Education

Keith Srakocic / AP

Consultants hired to review Pennsylvania's financially strapped state-owned university system are not recommending any of the 14 campuses be closed or merged.

The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems is sharing its findings Wednesday with the governing board of the State System of Higher Education.

The system is suffering from dropping in-state high school graduations and cuts in state aid.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

On a breezy Wednesday morning, a tour group of gardeners and members of Pittsburgh's nonprofit community visited all the green spaces the neighborhood of Homewood had to offer. They saw the personal gardens of resident Amir Rashad, walked through shared plots and the garden manned by Operation Better Block.

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.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

 

Last year, Hopewell Memorial Junior High School started noticing some negative race-based comments being made among students. Studies show safe environments are essential for learning, and being victim to identity-based harassment can be especially detrimental in school.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Penguins officials estimate 650,000 people showed up for this year’s Stanley Cup victory parade after captain Sidney Crosby led the team to their second consecutive NHL title. 

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." 

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Every day at Urban Academy Charter School in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood begins with students, teachers, support staff and administrators gathered in the cafeteria.

Mornings start with brief presentations on black history, followed by song: “I Believe I Can Fly,” the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and once in a while, a little Bruno Mars.

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.

Dake Kang / AP

City leaders say they want to streamline tax abatement programs for developers willing to take risks in historically underserved neighborhoods.

Google Maps

Clarion University's president says she's stepping down at the end of the next academic year.

Karen Whitney has been president of the state-owned school for eight years. The school about 70 miles northeast of Pittsburgh has about 5,200 students.

The school is one of several in the 14-school State System of Higher Education that's struggling with declining enrollment. Clarion's enrollment has dropped 29 percent since 2010.

Whitney is the longest-tenured president in the state system.

The resignation announced Monday is effective June 30, 2018.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania law mandates school districts submit preliminary budgets by the last day of May, and several Superintendents across the state used Wednesday’s milestone to call for more financial support from the state.

“Without increased state funding we will, at some point, loose the ability to provide the same level of education that we have,” Gary Peiffer, Carlynton School District Superintendent, said.

Bob Casey Says Medicaid Cuts Would Hurt Special Education

May 20, 2017
Ben Allen / WITF

The Republican-backed health care bill that passed the U.S. House would cut $880 billion from the Medicaid program over the next decade.

Pennsylvania's senior U.S. Senator says that move will not only rob people of heath care, but hurt the commonwealth's schools.

Democratic Senator Bob Casey says most people don't realize Medicaid funds help provide special education services, health screenings, and early intervention pre-k programs that benefit children with disabilities.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Sala Udin, Veronica Edwards and Terry Kennedy won seats on the Pittsburgh Public Schools boards Tuesday night, in the only contested board races.

Kennedy, the incumbent District 5 representative, garnered nearly twice as many votes as opponent Ghadah Makoshi.

In District 3, former city councilman Udin beat out opponent James Myers, a Schenley High School grad and outreach coordinator for the Pittsburgh Green Innovators.

And Edwards narrowly defeated incumbent Carolyn Klug for the District 9 seat.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged there may be some merit to Democratic challenger Rev. John C. Welch's plan to limit lead in Pittsburgh's drinking water at a mayoral forum hosted by 90.5 WESA and The Incline on Tuesday.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week, reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

  The district attorney was reviewing allegations that a police officer assigned to a suburban Pittsburgh school knocked out the tooth of a 14-year-old student accused of stealing another student's cell phone.

Google Maps

Administrators at five of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities have given faculty notice that layoffs and program cuts could occur in the 2018-19 school year, as the State System of Higher Education struggles generally with an enrollment drop.

Mansfield University administrators filed a notice March 21. Faculty at California, Clarion, Edinboro and Cheyney universities have since been notified.

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.

Pittsburgh's Maker Space Support Network Goes National

Mar 13, 2017
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

A national program launched by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to support maker space development in schools is taking on a new set of national and local partners.

In 2015, the museum launched a year-long pilot program, Kickstarting Making, that supported 10 local schools in raising funds for maker space efforts. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

State House members kicked off their third and final week of budget hearings with an all-day Q&A with education officials.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed plan includes a $100 million boost for general education funding, which returns the allocation almost to its 2011 peak.

But talk has centered on what’s getting cut.

With the commonwealth facing a nearly $3 billion structural deficit, the 2017-18 budget proposal is significantly leaner than Wolf’s last two.

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera noted, that put his department under some pressure.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania gets a failing grade for its efforts to protect children from high levels of lead in the water at their schools, according to a report released two weeks ago from Public Interest Research Groups, a national federation of left-leaning, independent nonprofits.

It advises—among other things—that schools install water filters as soon as possible while working on longer-term solutions.

Elaine Thomson / AP

A federal judge on Monday ruled that three transgender students at a Pennsylvania high school, including the sister of a singer who performed at President Donald Trump's inauguration, can use bathrooms that correspond to their stated gender identities while their lawsuit challenging the school district's policy continues.

Gerry Broome / AP Photo

Updated: 1:53 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools District says it is committed to supporting transgender students and has not changed its nondiscrimination policy following the Trump administration’s move to rescind protections.

The National Council on Teacher Quality and the EducationCounsel
Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Fifth grader Jaylen Hocker popped up from his front row seat at the O’Reilly Theater. He walked onto the stage, held up a hand to block the bright theater lights from his eyes and waited for the OK from a panel of judges before he began. 

“He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies. And what’s his reason? I am a Jew," he said, reciting William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice."

Keith Srakocic / AP

Declining enrollment is causing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to restructure some of its elementary schools.

Last weekend, Diocese officials announced that 10 elementary schools in the North Hills would be put under a single administration. The changes will go into effect next fall.

Bishop David Zubik said now, all 32 regional parishes will support those schools.

'Human Library' Allows Penn State Community To Check Out Diverse Life Experiences

Feb 17, 2017
Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

Brian Davis is well-known around campus, and not just because the Penn State junior is always wearing a suit. He's triple majoring and double minoring, is actively involved in organizations across campus and has the ear of the University's president.

But that's not where his story begins.

"So my story is about me growing up in West Philadelphia, and for me joining a gang, and to how that was for me every single day," said Davis. "Whether that was getting shot at, fearing for my life, or fighting just because that was the mental capacity I had at the time."

Hans Pennink / AP

According to some school administrators, we’re entering truancy season -- the time when schools start taking action on students who have racked up too many missed days.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Brentwood Middle School geography teacher Casey Phillips was scared to take a step forward, lest he fall 64 stories from the top of the U.S. Steel Tower to the street below.

“That’s how realistic it is,” he said. “That is nuts.”

Phillips wasn’t really standing atop the building in downtown Pittsburgh, but it felt like he was because of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset he was wearing.

Gregory Bull / AP

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is bracing itself for changes spurred by financial troubles.

The Reading Eagle reports enrollment at the 14 state-owned universities has dropped by nearly 15,000 students since 2010. Pennsylvania schools are also receiving ten percent less in state sponsored aid this year.

State budget constraints offer even less hope for the system.

Pages