaching at the University of Pittsburgh and practicing privately. He's been dean of the law school since 2010.

Trigger warnings, the heads-up that college professors give to students to let them know disturbing content is coming, have gotten a lot of attention as the school year has unfolded. When a University of Chicago dean wrote a letter to incoming freshmen this fall rejecting the idea of those warnings, it sparked a nationwide debate on the use of advisories in the classroom.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It took some wrangling to fit nearly 30 Catholic school eighth-graders into the basement space of Most Wanted Fine Art gallery in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood where St. Bede English teacher Becky Baverso took her comic book club to see artist Marcel Walker’s exhibit.

“So this show here, ‘To Tell The Troof,’ this is my first solo gallery show,” Walker told the class, pointing. “I’ve had work in gallery shows before, but this is the first time it’s all mine.”  

Canon McMillan School District

  A public school cafeteria worker has quit over what she considers a "lunch shaming" policy in one western Pennsylvania school district.

Stacy Kotiska says she quit last week after she had to take a hot lunch away from a child because their parent had fallen more than $25 behind in paying for his school lunches.

The Canon-McMillan School District enacted the policy to deal with a backlog of about 300 parents who owed tens of thousands of dollars. Now fewer than 70 parents owe money, and the district says the policy isn't meant to shame students.

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